The 2024 Trailblazers in Law

The legal leaders making New York a better place.

India Sneed-Williams, Jason Lilien & Justina Rivera

India Sneed-Williams, Jason Lilien & Justina Rivera GT; Loeb & Loeb LLP; Tamara A. Fleming

The legal profession doesn’t always get much respect. Many Americans don’t trust lawyers, and the common stereotype is that they rake in profits while making society more litigious.

But a closer inspection reveals that countless attorneys are driven by more idealistic aims. That’s why City & State’s inaugural Trailblazers in Law is putting a spotlight on a select group of leaders who are using their legal training to make the world a better place. This feature, the first in City & State’s new Trailblazers series, recognizes civil rights lawyers standing up for racial equality, legal services providers representing incarcerated and indigent New Yorkers, and civic-minded attorneys combating fraud, corruption and abuse. The list includes legal experts in key areas, including health care, labor and real estate, and in pioneering industries such as cannabis and renewable energy. The Trailblazers on this year’s list are ensuring that 9/11 survivors are cared for, that migrants have access to shelter, that whistleblowers are shielded from retaliation.

(This list alternates with the Law Power 100, which will return in 2025. It groups each individual in categories, including “public policy” for a handful of attorneys going above and beyond in shaping legislative and regulatory decisions, although many individuals could fit in multiple categories.)

Without further ado, City & State is pleased to present the 2024 Trailblazers in Law.

ACADEMIA — Lurie Daniel Favors

Executive Director, Medgar Evers College Center for Law and Social Justice

Lurie Daniel Favors took the reins of Medgar Evers College’s Center for Law and Social Justice in 2020, amid a rising Black Lives Matter movement. The activist, author and attorney, who dropped the “interim” tag in 2022, served on the New York City Racial Justice Commission and backed the creation of a state committee to study reparations. The CLSJ was founded in 1986 in response to police killings of Black New Yorkers, and Daniel Favors has continued its mission of addressing racial justice through advocacy, organizing and education.

James Grimmelmann

Tessler Family Professor of Digital and Information Law, Cornell Tech and Cornell Law School

At the cutting edge of technology and software law, James Grimmelmann’s research at Cornell Law School focuses on the impact of regulation of digital affairs, software, search engines and technology – including such timely topics as generative artificial intelligence and its legal implications. He connects lawyers and those in the technology industry, in part to help the two sides better understand each other. He has authored a casebook and over 50 scholarly articles on technology subjects and is a thought leader and frequent commentator on technology issues.

Kapil Longani

Senior Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs and General Counsel, State University of New York
Kapil Longani / Ed Reed

Kapil Longani says he runs “towards the thorniest, most intractable issues involving equity and fairness.” As SUNY’s top lawyer, he has been developing the system’s legal response to antisemitism and Islamophobia in order to provide a safe learning environment. He also led SUNY’s response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on race-conscious admissions policies and restructured the SUNY general counsel’s office. Previously, he served as chief counsel in the de Blasio administration, implemented South Africa’s post-apartheid constitution and led congressional oversight investigations into the Flint, Michigan, water crisis.

Alexander Reinert

Max Freund Professor of Litigation and Advocacy, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
Alexander Reinert / Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

Standing up for the rights of incarcerated people has defined Alexander Reinert’s career. Reinert has represented thousands held in restrictive conditions on Rikers Island and over a thousand people at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn who faced severe cold and blackouts. His recent law review article, “Qualified Immunity’s Flawed Foundation,” has been frequently cited, with several federal courts calling it “game-changing.” A full-time professor at Cardozo School of Law since 2007, Reinert also clerked with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer.

Rebecca Roiphe

Joseph Solomon Distinguished Professor of Law, New York Law School
Rebecca Roiphe / Roland Smith Photography

Rebecca Roiphe possesses a vast knowledge of the prosecutorial process, making her a go-to source for observations about the most important legal cases in the country. The New York Law School professor and former Manhattan assistant district attorney is a legal analyst for CBS News, where she has offered analysis on everything from the independence of the U.S. Department of Justice to the legal woes of former President Donald Trump. She has been appointed to the New York City Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary, which reviews candidates for judgeships.

Jeffrey Wice

Adjunct Professor and Senior Fellow, New York Law School
Jeffrey Wice / Rolland Smith

Jeffrey Wice is New York’s redistricting guru. Wice has been working with the New York Census and Redistricting Institute at New York Law School, a first-in-the-nation resource center regarding redistricting issues – including multiple rounds in New York in recent years. Wice has advised a number of local governments on redistricting and is in the process of developing a statewide education program on the 2030 census. Wice’s work has been national in scope, including serving as co-editor of the National Conference of State Legislature’s 2020 Redistricting Law Handbook.

CANNABIS — Axel Bernabe

Partner, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP
Axel Bernabe / Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP

As the inaugural chief of staff and senior policy director for the New York Office of Cannabis Management, Axel Bernabe was one of the key architects of the growing marijuana market in the state. Bernabe, who also shaped policy as chief health counsel in the Cuomo administration for six years, also helped set up New York’s medical marijuana and hemp programs and developed systems for licensing and enforcement. Last fall, he landed at Manatt Health, where he is a consultant on a wide range of cannabis matters.

Jesse Campoamor

Founder and CEO, Campoamor & Sons LLC
Jesse Campoamor / Jesse Campoamor

Focused on a mission-driven approach to government relations, public relations and stakeholder engagement, Jesse Campoamor is the CEO and founder of Campoamor & Sons, a Latino-owned consulting firm. The New York Law School alum brings high-level government experience to his work, having served as deputy secretary for intergovernmental affairs in the governor’s office. In that role, he worked closely with local, state and federal officials on a number of issues, including the drafting and passage of the state’s landmark cannabis law and ensuring vaccine equity during the coronavirus pandemic.

Wei Hu

Founding Partner, MRTA Law PC
Wei Hu / Wei Hu

Wei Hu followed a unique path to the cannabis market, first spending a decade and a half as an attorney in the New York City Department of Social Services before launching a law firm that serves budding entrepreneurs in the fledgling industry in New York. Hu, whose MRTA Law PC specializes in cannabis as well as administrative and regulatory law, has represented several cultivators as well as owners of dispensaries. Hu also co-owns and operates Lenox Hill Cannabis Co., a dispensary on Manhattan’s Upper East Side that opened in January.

Michael James

Founder and Principal, The James Firm
Michael James / The James Firm

Michael James isn’t just an attorney for entrepreneurs – he is an entrepreneur himself. The Jamaica, Queens, native launched The James Firm out of law school with a focus on business, real estate and hospitality. A passion is advocating for the minority business community, which he describes as a “core value” both in his practice and through other investments. Last year, he announced an expansion into the growing cannabis space, where he has already represented a number of clients who have been awarded cannabis licenses in New York.

Elizabeth Kase

Co-Chair, Cannabis Law Practice Group, Ruskin Moscou Faltischek PC
Elizabeth Kase / Bill Brady

As co-chair of Ruskin Moscou Faltischek PC’s cannabis practice, Elizabeth Kase helps clients secure licenses in New York’s marijuana marketplace. The Long Island-based attorney has been a key player in the cannabis space since medical marijuana was approved in 2014. She’s now guiding a range of entrepreneurs and social equity applicants through the regulatory process under the 2021 Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, which legalized recreational use. Kase, a former assistant district attorney in Manhattan, was named a “Trailblazer in Cannabis Law” by the National Law Journal.

CIVIL RIGHTS — Lanessa Owens-Chaplin

Director, Racial Justice Center, New York Civil Liberties Union
Lanessa Owens-Chaplin / Vanessa Renee Photography

The New York Civil Liberties Union, which has grappled with some of the country’s thorniest constitutional issues, is now renewing its efforts to tackle racism. Last year, the NYCLU brought on Lanessa Owens-Chaplin as the inaugural director of its Racial Justice Center, which supports Black, Indigenous and people of color through legal advocacy, from reparations to land use to environmental racism. The civil rights lawyer previously defended the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated, was a staffer in the Assembly and served on the state Judicial Institute on Professionalism in Law.

Lourdes Rosado

President and General Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF
Lourdes Rosado / Tory Rust LLC

As the 10th president and general counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Lourdes Rosado is developing new initiatives and increasing the group’s capacity to further its work, including doubling its staff. Lourdes launched the Racial Justice Initiative, which brings a racial equity component to its work, including working with Afro-Latino and Indigenous Latino communities to address barriers impacting civil rights. Key priorities for Rosado have been increasing legislative and community advocacy staff and increasing fundraising efforts.

Arthur Z. Schwartz

President and Founder, Advocates for Justice
Arthur Z. Schwartz / Arthur Z. Schwartz

Civil rights attorney Arthur Z. Schwartz is at the forefront of a wide range of trailblazing causes and campaigns. He successfully sued Project Veritas on sexual harassment and overtime cases, represented a dissident caucus with the Amazon Labor Union to achieve union elections and sued in an attempt to stop the closure of Mount Sinai Beth Israel hospital. He’s also representing Bruno Grandsard, a candidate challenging Rep. Dan Goldman. The indefatigable attorney publishes the Village View newspaper in Greenwich Village and hosts a weekly radio show on WBAI as well.

William Wagstaff III

Owner and Principal Attorney, The Wagstaff Firm PC
William Wagstaff III / Jovan C. Richards

William Wagstaff III recently secured a $2.25 million settlement with New York City on behalf of the mother of Brandon Rodriguez, who killed himself while in custody on Rikers Island in 2021. It’s the kind of high-profile legal victory that Wagstaff is hoping will propel him to victory in the open race to be Westchester County’s next district attorney. Wagstaff specializes in civil rights litigation, criminal defense and municipal law, and served as special counsel to Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard, among other governmental roles.

Earl Ward

Partner, Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP
Earl Ward / Zack Stertz

Earl Ward handles enough civil rights and felony cases to keep him busy as a named partner at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP, a boutique litigation firm focused on civil rights, ethics as well as commercial and criminal cases. But he still finds time to serve the public outside of his day job, including as board chair of the Bronx Defenders, a public defender nonprofit, and Housing Works, which serves those living with HIV/AIDS. The veteran criminal defense and civil rights attorney also served on the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board.

Maya Wiley

President and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Maya Wiley / The Wiley Campaign

Maya Wiley is well known in New York City for her strong 2021 mayoral campaign, her tenure in the de Blasio administration and her appearances on MSNBC as a legal analyst. She’s now making a name for herself nationally at the Washington, D.C.-based Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a legislative advocacy coalition of over 230 national organizations focused on such matters as voting rights and policing reform. Wiley, the first Black woman to serve as counsel to the mayor in New York City, also chaired the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board.


Partner, Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP
Kim Conroy / Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP

Kim Conroy, an expert in complex civil fraud and investigations, is on a hot streak. She recently represented an Alaskan fish shipping company in a case against the federal government involving $350 million in fines involving the shipment of fish to the mainland. She won an injunction to prevent the assessment for alleged violations while the case was favorably settled. Conroy also represented Real Estate Investments Developers in a settlement regarding a dispute over land along the Jersey Shore that ultimately allowed REID to gain local approval for a development project.

Mylan Denerstein

Partner and Co-Partner in Charge of the New York City Office, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Mylan Denerstein / Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP

As the federal monitor overseeing the New York City Police Department, Mylan Denerstein is policing the police. Denerstein, who has also served as counsel to the governor, recently released a report detailing how the NYPD is not in full compliance with reforms ordered by the federal courts a decade ago that created the monitor’s office. Among the issues Denerstein found was that while street patrol officers are generally in compliance with issues relating to stops, officers in specialized units are not. Denerstein also found too many stop-and-frisk cases occurring in the city.

Jason Lilien

Partner and Co-Chair, Nonprofits and Tax-Exempt Organizations Practice, Loeb & Loeb LLP
Jason Lilien / Loeb & Loeb LLP

The former top nonprofit regulator in New York, Jason Lilien is leveraging his time as bureau chief of the state Attorney General’s Charities Bureau to improve the governance of nonprofit organizations across the state – and beyond. The Loeb & Loeb attorney has established himself as a key thought leader in the area of nonprofit law and governance. The principal author of the Nonprofit Revitalization Act of 2013, Lilien has gone on not only to advise nonprofit clients but also to drive initiatives to address best practices in corporate governance.

E. Danya Perry

Founding Partner, Perry Law
E. Danya Perry / Perry Law

Perry Law may be a new boutique litigation firm, but E. Danya Perry already has it punching above its weight. As counsel to former Donald Trump fixer Michael Cohen, Perry got Trump to withdraw a lawsuit against Cohen two days before Perry was due to take a deposition from the former president. She also won successful motions to dismiss in cases against a former chair of Apollo Global Management and a former vice chair of NBCUniversal. The former prosecutor was also chief of investigations for the state Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption.

Bart M. Schwartz

Chair, Guidepost Solutions
Bart M. Schwartz / Guidepost Solutions

Bart Schwartz knows about monitorships – in fact, he helped write the book on it. Schwartz has served as the federal monitor for the New York City Housing Authority, where he oversaw the implementation of a federal settlement with NYCHA. He was the federal monitor of General Motors, part of a deferred prosecution settlement between the automaker and the federal government over the sale of cars with defective ignition switches. He recently worked with the University of Michigan on remediation from sexual assault allegations and wrote a book chapter regarding when monitors should be appointed.

Dennis C. Vacco

Partner, Government and Corporate Investigations Practice Team Co-Leader, Lippes Mathias LLP
Dennis C. Vacco / Lippes Mathias LLP

Former state Attorney General Dennis C. Vacco now spends his time assisting clients in complying with state and federal regulations and in dealing with investigations by state attorneys general and a host of federal agencies. A former U.S. attorney for the Western District of New York, Vacco has been retained by Niagara County in a lawsuit against the state over 2023 state budget language that shifted control of Western Regional Off-Track Betting from rural GOP-led counties to Democratic appointees from Erie County and the city of Buffalo.

CONSTRUCTION — Randy J. Heller

Senior Partner, Gallet Dreyer & Berkey
Randy J. Heller / Gallet Dreyer & Berkey

One of the top construction litigators in New York, Randy J. Heller has navigated a number of multimillion-dollar construction disputes and helped pave the way for such notable projects in New York City as Yankee Stadium, One World Trade Center and the Second Avenue subway. He has a long track record of legal work on critical infrastructure, including roads, bridges and water treatment plants. In 2020, he was named “Lawyer of the Year” for excellence in construction litigation in New York City by U.S. News & World Report.

Ira J. Lipton

Partner, Hoguet Newman Regal & Kenney LLP
Ira J. Lipton / Andrew Walker

When the Metropolitan Transportation Authority needs the big guns in a legal dispute, they call Ira J. Lipton. The veteran attorney, who previously served as MTA senior counsel for litigation and in the New York City Law Department, has fended off numerous legal challenges, including from those seeking compensation due to the impact of construction on the Second Avenue subway and Grand Central Terminal and a class-action lawsuit seeking mandated transit platform barriers. The HNRK attorney is also leading the defense of a class-action lawsuit challenging the adequacy of the subway system’s elevators.

Robert Peckar

Founding Partner, Peckar & Abramson PC
Robert Peckar / Tony David Photography

A leader of the construction bar in New York City for over four decades, Robert Peckar has been effective at bringing creative dispute resolution and dispute avoidance to the influential construction industry, both in New York and around the country. Peckar’s work has taken a global turn as he works with international clients on issues related to corporate integrity and anti-corruption. A particular focus of Peckar’s work is the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

David Varoli

Deputy Commissioner of Legal Affairs and General Counsel, New York City Department of Design and Construction
David Varoli / NYC DDC

The New York City Department of Design and Construction plays an essential role, ensuring civic structures – courthouses, firehouses, police precincts, libraries – are in good shape. As the legal counsel at DDC for nearly a quarter century, David Varoli has helped the agency respond to the city’s biggest crises – from the post-9/11 World Trade Center site cleanup to Superstorm Sandy and the coronavirus pandemic – and has testified before Congress about best practices. He assists in awarding over $2 billion in contracts annually and advocates for design-build authorization and other legislative changes.

Michael Zetlin

Founding Partner, Zetlin & De Chiara LLP
Michael Zetlin / Zetlin & De Chiara LLP/ Lee Seidenberg Photography

As a founding partner of New York City-based Zetlin & De Chiara LLP, Michael Zetlin is a preeminent construction litigator with a nationwide scope. With training as a civil engineer and an attorney, Zetlin has facilitated the construction of all manner of projects, from renewable energy facilities to roads and bridges and airports to manufacturing and retail centers. The award-winning attorney is also the co-editor of “New York Construction Law,” an in-depth examination of construction law in the state.

ELECTIONS — Aria Branch

Partner, Elias Law Group
Aria Branch / Elias Law Group

If Democrats retake control of the House of Representatives in November, they may have Aria Branch to thank. Branch successfully argued before the state Court of Appeals in a lawsuit that overturned court-drawn congressional maps from 2022 and ordered a new round of redistricting. The Washington, D.C.-based attorney successfully represented Democratic officials opposing a Republican lawsuit to overturn the state’s vote-by-mail law. Her work includes representing candidates at all levels of government on their campaigns.

Joseph T. Burns

Owner, Law Office of Joseph T. Burns PLLC
Joseph T. Burns / Joseph T. Burns

Joseph Burns is using his experience as a former state Board of Elections official to establish himself as a Republican thought leader on election law issues. Burns testified before the U.S. House Elections Subcommittee last year on election administration, filed an amicus brief in a state redistricting case and has authored multiple op-eds on election law. A former treasurer of the Republican State Committee, Burns has served as an election attorney for Reps. Nick Langworthy, Elise Stefanik and Claudia Tenney and was a staffer for then-state Senate Judiciary Chair John DeFrancisco.

Jerry Goldfeder

Senior Counsel, Cozen O’Connor
Jerry Goldfeder / Cozen O’Connor

Top election law attorney Jerry Goldfeder has recently joined Cozen O’Connor as senior counsel and chair of the firm’s Political Law and Compliance group. A former special counsel for public integrity in the state attorney general’s office, Goldfeder is a prominent commentator and scholar on election law and ethics issues. He is the author of “Goldfeder’s Modern Election Law” and teaches at the Fordham School of Law, where he is director of the Voting Rights and Democracy Project.

Ali Najmi

Attorney, Law Office of Ali Najmi

A go-to attorney for progressive reform Democrats in New York City, Ali Najmi is in the process of leading litigation efforts with the Manhattan Democratic Party regarding district leader seats in Assembly District 68 on the Upper West Side. This case will be heard in the Appellate Division this term. Najmi also handled the case of former New York City Council Member Andy King, who was seeking to be on the 2023 ballot. In Brooklyn, Najmi is the counsel to the reform-minded New Kings Democrats.

Sarah K. Steiner

Attorney, Sarah K. Steiner, Attorney-at-Law

Election law attorney Sarah K. Steiner is a former chair of the election law committee for the New York City Bar Association, where she also leads annual programs on ballot access and running for judgeships. She has worked with clients at all levels of government representing their election law interests in both state and federal courts and in administrative proceedings before the state Board of Elections and the New York City Campaign Finance Board.

ENERGY — Philip DeCicco

New York General Counsel, National Grid
Philip DeCicco / James Diaz Photography

Philip DeCicco is a key legal executive at National Grid, a major investor-owned energy company focused on the transmission and distribution of electricity and gas and clean energy development. He drives innovative legal and policy solutions for more than 4 million customers from Niagara Falls to Long Island. DeCicco recently led a series of rate proceedings that funded more than $6.5 billion in investments to modernize New York’s energy infrastructure, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars for energy efficiency and customer affordability programs.

Yvonne Hennessey

Partner, Barclay Damon LLP
Yvonne Hennessey / Cindy Bell, Focus Studios

Yvonne Hennessey chairs Barclay Damon’s Environmental Practice Area and is co-leader of the firm’s Oil & Gas, Linear Infrastructure and Energy Markets teams. She advises an array of energy clients, with a focus on project siting and permitting in line with the state Environmental Quality Review Act and the ongoing implementation of the state’s landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. She was lead environmental counsel for the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency’s business park expansion to attract semiconductor tenants such as Micron. She has also represented National Grid and Greenidge Generation.

Doreen U. Saia

Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig LLP
Doreen U. Saia / Greenberg Traurig, LLP

Doreen U. Saia chairs the energy and natural resources practice at the Albany office of Greenberg Traurig, a top government relations firm nationwide. Saia has been involved in proceedings before state and federal agencies to structure New York’s competitive electric markets since their inception and brings an in-depth understanding of the New York Independent System Operator, which oversees wholesale electric markets and ensures grid reliability. She focuses on NYISO’s structure, including capacity market and other rules that drive market participation, and has been engaged in all major aspects of the state’s electric system transition. 

Daniel A. Spitzer

Partner and Renewable Energy Practice Co-Leader, Hodgson Russ LLP
Daniel A. Spitzer / Yves-Richard Blanc, Blanc Photographie

As a partner at Hodgson Russ, Daniel A. Spitzer counsels clients on a number of issues in the areas of the environment, clean energy, real estate development, land use and telecommunications. Spitzer leads the firm’s Cleantech, Green Building, Land Use and Economic Development, Real Property Tax Assessment and Eminent Domain Practices and co-leads the Renewable Energy Practice. Among the areas Spitzer focuses on are environmental assessments for large scale telecommunications projects and compliance with the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act.

Devlyn Tedesco

Counsel, Foley Hoag LLP
Devlyn Tedesco / Foley Hoag LLP

Devlyn Tedesco is a clean energy and climate specialist at Foley Hoag LLP, a Boston-based law firm with offices in New York, Washington, D.C., Denver and Paris. Tedesco handles such matters as clean energy regulation, permitting, interconnection and transactions, and she has done significant work in the battery storage space amid an ongoing clean energy shift in New York. Tedesco, who joined Foley Hoag in 2022 after a stint at Couch White, has spoken publicly in the past year about solar and wind development, interconnection reform and grid-scale battery storage.

GOVERNMENT — Catalina Cruz

Assembly Member
Catalina Cruz / Assembly

Before she was elected to the Assembly in 2018, Catalina Cruz was a housing attorney and applied her legal training to staff positions in the New York City Council and the Executive Chamber in Albany. Nowadays, she’s writing the laws, including such landmark measures as the Wage Theft Accountability Act, the Rape is Rape Act and the Clean Slate Act, which seals many criminal records after a certain time period. The Colombian-born Cruz is the only Latina lawyer serving in the state Legislature.

Ericka Fang

Senior Managing Counsel, MWBE, Empire State Development Corp.
Ericka Fang / Caroline Sinno Photography LLC

Cultivating minority- and women-owned businesses across New York sits at the heart of Ericka Fang’s work. As chief lawyer for the state Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development, Fang handles a host of legal issues related to MWBE economic development, including contracts, disparity studies and regulatory matters. Prior to serving the state, Fang was a partner at Kaufman, Borgeest & Ryan. She serves on the New York City Bar Association’s judiciary committee, where she reviews candidates for city, state and federal judgeships.

Lucy Lang

State Inspector General
Lucy Lang / NYS Inspector General's Office

The state’s 11th inspector general, Lucy Lang has been focused on transparency and integrity in her role in being an internal overseer of state operations. Lang has appointed attorneys-in-charge to oversee the state’s prison system, workers’ compensation fraud and welfare fraud. An investigation Lang launched into state agency compliance rules protecting employees who are victims of domestic violence led to Gov. Kathy Hochul issuing an executive order to strengthen protections. Lang has also initiated an audit of all state agencies to ensure compliance with state policies and procedures.

Rachana Pathak

Chief, Worker Protection Unit, Manhattan District Attorney’s Office
Rachana Pathak / Janai Willliams

Manhattan employers looking to exploit workers beware, Rachana Pathak will find you. The chief of the worker protection unit under Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, Pathak brings almost two decades experience as a prosecutor to her work. Among her accomplishments is the creation of a Stolen Wage Fund to cover restitution for stolen wages and winning manslaughter convictions in a 2015 East Village gas explosion that killed two people. Pathak has led the office’s Construction Fraud Task Force since 2020.

Justina K. Rivera

General Counsel and Deputy Comptroller for Legal Affairs, New York City Comptroller’s Office
Justina K. Rivera / Tamara A. Fleming

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has not been a fan of City Comptroller Brad Lander’s attempts to stymie the use of emergency contracts, and he has Justina K. Rivera to thank for it. Rivera, the comptroller’s general counsel, developed and executed the legal strategy to curb the use of the contracts. Outside of contract work, Rivera has been developing strategies to support minority- and women-owned businesses, and she has negotiated $1.5 billion in city claims and legal settlements, with an eye toward saving money and effective legal management.

Clarissa M. Rodriguez

Chair, State Workers’ Compensation Board
Clarissa M. Rodriguez / Jason Rodriguez

When it comes to workers’ compensation in New York, Clarissa M. Rodriguez can explain it all. The chair of the state’s Workers’ Compensation Board standardized telehealth as a permanent option for the system. She is also dedicating more resources to help injured workers, implementing paid family leave and farmworker protection measures, and spearheading a modernization program to shift paper-based forms and processes online. Rodriguez, who has chaired the Workers’ Compensation Board since 2017, was previously a litigator for The Legal Aid Society.

Allison Turkel

Special Master, September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, U.S. Department of Justice
Allison Turkel / U.S. Department of Justice

Allison Turkel was chosen last year by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to serve as the new special master for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which has awarded $12.8 billion to over 56,600 claimants since reopening in October 2011. In 2023, the fund resolved more claims and awarded more funds than in any year since its creation. Turkel previously worked in the Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime. She was also director of the National District Attorneys Association’s National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse.

Nick E. Smith

First Deputy Public Advocate, New York City Public Advocate’s Office
Nick E. Smith / Davaughn Cunningham

As New York City’s first deputy public advocate, Nick E. Smith has been an integral part of Public Advocate Jumaane Williams’ recent legislative wins. Smith helped develop Williams’ bills to increase police stop demographic reporting and to end solitary confinement, which passed over Mayor Eric Adams’ veto. Smith also orchestrated a series of federal meetings for Williams on housing and migrant issues during the pandemic. Over the course of his career, Smith has authored over 50 city laws and negotiated 200 city laws.


Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Patrick B. Jenkins & Associates
Dwayne M. Andrews / Eurila Cave

Dwayne M. Andrews is the senior vice president and general counsel of Patrick B. Jenkins & Associates, a highly sought-after government and community relations firm. Additionally, he is of counsel at Cohen Schneider Law PC, where he provides the firm’s education clients with strategic and legal advice. He recently provided key strategic advice and advocacy for several education clients that contributed to the passage of legislation to increase access to advanced courses for high school students, increase diversity in the teaching profession and provide funding for programs to promote college and career readiness.

Sarah Bangs

Managing Director, Bolton-St. Johns
Sarah Bangs / Natalie Cartz

The veteran state Senate staffer Sarah Bangs brought her talents to the private sector nearly five years ago, joining the top-tier lobbying firm Bolton-St. Johns. Bangs had previously held key governmental roles, including as deputy secretary for finance for the state Senate Democrats, counsel for the state Senate Aging and Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities committees, and legislative and policy director for a state senator. During this period, she helped negotiate state budget matters and advanced Lauren’s Law, which helps spur organ donations.

Sean Doolan

President, Hinman Straub
Sean Doolan / Hinman Straub

With more than three decades of experience in administrative law and government relations, Sean Doolan has established himself as a go-to attorney for clients in complex transactions, particularly within health care and insurance. He has worked with clients on policy development, transaction negotiation and development of regulatory compliance programs. As president of the full-service law firm Hinman Straub, Doolan leads strategy development and business growth for the firm. His expertise in health care policy is frequently relied upon by state and local policymakers.

Amy J. Kellogg

Partner, Harter Secrest & Emery LLP
Amy J. Kellogg / Super Source Media LLC

Amy J. Kellogg is the Government Affairs Practice Group leader and partner-in-charge of the Albany office of Harter Secrest & Emery, a full-service law firm with locations across New York. For over 20 years, Kellogg has lobbied on behalf of professional associations, businesses and nonprofits on legislative and regulatory matters at all levels of state government. She is an adjunct professor at Albany Law School, president of the Potsdam College Foundation board of trustees, board member of the National Association of State Lobbyists and secretary of the Albany Law School Government Law Center advisory board.

India L. Sneed-Williams

Founder and Managing Partner, IQEQ Law PLLC
India L. Sneed-Williams / India L. Sneed-Williams

Last fall, India L. Sneed-Williams launched IQEQ Law, which focuses on government and regulatory affairs, political law and compliance, and supporting minority- and women-owned businesses. Sneed-Williams brings a well-established reputation to her new firm, having held key governmental roles – serving in the de Blasio administration, as an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn, as a top staffer for two New York City Council members and as executive director of the Assembly Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus – as well as a four-year stint at Greenberg Traurig.

HEALTH — William Bernstein

Leader of Manatt Health and Board Chair, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP
William Bernstein / Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP

William Bernstein is a trusted adviser for health care organizations of all types, with a focus on advancing digital innovation and improving access to and affordability of care. He pioneered the firm’s Manatt Health group, which has more than 200 members and assists many leading health stakeholders. He recently spearheaded Manatt’s collaboration with the NYU School of Law as well as the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service to support the first-of-its-kind master’s degree in health law and strategy. He also advises the New York Safety Net Hospital Coalition and the New York eHealth Collaborative.

Kathy Hirata Chin

Partner, Crowell & Moring LLP

Kathy Hirata Chin has been a partner at Crowell & Moring since October 2018, when she moved over as part of the health care practice group from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, where she spent nearly four decades. A member of Crowell’s health care and litigation groups, she has helped health care providers and associations come out ahead in legal battles surrounding Medicaid reimbursement, billing and fair labor standards. Chin has served on the New York City Planning Commission, the New York City Commission to Combat Police Corruption and multiple legal and judicial screening commissions.

Steve Stein Cushman

Chief Counsel, MetroPlusHealth
Steve Stein Cushman / MetroPlusHealth

When Steve Stein Cushman joined MetroPlusHealth as chief counsel in December 2022, he brought with him years of experience at the intersection of law and government. He previously had served in the New York City Law Department since 1988, focusing on city operations, procurement and land use as he rose to the level of first assistant corporation counsel. At MetroPlusHealth, he has guided New York City’s 712,000-member public health insurance program through a major restructuring in his first year as in-house counsel.

Lindsay Maleson

Partner and Health Care Practice Group Leader, Nixon Peabody
Lindsay Maleson / Nixon Peabody LLP

Last fall, Lindsay Maleson was named the leader of Nixon Peabody’s national health care practice, succeeding Pete Egan. Maleson, who is based in the firm’s New York City and Long Island offices, guides academic medical centers, teaching hospitals, medical schools and hospital systems through regulatory and accreditation processes, and also advises medical staff and handles medical education and patient treatment issues. A partner at Nixon Peabody since 2011, Maleson also has served as national partner chair of the firm’s Women’s Resource Group.

Ellen H. Moskowitz

Senior Counsel, Proskauer

A member of Proskauer’s Health Care Group, Ellen Moskowitz works with clients on a number of issues, including complex health care regulatory matters, health care privacy and data security. Moskowitz also regularly writes and speaks on various topics in the health care policy and legal space. Her clients have included hospital systems, professional sports leagues, private equity firms and health management corporations. Previously, Moskowitz was associate counsel to the New York State Task Force on Life and the Law.

Mark Ustin

Partner, New York State Regulatory and Government Relations, Farrell Fritz
Mark Ustin / Farrell Fritz

Attorney Mark Ustin specializes in regulatory affairs and government relations, with a focus on health care institutions that interact with state government. He guides clients dealing with the state Legislature and the Executive Chamber as well as the state Department of Health, the Office of Mental Health, the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and the Office of Addiction Services and Supports. Ustin also writes about the latest trends in health care, including a focus on mental health and the impact of an aging population on long-term care.

LABOR — Richard A. Brook

Shareholder and General Counsel, Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein PC
Richard A. Brook / Ari Mintz Photography

A leading labor law attorney at the powerhouse firm of Meyer Suozzi, Richard Brook represents clients before a number of state and federal agencies. His practice is focused on representing international and local labor unions and union benefit funds in the full scope of employment law. Among his recent accomplishments is representing a union client in the negotiations with one of New York City’s largest school bus companies. Brook also serves on the board of the Union Lawyers Alliance.

Jae W. Chun

Partner, Friedman & Anspach

Jae W. Chun is a veteran attorney at Friedman & Anspach, a full-service labor, employee benefits and employment law firm that specializes in labor and employee benefits funds matters. An expert on collective bargaining and project labor agreements, Chun has represented labor unions and pension plans at the state and federal level, including in appearances before the National Labor Relations Board and the U.S. Department of Labor. He’s also active in the state and city bar associations in New York and is a member of the Union Lawyers Alliance.

Susan Davis

Partner and Management Committee Chair, Cohen, Weiss and Simon LLP

Susan Davis has spent over four decades at Cohen, Weiss and Simon, a labor law firm where she chairs the management committee. The firm, which bills itself as “one of the nation’s leading firms devoted exclusively to the interests of labor and working people,” handles everything from union representation to employee benefits to discrimination and harassment prevention and diversity, equity and inclusion. Davis has guided collective bargaining negotiations, union mergers and restructurings and U.S. Department of Labor investigations.

Pamela Jeffrey

Partner, Levy Ratner
Pamela Jeffrey / Daniel D'Ottavio

Pamela Jeffrey began her career in labor when she became an activist and then a staff organizer on District 65, United Auto Workers’ organizing drive at Columbia University that resulted in a groundbreaking contract for university support staff. She has since devoted her legal career at Levy Ratner to representing unions and workers in the exercise of their rights, including in collective bargaining, arbitrations, internal union governance, litigation and before the National Labor Relations Board in unfair labor practice and representation proceedings. Jeffrey is general counsel to 1199SEIU, representing over 400,000 health care workers.

Dina Kolker

Partner, Steptoe LLP
Dina Kolker / Steptoe LLP

Labor and employment attorney Dina Kolker has worked with some of New York City’s most high-profile unions, including the United Federation of Teachers, the Council of School Supervisors & Administrators and the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association, as well as the New York City Municipal Labor Committee, an influential umbrella group. When staffers in the New York City Council started to organize, they turned to Kolker as they formed the Association of Legislative Employees. Kolker recently joined Steptoe LLC after spending two decades at Stroock.


General Counsel, Chinese-American Planning Council
Alan Gerson / Chinese-American Planning Council

A former New York City Council member for lower Manhattan, Alan Gerson serves as general counsel for the Chinese-American Planning Council. In his work, Gerson developed COVID-19 protocols and rules for the organization to allow CPC to continue service delivery during the pandemic. He worked on legal and land use strategies to develop a new CPC mixed-use development on the Lower East Side that includes program space, senior housing, affordable housing, commercial space, market rate housing and the preservation of a historic house of worship.

Cindy Kanusher

Executive Director, Pace Women’s Justice Center
Cindy Kanusher / Elisabeth Haub, School of Law at Pace University

The Pace Women’s Justice Center’s Cindy Kanusher has focused her career on domestic violence and legal services for the underrepresented. Kanusher has spent over a quarter century at PWJC, a legal services provider for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and elder abuse in Westchester and Putnam counties. The center, which is part of Pace University’s Elisabeth Haub School of Law, has developed into a legal services and training center serving over 3,500 victims and survivors of interpersonal violence annually on her watch. Kanusher was named executive director in 2015.

Camille J. Mackler

Founder and Executive Director, Immigrant ARC
Camille J. Mackler / Caroline Sinno

Nearly four years ago, Camille J. Mackler founded Immigrant ARC, a coalition of some 80 legal service providers in New York that advocates for a fair and efficient immigration system. I-ARC has since expanded its budget from $350,000 to $1.6 million and the staff has grown from one to 19, putting the organization in position to respond to the influx of migrants and speak to the myriad policy questions involved. Mackler was previously director of immigration legal policy at the New York Immigration Coalition.

Andy Marra

Executive Director, Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund
Andy Marra / Janine Namgung

Andy Marra is a national leader in the movement for lived and legal equality for transgender and nonbinary people. The former state Senate candidate has since 2018 led the New York City-based Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, which after two decades of advocacy is set to merge with the National Center for Trans Equality in Washington, D.C., to become Advocates for Trans Equality, or A4TE. Marra, a veteran of the Arcus Foundation, GLSEN and GLAAD, will serve as A4TE’s CEO once the merger is complete.

Lisa Rivera

President and CEO, New York Legal Assistance Group
Lisa Rivera / New York Legal Assistance Group

In 2022, Lisa Rivera was elevated to lead the New York Legal Assistance Group, becoming the first Latina at the helm of the civil legal services organization. Rivera, who started out as associate director of the Matrimonial and Family Law Unit of NYLAG, has overseen an expansion of pro bono work, volunteer programming and trauma-informed and client-centered direct services. She recently penned a commentary in Ms. magazine warning of the impact of reduced funding for organizations such as hers under the federal Victims of Crime Act.

Susan Shin

Legal Director, New Economy Project
Susan Shin / Susan Shin

Last year, Susan Shin secured some notable legal victories, including a settlement in a federal civil rights class-action lawsuit against the New York City Transit Authority and a pivotal appeals court ruling rejecting more than a decade of case law that had undermined low-income New Yorkers’ basic due process rights in debt collection lawsuits. It’s the kind of work that drives Shin, legal director at the New Economy Project, which aims to support local economies by challenging unscrupulous corporations. Shin directs the organization’s legal strategies and oversees its legal services for low-income New Yorkers.

PUBLIC POLICY — Steven Banks

Special Counsel, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison
Steven Banks / Paul Weiss

Former New York City Social Services Commissioner and Legal Aid Society alum Steven Banks is in the thick of legal fights to protect the right to shelter in the city. He also represents the city in efforts to recoup migrant costs and on legal efforts to obtain employment certifications for migrants, as well as providing legal counsel to state Attorney General Letitia James’ reproductive rights task force. Banks led Paul Weiss’ successful representation of the New York City Board of Correction in a lawsuit over video monitoring of conditions at Rikers Island.

Josh Goldfein

Staff Attorney, The Legal Aid Society
Josh Goldfein / Spencer Gallop

A three-decade veteran of The Legal Aid Society, Josh Goldfein is focused on protecting and representing homeless New Yorkers. As a staff attorney of Legal Aid’s Homeless Rights Project, Goldfein has been the attorney of record in New York City’s right to shelter cases. He has litigated cases regarding foster care, remote education in homeless shelters and shelter for homeless former New York City Housing Authority residents. Goldfein has also worked on cases for prenatal care for immigrants, foster care benefits and housing subsidies.

Gregory Krakower

Chief Research, Legislative and Public Policy Consultant, New York State Trial Lawyers Association
Gregory Krakower / Gregory Krakower

Whistleblower attorney Gregory Krakower is a key policy adviser to the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. As a former counselor to the state attorney general and state Senate adviser, Krakower drafted the New York Fraud Enforcement Recovery Act and critical whistleblower rules and regulations for contractors, government agencies and charities. Recently, he helped draft a proposal to close a loophole in state tax whistleblower law that was signed into law last year. Krakower also spearheaded the passage of the I-STOP law, which overhauled the methods of issuing narcotic prescriptions.

Hernandez Stroud

Senior Counsel, Brennan Center for Justice
Hernandez Stroud / Rayon Richards

An expert on prison policy, Hernandez Stroud has been a key thought leader on the future of Rikers Island and New York City’s troubled Department of Correction. Stroud, a senior counsel at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, has conducted research on prisons that has spurred various policy proposals to overhaul the prison system. Stroud led his public health class at Columbia University to provide input on a proposal that inspired a correction reform bill introduced by U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey.

Jay Worona

Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel, New York State School Boards Association
Jay Worona / Life Touch

Education law and the role of school boards continue to grow in the American political discourse, and Jay Worona is New York’s resident legal expert on these subjects. The longtime top attorney for the New York State School Boards Association, Worona represents a membership consisting of approximately 700 school districts across the state. He successfully argued and won a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Board of Education of the Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet, involving the separation of church and state.

REAL ESTATE — Adam Leitman Bailey

Founder, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C.
Adam Leitman Bailey / Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C

Adam Leitman Bailey focuses on developing innovative legal strategies for his clients in the realm of real estate law. This has included finding efficient solutions to litigation, streamlining the foreclosures and eviction processes on both the landlord and tenant sides and building a successful real estate firm. His nonprofit organization, Building Foundations Inc, provides pro bono legal services and mentoring programs. To inspire students, he leads tours of Lower Manhattan.

Erica F. Buckley

Partner, Nixon Peabody LLP
Erica F. Buckley / Nixon Peabody

Erica Buckley brings to the private sector her experiences from the government and nonprofit worlds. As general counsel of the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board, she represented tenants in co-op conversions. At the state Attorney General’s Office, she regulated the real estate industry – and emphasized the importance of affordable homeownership. Lately, she has focused on legislative initiatives to increase homeownership in New York City. She was counsel to Cadman Towers, the first Mitchell-Lama building to vote in favor of converting to a permanently affordable cooperative under a program she created when she worked for the state attorney general.

Kenneth K. Fisher

Member, Cozen O’Connor

No one knows how to navigate New York City’s complex land use processes quite like Ken Fisher. The former New York City Council member from Brooklyn brings a deep background in government, real estate and land use to support a wide variety of clients. Fisher recently represented Middle Collegiate Church in obtaining Landmarks Preservation Commission approval to demolish the facade after a catastrophic failure. He also represented a group advocating for Madison Square Garden to move and have a new Penn Station and a public park take the existing location.

Marc Landis

Managing Partner, Phillips Nizer LLP
Marc Landis / Ali Garber

Last year was a blockbuster year for Marc Landis. He brought a successful pro bono case against the New York City Board of Elections securing the right to vote for former federal prisoners released to home confinement under the federal CARES Act. He also led the restructuring and recapitalizing the ownership of five New York City low-income housing developments and was special counsel to the Battery Park City Authority in issuing senior revenue sustainability bonds. Landis, whose work often intersects with government policies, is also a Democratic State Committee member from the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Michael E. Lefkowitz

Managing Member Rosenberg & Estis PC
Michael E. Lefkowitz / Rosenberg & Estis, P.C.

Commercial real estate attorney Michael E. Lefkowitz has assisted owners, developers and lenders recently during a period of distress in the commercial and residential real estate market, from facilitating forbearance and loan modifications to structuring joint ventures and purchases, sales and financing matters. He directed Rosenberg & Estis’ strategic growth to support clients navigating shifting zoning regulations, housing regulations, tax considerations and complex development hurdles. Lefkowitz, who’s also a leader of the firm’s Transaction Department, has made key hires in litigation, regulatory compliance and property tax efficiency matters, construction documentations and dispute resolution.

Renato Matos

Managing Partner, Capell Barnett Matalon & Schoenfeld LLP
Renato Matos / Capell Barnett Matalon & Schoenfeld LLP

A leading expert on working with religious organizations and nonprofits on complex real estate transactions, Renato Matos knows how to guide houses of worship through New York’s turbulent real estate waters. Matos is a primary organizer of Religious Law Advisors, which works as part of advisory teams for faith-based organizations to develop legal strategies that allow them to carry out their missions. He also serves as board president for the Council of Church Advisors.

Ross F. Moskowitz

Partner, Hogan Lovells
Ross F. Moskowitz / Hogan Lovells

Ross Moskowitz has established himself as one of the top land use attorneys in New York City. Among his most recent endeavors are advising Simone Development on the land use approvals for a new 800,000-square-foot development in the Bronx, which included 1,000 permanent affordable housing units. He worked with JetBlue on the regulatory approvals needed to construct its new John F. Kennedy International Airport terminal and guided developers through the approval process for the new Special Flushing Waterfront District. Moskowitz joined the U.S.- and U.K.-based law firm Hogan Lovells last fall.

Paul D. Selver

Partner and Co-Chair, Land Use, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP
Paul D. Selver / David Beyda Studio, NYC

Paul Selver is in the middle of some of the top land use discussions shaping the future of New York City. He coordinated the land use approvals and environmental review for a rezoning on the Upper East Side, paving the way for the creation of a new life sciences hub. Selver also worked on a rezoning on Staten Island that will produce 650 new market-rate and affordable apartments, and he has worked on zoning issues relating to last mile distribution centers in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island.

Martin Shaw

Founding Partner, Lester Shaw & Levy LLP
Martin Shaw / Lester Shaw & Levy LLP

Whether it’s representing landlords in long-term ground lease transactions, guiding developers through the various stages of the construction process, assisting sponsors in cooperative and condominium offerings or advising investors in developing in opportunity zones, Martin Shaw knows how it’s done. A founding partner of Lester Shaw & Levy LLP is an expert real estate attorney handling development, acquisitions, construction, sales, financing and litigation. He is also well-versed in alternate dispute resolution forums, including complex commercial contract and lease disputes, foreclosure proceedings, commercial landlord-tenant matters, construction-related litigation and appellate practice.


Principal, Lewis Johs Avallone Aviles LLP

Thomas J. Dargan brings expertise in complex civil litigation, transportation and insurance to his work representing trucking companies for Lewis Johs Avallone Aviles. Much of Dargan’s work is centered around representing self-insuring trucking and transportation companies, both directly and with their insurance companies. As part of his work, he has developed a catastrophic loss response manual for the firm’s clients. He also serves as a member of the trucking committee for the Defense Research Institute.

Matthew W. Daus

Partner and Chair of the Transportation Practice Group, Windels Marx
Matthew W. Daus / Windels Marx Lane & Mittedorf, LLP

Matthew Daus has established himself as a leader of New York’s transportation bar. New York City’s former top taxi regulator, Daus leads the Windels Marx transportation practice in representing clients on a range of transportation issues. The longtime president of the International Association of Transportation Regulators, Daus has authored a number of model transportation regulations and reports on a number of topics, including congestion mitigation and pricing, automated vehicle testing and wheelchair accessibility services.

Michael Fleischer

Attorney and Senior Adviser, Brown & Weinraub
Michael Fleischer / Timothy H Raab & Northern Photo

Anyone looking to do work in transportation in New York needs to know Michael Fleischer. Fleischer, a senior adviser at the top-ranked lobbying firm in state government, has been a key part of many of New York’s major transportation priorities, including during his service as executive director of the New York State Thruway and as first deputy state transportation commissioner. During his tenure at the Thruway, he led the authority in its first successful toll modification program in decades.

Paige Graves

General Counsel, Metropolitan Transportation Authority

As general counsel for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Paige Graves leads a team of over 350 attorneys and staff in providing legal services to the various components of the region’s principle mass transit system. Prior to becoming general counsel, she served as vice president and general counsel for the Long Island Rail Road and before that as vice president and general counsel for MTA Bus Co. She has over 25 years in law experience and is a former assistant district attorney in Manhattan.

Ronald Grosser

Counsel, Hawkins

An experienced public finance attorney, Ronald Grosser advises clients on alternate delivery methods for government contract procurements and public-private partnerships. He was the underwriters’ counsel and lenders’ counsel for the multibillion-dollar public-private partnership to redevelop Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport, a project completed in 2022 to much acclaim. He was also outside counsel for the New York City Department of Sanitation on procurement and negotiation of the deal to implement the city’s new solid waste management plan.

TRIAL LAWYERS — Michael Barasch

Managing Partner, Barasch & McGarry

Thousands continue to suffer adverse health effects from the 9/11 attacks, and Michael Barasch ensures they’re not neglected. Barasch represented NYPD Detective James Zadroga, whose death after exposure to toxic dust at the World Trade Center site spurred federal legislation to reopen funding for those facing such health issues. Last year, Barasch saw the addition of uterine cancer to the 9/11 registry and the passage of New York’s 9/11 Notice Act, which requires local business owners to notify employees of their right to apply to the World Trade Center Health Program and Victim Compensation Program.

Joseph Belluck

Managing Partner, Belluck & Fox LLP
Joseph Belluck / Joseph Belluck

Joseph Belluck’s work as a litigator on major issues may have gotten the attention of New York’s judges, but they know him better as chair of the state Commission on Judicial Conduct – a body he was just reappointed to for another four years. Belluck has been monitoring judicial behavior since 2008, and he was elected chair of the commission in 2016. In the courtroom, Belluck represented the state in the landmark tobacco settlements. Belluck is a SUNY trustee and was also appointed by Gov. Kathy Hochul as chair of the state Cannabis Advisory Board.

John J. Ciafone

Trial Attorney, The Law Office of John J. Ciafone
John J. Ciafone / John J. Ciafone

John J. Ciafone has a bustling law practice in Astoria, Queens, where he handles everything from personal injury and medical malpractice cases to criminal matters to real estate to wills and estates. But it doesn’t keep him from being engaged in New York’s civic life. The former candidate for New York City Council and for Queens Civil Court was appointed a New York City judicial hearing officer and administrative law judge for agency matters, including police, tobacco license and restaurant cases. He also served as president and treasurer of the local Community Education Council and volunteers as a certified EMT.

Terrence M. Connors

Partner, Connors LLP
Terrence M. Connors / Connors LLP

When the biggest cases in Western New York go to trial, you can often find Terrence M. Connors in the courtroom. The trial attorney represented the families of seven victims of the racist mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket, with the shooter sentenced to life in prison with no parole last year. Connors also represented the estate of a man who drowned on the Lockport Cave & Underground Boat Ride and an assistant Erie County district attorney facing an ethics investigation. The decorated attorney was also given the 2023 American Inns of Court Professionalism Award for the Second Circuit.

Anthony T. DiPietro

Founder, The DiPietro Law Firm
Anthony T. DiPietro / The DiPietro Law Firm

Anthony T. DiPietro, a prominent trial attorney and advocate for women’s rights, has garnered recognition for representing victims of sexual assault and medical malpractice. DiPietro’s accomplishments include landmark settlements against Columbia University and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, securing over $236 million for victims of abuse by Robert Hadden and recently filing a successful restraining order banning Columbia from further communication with Hadden’s patients, victims, survivors or putative class members. The New York State Trial Lawyers Association member is a staunch advocate for legislative reforms to protect the rights of victims of sexual assault and gender-motivated violence.

Evan H. Krinick

Managing Partner, Rivkin Radler LLP
Evan H. Krinick / Rivkin Radler LLP

Rivkin Radler’s Evan Krinick has had a transformative impact on Long Island over the years. The longtime outside counsel to the Long Island Power Authority, Krinick was involved in the decommissioning of Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant, defended the acquisition of its predecessor utility and advised LIPA in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Krinick, who has overseen dramatic growth at his firm, has also worked with Suffolk County and towns in the county on issues relating to the 2% property tax cap and represented Nassau County and the town of Hempstead in voting rights cases.

Angélicque M. Moreno

Founding Partner, Avanzino & Moreno PC
Angélicque M. Moreno / Vincente Villafane

Trial lawyer Angélicque M. Moreno is driven by her understanding of the impact of accidents on individuals and families and brings an ability to translate legal concepts of fault and damages to a jury in “everyday” terms. Moreno chairs the Trial Lawyers Section of the New York State Bar Association and serves on the New York City Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary. She is also the immediate past president of the New York State Puerto Rican Bar Association and a past president of the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers.

David L. Scher

Partner, Block O’Toole & Murphy
David L. Scher / Julia Dziadziak

David L. Scher, a partner at personal injury firm Block O’Toole & Murphy and an expert on construction accident law, is the current chair of New York State Trial Lawyers Association. As NYSTLA president, Scher has led efforts to pass the Grieving Families Act, which would update the state’s wrongful death statute to allow family members to seek damages for grief and anguish caused by a person’s death – not just financial losses. He has also testified in favor of salary parity for state judges on par with federal judges.

Jim Walden

Managing Partner, Walden Macht & Haran LLP
Jim Walden / John Madere of John Madere Photography

Since Jim Walden co-founded Walden Macht & Haran in 2015 with two other former assistant U.S. attorneys, the boutique white-collar defense and investigations firm has quickly established a strong reputation. Walden, a trial lawyer specializing in criminal, civil and regulatory matters, has taken on clients in a number of high-profile cases. He represents a former FDNY chief of fire prevention who claimed he was pressured to expedite the approval of a new Turkish consulate. Walden also worked with then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo and then-Mayor Bill de Blasio while they were in office.

Correction: This post has been updated to reflect that Marc Landis is a Democratic State Committee member, and no longer a district leader.

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