To Lawrence Kasperek, there’s no more lonely experience than rising in defense of your client in a packed courtroom. But being a criminal defense lawyer is all he’s ever wanted to do.
And now, because of his dedication to the profession, the partner at Easton Thompson Kasperek Shiffrin LLP is being honored with this year’s Charles Crimi Memorial Award for criminal defense work by a private practice attorney.
“I’m humbled by the process because many of the former winners and award recipients are former colleagues of mine,” said Kasperek, 66.
His wife, Assistant Monroe County Public Defender Janet Somes, won the award in 2019. His partners at Easton Thompson Kasperek Shiffrin all have received the award previously.
Kasperek was also the recipient of the 2014 Jeffrey A. Jacobs Memorial Award.
Monroe County Bar Association President Jill Paperno has known Kasperek since 1987 when she started working at the Monroe County Public Defender’s Office.
“He was an attorney to emulate and was one of my teachers and role models. He has always had a deep sense of justice and a fierce outrage at injustice,” Paperno said.
“While he is a premier attorney working at one of the premier criminal defense firms in town, and could limit himself to clients who would pay top dollar, he continues to take on clients who are the least favored in our community, litigating each case as if it were the most important. Because, to him, it is,” she said.
“The Crimi Award recognizes attorneys who have demonstrated their commitment to the legal needs of the poor and disadvantaged. I cannot think of a more worthy and suitable recipient,” Paperno said.
Kasperek cut his teeth professionally at the Public Defender’s Office, where he spent 14 years before going into private practice.
“I learned how to be a lawyer among the colleagues that I had there and in the guerilla warfare that we used to practice as a criminal defense office,” he said.
“You got assigned tough cases there, and I took it as a badge of honor that I was asked to take on difficult cases,” he said.
“I think it’s a responsibility of anybody practicing criminal defense not to shy away from difficult cases or notorious cases, but to stand up and do what you can to represent that person,” he said.
In addition to his trial experience, Kasperek frequently represents clients in appellate courts and in post-conviction proceedings.
“I grew up in a time when there were great orators, when there were people that were demonstrating for their rights, women’s rights, civil rights, voting rights,” he said.
“The ’60s and early ’70s were a tumultuous time and I really felt that you really had to become involved in helping people, and that’s really what I wanted to do,” Kasperek said.
“I wanted to help people assert their rights or be the conscience of our constitutional protections for people that are accused,” he said.
[email protected] / (585) 232-2035
Law Week Awards
What: A virtual Law Week Awards Ceremony, hosted by the Monroe County Bar Association.
Where: Online. For more information and to register, go to mcba.org.
When: 4 p.m., Thursday, May 6.
Why: To honor Larry Kasperek with the Charles F. Crimi Memorial Award, and Charles Inclima with the Adolph J. Rodenbeck.