Partner, Underberg & Kessler LLP
Years in current role:12 (32 practicing commercial litigation)
What do you enjoy most about being a litigator?
I have the privilege of getting to know and work with a wide variety of people and learning about many different professions and businesses. I enjoy the challenge of the adversarial process and securing the best possible outcomes for the clients, and I am gratified when all the hard work put into a case pays off with a win for a client.
What do you consider your biggest success in navigating the litigation process during the pandemic?
I had to quickly get better at using our firm’s technology when we were all working remotely, and I had to learn how to be most effective in remote depositions, mediations and court appearances.
What do you see as the biggest changes in the legal industry in the next 3-5 years?
The pandemic accelerated and to some extent normalized the practice of lawyers working remotely. Law firms will have to continue to adapt to that new environment and serve the clients’ needs, while still ensuring that newer lawyers develop the necessary hard and soft skills that have traditionally been learned by working with senior lawyers in the office, the courtroom and with clients.
What trial are you most proud of in your career?
I co-chaired a trial in which we represented two sales representatives in a disability and age discrimination case against a major steel producer. One of the representatives had multiple sclerosis and the other was over 40. Our theory was that their manager terminated the representative with multiple sclerosis because he did not want that person calling on customers, and terminated the other representative as “cover,” claiming that sales were down and the representatives were no longer needed. The representative with multiple sclerosis reached a favorable settlement during the trial, and the jury awarded $1 million to the other representative.
What community organizations do you support as a volunteer and why?
I am a long-time member and the Chair of the Board of Trustees of Preservation Buffalo Niagara, and support its mission to preserve Western New York’s rich architectural heritage. I previously served for many years a member of, and the President of, the Board of Directors of Neighborhood Legal Services, whose mission is to provide needed legal services to the poor and under-represented.