Insights into Insurance with Kyle Kirby

November 22nd, 2023 by

In this episode of the Rising Leaders of New York podcast, welcome guest Kyle Kirby, Personal Risk Specialist with USI Insurance.

Tune in to the episode for insights from Kyle Kirby:

  • Kyle’s career journey into the insurance industry
  • Common mistakes made when choosing insurance
  • What is umbrella insurance?
  • Insurance considerations when having multiple assets
  • Noticeable issues with catastrophe claims

Learn more about Kyle Kirby:


About the Rising Leaders of New York Podcast:

The Rising Leaders of New York Podcast is centered around conversations with today’s and future leaders of New York City, discussing the challenges and issues relevant to New Yorkers.  

 * Subscribe to the Rising Leaders of New York Podcast podcast on Apple:

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Connect with David Zwerin:  

 * Website:

 * LinkedIn:

 * Email:

Law, Religion, and Community with Rabbi Laurie Gold

November 3rd, 2023 by

In this episode of the Rising Leaders of New York podcast, welcome guest Rabbi Laurie Gold. A former defense attorney in New York and now a licensed rabbi.

Tune in to the episode for insights from Rabbi Laurie Gold:

  • Why Laurie temporarily put her lifelong desire to be a rabbi on hold while her path was paved to becoming a lawyer
  • The life event that spurred Rabbi Laurie to leave the legal profession and attend rabbinical school
  • Career highlights as a rabbi
  • The benefits of being part of a religious community, or joining a temple, church or mosque

Learn more about Rabbi Laurie Gold:


About the Rising Leaders of New York Podcast:

The Rising Leaders of New York Podcast is centered around conversations with today’s and future leaders of New York City, discussing the challenges and issues relevant to New Yorkers.  

 * Subscribe to the Rising Leaders of New York Podcast podcast on Apple:

 * Subscribe to the Rising Leaders of New York Podcast Video Series on Youtube:

Connect with David Zwerin:  

 * Website:

 * LinkedIn:

 * Email:

Family Law, Mindfulness, and Growing A Law Firm with Leona Krasner

October 3rd, 2023 by

In this episode of the Rising Leaders of New York podcast, welcome guest Leona Krasner, Esq., MBA. Leona is the Founder and Managing Partner of Krasner Law, PLLC, a rapidly growing family law practice helping people in New York and New Jersey with their family law needs in the areas of prenuptial agreements, separation agreement, custody, and restraining orders.

Tune in to this episode as Leona shares insights into:

  • How she decided to be a Matrimonial Attorney and start Krasner Law
  • Factors to consider to decide whether a prenuptial agreement is necessary
  • How virtual court has benefitted the court process, including more efficient proceedings
  • How to have personal growth in different aspects of life, marriage, work, productivity
  • Her experience with running her own law firm and helpful tips for those considering starting their own business or practice

A Brooklyn native, Leona studies Politics and Psychology at the College of Arts and Sciences at New York University, where she graduated cum laude. She then earned her Juris Doctorate at Washington Lee University School of Law, and then her Master’s of Business Administration from the Stern School of Business at New York University.

Leona has focused her legal career on litigation. She served as an Assistant Attorney General of New York, where she represented New York State and state employees including those of the New York State Department of Corrections and New York State Park Police.

Leona then served as a Litigation Consultant for a number of international law firms and served on pre-trial teams to help get complex international finance, securities regulation, antitrust, and regulatory cases ready for either trial or settlement.

Leona decided to launch her family law firm to work one-on-one with clients to really help make a real difference in their lives. She believes that nothing is more important than family, so being able to prepare prenuptial agreements, effectuate divorces, assist with child-related matters such as custody, visitation, child support, and paternity, and litigate or settle restraining order matters for clients really fulfills her each day.

Leona is also Chair of Communications of the Women In Law Section of the New York State Bar Association. She is also on the Executive Committee of the Young Lawyer’s Section of the New York State Bar Association and is a member of the Events Committee of the New York Women’s Bar Association. She is also a member of the New York City Bar Association and the New Jersey State Bar Association.

When not practicing law and mentoring her amazing team, Leona enjoys tutoring students through her tutoring company, Krasner Review, LLC, organizing concerts for children through her nonprofit organization Tunes for Tots & Teens, and having adventures with her husband, Michael.

Learn more about Leona Krasner:


About the Rising Leaders of New York Podcast:

The Rising Leaders of New York Podcast is centered around conversations with today’s and future leaders of New York City, discussing the challenges and issues relevant to New Yorkers.

Subscribe to the Rising Leaders of New York Podcast podcast on Apple:

Subscribe to the Rising Leaders of New York Podcast Video Series on Youtube:

Connect with David Zwerin:

A Rising Voice for Democracy in Queens with Ethan Felder

September 13th, 2023 by

In this episode of the Rising Leaders of New York podcast, welcome guest Ethan Felder. Ethan is a community leader and labor lawyer in Forest Hills, Queens.

Tune in to this episode as Ethan shares insights into:

  • the urgent need to address the current climate crisis in New York City and create more secure jobs with better labor protection
  • the importance of contested elections and public financing of campaigns to give grassroots candidates a chance in local politics
  • the importance of unions and essential workers in keeping our economy running and creating a fair and just economy for all

Ethan started his career as a lawyer in the financial sector, where he witnessed mass layoffs of workers following the 2008 economic crisis and became profoundly concerned about the economic insecurity affecting families. This experience led him to start a new journey as a labor lawyer representing Unions in their fight for workers’ rights.

Since then, Ethan has dedicated his career to giving the most vulnerable workers access to justice, including cleaners, transit workers, firefighters, door people, handy people, superintendents, steamfitters, and construction workers. He has also fought for the mental health and rights of essential workers such as nurses, security guards, school safety agents, police, and correction officers, prioritizing support for those who need it most, including women, youth, and immigrants.

Learn more about Ethan Felder:

About the Rising Leaders of New York Podcast:

The Rising Leaders of New York Podcast is centered around conversations with today’s and future leaders of New York City, discussing the challenges and issues relevant to New Yorkers.

Subscribe to the Rising Leaders of New York Podcast podcast on Apple:

Subscribe to the Rising Leaders of New York Podcast Video Series on Youtube:

Connect with David Zwerin:

Parking Violations and Road Safety in New York City with Arthur L. Miller

August 30th, 2023 by

In this episode of the Rising Leaders of New York podcast, welcome guest Arthur L. Miller. Arthur is a traffic ticket attorney and an advocate for the trucking industry.

Tune in to this episode as Arthur shares insights into:

  • the need for better messaging around road safety
  • concerns about revenue-driven ticketing
  • regulations and recommended training for different types of transportation
  • the importance of investing in quality insurance coverage
  • suggested improvements to advocacy and communication efforts to promote better pedestrian safety
  • potential nuances surrounding parking violations and the potential for abuse or harassment by individuals issuing the tickets

The law firm of Arthur L. Miller specializes in transportation and traffic issues for the truck and bus industries. Advice and representation is provided to clients and their employees concerning New York City, State and federal agencies that regulate their operations. For traffic tickets and notices of violation, appearances are made, as needed, before courts and agencies throughout the New York City metropolitan area. With an extensive professional network, coverage is provided throughout New York State and in other states.

Regular appearances are made at the New York City Parking Violations Bureau, where the firm handles hundreds of tickets each week, the NYS Traffic Violations Bureau, the NYS DOT and local criminal courts.

Personalized attention is provided to fleet operators large and small. From national distribution firms to owner operators, their ticket problems are handled; most often without the driver having to go to court. Representative clients include truck leasing firms; dairy, beverage and snack distributors; construction and service companies; and bus operators.

Arthur Miller also helps clients and their drivers understand relevant regulations and creates programs to assure compliance and help avoid getting cited for violations.

He previously served as the in-house safety and compliance officer for an interstate environmental services company.

Learn more about Arthur Miller:


About the Rising Leaders of New York Podcast

The Rising Leaders of New York Podcast is centered around conversations with today’s and future leaders of New York City, discussing the challenges and issues relevant to New Yorkers.

Subscribe to the Rising Leaders of New York Podcast podcast:

Subscribe to the Rising Leaders of New York Podcast Video Series on Youtube:

Connect with David Zwerin:

Workers Comp Uncovered with Aaron Sanders

August 17th, 2023 by

In this episode of the Rising Leaders of New York podcast, welcome guest Aaron Sanders. Aaron is a Workers’ Compensation attorney, Vice President of the Injured Workers’ Bar Association and Partner at Zea Proukou PLLC (pronounced Zay-uh Pro-co) in Rochester, NY and the Finger Lakes region.

Tune in to this episode as Aaron shares insights into:

  • how to start a workers compensation claim
  • tangible issues with the workers’ compensation claim process
  • common misunderstandings about the workers compensation system
  • existing and proposed regulations in the industry

Aaron Sanders has spent his entire career practicing New York State Workers’ Compensation law and has handled thousands of hearings in front of the Workers’ Compensation Board. His practice is dedicated entirely to representing injured workers and he combines his extensive knowledge of the law with his litigation experience to make sure his clients receive the benefits and payments to which they are entitled.

Aaron has presented at multiple Continuing Legal Education programs, instructing other attorneys on various aspects of the Workers’ Compensation Law. His lectures have focused on a variety of topics, including ways to avoid common delays in the process that prevent injured workers from receiving their payments and medical care in a timely manner.

Aaron is the First Vice President of the Injured Workers’ Bar Association in the state of New York.  He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Workers’ Compensation Alliance and is a member of the New York State Bar Association, the Monroe County Bar Association, the Ontario County Bar Association, the Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys and the Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group.

Learn more about Aaron Sanders:


About the Rising Leaders of New York Podcast

The Rising Leaders of New York Podcast is centered around conversations with today’s and future leaders of New York City, discussing the challenges and issues relevant to New Yorkers.

Subscribe to the Rising Leaders of New York Podcast podcast:

Subscribe to the Rising Leaders of New York Podcast Video Series on Youtube:

Connect with David Zwerin:

Health and Wellness with Former NFL Player David Caldwell

July 28th, 2023 by

In this episode of the Rising Leaders of New York podcast, welcome guest David Caldwell. David Caldwell is a Professional Dot Connector, former NFL player, and currently the vice president of the New York City, Long Island chapter of the NFL Alumni Association.

Tune in to this episode as David Caldwell shares insights into:

  • his initiatives in the health and wellness industry in NY and NJ
  • what he does to address healthcare in the community
  • the synergy with attorneys who want to serve their injured clients
  • his latest project, providing support for people to maximize their potential

David Caldwell is a business development consultant who helps businesses increase their profit margins, and better serve their mission. He most often works with people in the healthcare space, and those who service the healthcare space.

Learn more about David Caldwell

Visit his business website:
Connect with David on LinkedIn:
Connect with David on Instagram:

About the Rising Leaders of New York Podcast

The Rising Leaders of New York Podcast is centered around conversations with today’s and future leaders of New York City, discussing the challenges and issues relevant to New Yorkers.

Subscribe to the Rising Leaders of New York Podcast on Apple Podcasts

Subscribe to the Rising Leaders of New York Podcast Video Series on Youtube

Read the full transcript:

VOICEOVER ( 00:00:01): Welcome to Rising Leaders of New York with your host David S. Zwerin of Hill & Moin LLP. They present to you conversations with today’s and future leaders of New York City discussing the challenges and issues relevant to New Yorkers. You can find this show at and on Youtube, LinkedIn, Apple podcast, Spotify, Google podcast and more. Now, here are the hosts of Rising Leaders of New York.

DAVID Z. ( 00:00:38): Good evening. My name is David Swain. You are listening to the first episode of Rising Leaders of New York. I am the senior trial partner here at Hill & Moin LLP. We’re a plaintiff’s personal injury firm focusing particularly on construction Act and premises liability cases. And on this podcast, we’re gonna be having some interesting conversations with some of today and future leaders of New York and New York State who are on the cutting edge of the relevant critical issues that you need to know about in our day to day life in New York City and New York State. Today. I have the distinct pleasure of having on the podcast as my first guest, my friend David Caldwell. David Caldwell is the Vice president of the New York City Long Island Chapter of the NFL Alumni Association. He also was a former NFL player and it’s my pleasure to welcome on the podcast, David Caldwell. How are you doing, David?

DAVID C. ( 00:01:38): I’m doing well. Always good when I can connect with you. So, I’m happy to be here. Didn’t know I was gonna, I’m gonna be the first guest, so excited about that. So, we’ll hopefully we’ll set the bar pretty high.

DAVID Z. ( 00:01:50): I’m very happy to have you, you with us to kick off the podcast. Tell a bit a little bit about yourself. First of all, what is the NFL Alumni Association? What is your role in it?

DAVID C. ( 00:02:02): Yeah. So I’m the Vice president of our New York City chapter, as you mentioned. Um as well as Long Island can’t leave them out. But my particular role, it was very important for me when joining to focus on a particular area that I was very much interested in. That’s a part of my day to day and that’s health care and narrow down to actually health and wellness. So what I do is I focus on providing a lot of the former players, different types of support that focus around health and wellness. Obviously, we all know football is a very brutal sport and it’s one where you have a lot of health and wellness provided to you while you’re playing but then when you’re gone, you don’t necessarily have that same support system. So it’s important for us. Um, when you have guys that are 20 in their twenties playing something and then 10 years down the line, 15 years down the line and so on. Uh, you know, they need a lot of, you know, they, they, they need some of their questions answered and they need, to be able to get the support, that they would, that would probably fit a lot of their needs. I mean, we have different events where we got guys that are limping around in their thirties and their forties and they just don’t feel the need to go see somebody or a little laziness on their part. But what we pretty much come in and do is make sure that we can connect them with anything that they would need, whether it’s a boxing instructor to just kind of get them up and going, whether it’s a chiropractor, a physical therapist, somebody to help them with their mental health, it’s really, just mind, body and soul healing that we try to provide to the former players.

DAVID Z. ( 00:03:35): And how did, well, first of all, tell everybody who did you play for in the NFL? And what was your position? Right.

DAVID C. ( 00:03:41): So I played safety. I can’t talk about the NFL without mentioning William and Mary my college. Uh after that was able to play about 2.5 years with the Colts was with them and then was with the Giants briefly. My home team that was exciting. And then after that went up to Canada, to Hamilton and I loved it up in Canada. Canada was an amazing place to live. The pay was a little bit different, just a little bit. But, after two years in Canada decided to come back down here and, figure out life after football

DAVID Z. ( 00:04:13): and what did you figure out when you came down here?

DAVID C. ( 00:04:14): I figured out that I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do. No idea what to do. Uh, you know, here I came from, you know, I was in my, what, 21 22 23 making some pretty good money, you know, for a young, 20 year old or a young kid in his twenties. And then I had to figure out a way. But fortunately for me, I always had, you know, a strong support system and a foundation built on academics and things outside of sports. So, and that just comes from my parents. Um, you know, sports was never the number one thing for me. It was always, you know, make sure you get your grades and then if that’s ok, you can play sports. It was always just the extra thing that my parents just allowed me to, you know, compete at and, you know, wanted to take it as far as I could and then use it as a platform to whatever else that I was gonna get involved in. So it’s not that I was nervous, but I just really didn’t know, you know how my skills would transfer or what industry they would transfer to. So it was a little bit of a dilemma, but, you know, we figure it out.

DAVID Z. ( 00:05:15): Was there anything in particular about your upbringing or your time in your NFL that led you to have a, a focus on health and wellness after your playing career was over. Definitely.

DAVID C. ( 00:05:24): So on my mom’s side, I feel like everybody’s a teacher. My grandfather was a principal. My mom, she’s more popular than me in my town. She’s like the teacher of the, of the year every year. That’s what she was when she was teaching seriously, when we go to shop, right? Or whatever supermarket we go to people knew her, not me. So she was that so that established, you know, definitely, an academic foundation. And then my dad on his side, he was the youngest of nine kids. The only one not born on a share cropping farm and the first one to go to college. So college city college in New York did tremendous wonders and provided a lot of opportunities for him. So on one side and it kind of combined. But, you know, I had the academics here, but I also had this belief in myself on the other end, just based on them that, you know, there’s a lot out here that I can do if I apply myself. And, I’m willing to work hard and sacrifice for it. So

DAVID Z. ( 00:06:22): cool. I didn’t know that about you that you, your mom was a teacher of mine as well. So I also, uh come from maybe a little bit of a different but similar background in that passion for education. And that really being a guiding principle to what you want to accomplish in life. The kids

DAVID C. ( 00:06:39): that grow up where one of their parents is a teacher or two of their parents, a teacher, those are the most special kids. They say that the kids with the parents are the teacher. I just made that up. But

DAVID Z. ( 00:06:49): my kid, my kid is lucky then because his mom is a teacher. Here we go see that. You and I know each other a bit for a while. We were doing a weekly and then I think it became a, a biweekly meeting together. I haven’t seen you in a, in a little bit. So tell me what you’ve been up to and what are some of the of the work you’re doing presently, the initiatives you’re working on in the, the health and wellness industry these days, David.

DAVID C. ( 00:07:18): Definitely. So it’s been a lot and in a good way, in a very good way and I guess I’ll, you know, tell everybody what I do first and foremost. So I’m a business development consultant. What does that mean? All right. So I help companies increase, not just their profit margin but how do they increase their profit margin? How do they better serve whatever their mission is to their clients, to their customers? So, most of the time I’m working in the health care space. So I work with surgeons, other specialists. I work with attorneys like yourself. I work with anybody that’s involved in health care from a marketing perspective, commercial perspective at any of these different things to figure out how I can better help you bring a, a better value to whoever it is you’re serving. So that’s what we do. That’s a, that’s kind of not what we do. That’s what I do. So that has led me to a few different things and mainly focusing on health and wellness throughout our communities. And that’s where the NFL alumni combines with what I’m doing in my day to day because the NFL Alumni mission is to help the community, help the kids. So one of the biggest areas that I try to focus on and a lot of us in the alumni is how can we bring better health and wellness overall, overall comprehensive health care to our communities and it’s different in every community. But a lot of times when we look at and we sit down with the mayor and we sit down and like, say, hey, what are the leading causes of death in this area? Why are people dying five years earlier here than five miles down the road or two miles down the road? So we try to customize different programs to work with any of your city agencies, any of your state agencies, county agencies, anybody in your community that we think is seen as what we call them just influencers, you know, so I know we had the group health care influencers. We try to address the influencers because if we can help change the culture and, and to a more healthier culture to where people are more, well, we feel that that can trickle down and spread throughout and it’s a, it’s a big issue, you know, health and without our health, you know, obviously, you know, ee everything kind of goes away. So it’s just uh it’s just something that we’re, we’re very passionate about and that we focus on.

DAVID Z. ( 00:9:44): Yeah, having known you for a while, David, I can say it’s, it’s not an act. David is, is one of the most passionate people. I know out there about just generally keeping uh people, people healthy, which uh I guess some people might think that’s an interesting uh compliment uh talking to the plaintiff’s personal injury attorney. My focus obviously deals with situations where something terrible has happened and someone is not well anymore Uh but we both kind of like the same objective. We, we do want people to live a healthy, happy, good life. And I think there’s a lot to be gained by having good relationships uh and doing good by people out in the world and hopefully keeping them healthy and productive in their day to day job because actions are going to happen. And when they do, uh my hope is they know what legal representation to speak. But also they have all the resources they need, whether it’s from people like you or anybody else who can point them in the right direction to get good medical attention they’re going to need in addition to the legal representation if they have a case. Uh because there are a lot of serious, serious decisions to be made when you have an accident, right,

DAVID C. ( 00:11:02): David 100%. And I think what separates you personally as well as your firm. When I talked about everything with, you know, developing health and wellness programs, that’s something that you’ve actually been on board with. So it’s not like you’re the type of attorney that’s just looking for, you know, focusing on when somebody’s injured. Yes, that’s your expertise of how you can help and provide a certain level of assistance to people so that they can have the support to get back healthy. But what I’ve noticed with you is that it starts a lot earlier, you know, you want people to, you know, trust, there’s a certain level of trust and that’s something that from a business development standpoint when we talk to our clients, whatever it is that they’re saying that they’re doing, they need to establish that trust with their clients, with their patients, with their customers, whatever it may be. And that’s something that has really stood out with you. Where, where at first when I’m telling you, like, yo, you know, we’re gonna do some health and wellness. You know, a lot of people would be like, wait, you know, health and wellness that’s not, you know, the space that I’m in, you know, I just deal with this area. You’re, you’ve always shown that you’ve been completely invested in just creating a healthier communities and I would say that you’re in the health and wellness space just as much as anything that we’re doing.

DAVID Z. ( 00:12:15): Well. I appreciate that. Thank you for all the compliments, David. I tend to agree. I think attorneys, doctors and people such as you are a little bit tangential but are interested in not to be political but kind of in making health and wellness, something that’s a right for all New Yorkers. Uh at least giving them the resources and the education to know where to go and what they should be thinking about medically when they have an accident. That very much into the things I think about which from a legal perspective is when somebody comes into my office and they’ve had a serious accident. What kind of legal knowledge do we need to impart on those people to make sure they’re making the right legal decisions? As they go forward on what may be a very difficult journey or in a new time in their life after they’ve potentially had a very serious accident and they may have a very serious and significant case to be brought against somebody depending on the fact, whether it’s a car accident, or a trip and fall in and outside of a building or whether it’s a, a union carpenter that’s followed on from a scaffold. There’s a lot of decisions to be made and really, they all are pretty tangential to the health and wellness sphere.

DAVID C. ( 00:13:32): No, I agree 100% everything that you just mentioned and a lot of times just, just looking at it from different perspectives and gaining an understanding from different angles. So, we like to think that everybody has the same goals, you know, to get people healthier, but you know, not everybody does, but that’s why you connect with certain people that share the same, the same mission. And just kind of go from there and just try to spread everything that we’re doing throughout our communities

DAVID Z. ( 00:14:00): and not for nothing positive is not a bad thing in life. And I know that you David are one of the most relentlessly positive people I’ve ever met and, , I certainly try to be a positive person too, but I’ll say that, , you know, in, in my business, I work very, very hard for my client, but these cases aren’t always positive all the time. We fight very, very hard for our, our clients, but they’re going through a lot and it’s a, and it’s a tough situation when you’ve already had the accident and a client is just trying to get better and trying to get fair and reasonable compensation, but they’re already suffering. So it’s really a pleasure to be associated with someone like yourself who cares about keeping people healthy. Uh, when they haven’t had that accident yet where where they need , an attorney such as myself. And, , and it’s nice to think about what can be done to generally let people have better lives. Uh, because accidents are going to happen regardless. There’s a lot of bad drivers out there, there’s a lot of bad sidewalks or bad conditions or bad working practices on job sites, things are going to happen inevitably. Uh, but people should know what to do in terms of their medical decision making in their daily lives. And it’s, and I appreciate them having a resource such as you.

DAVID C. ( 00:15:22): No, it’s, it’s i it’s probably one of the most vulnerable feelings that you can have just being injured and then to add on to that if you don’t have somebody that can help guide you through the process that’s not trying to get over on you. Somebody that just puts your, puts you in their shoes or puts you in, you know, I’m gonna treat you as if you know you’re a relative of mine to kind of guide you through the health care, guide you through the legal aspects of it because it can be tough. II I tell people all the time, like my, how I saw health care, the legal side of it, every different part of it is entirely different than when I actually got into it. And I’m still just learning a lot of stuff, you know, so people need to be able to rely on somebody that can help guide them through this because they’re just trying to get back healthy. It’s like it would already be difficult to, you know, figure out the process if you were, you know, 100% healthy. You know, now you gotta add the fact that somebody is not the best versions of themselves and they still have to go through this process. So it’s good to have people that can help guide them.

DAVID Z. ( 00:16:26): Very true. So as we start putting a bow on the 2022 what kind of things are you focusing on in 23? What are you looking to accomplish then? And what should people know about you

DAVID C. ( 00:16:39): So I focus on two different things. So one, the health and wellness programs going to different communities in New York and New Jersey and really just figuring out customized programs that are simple, practical and just work to get not only the city, state, you know, county town agencies, but also just the overall community healthier. It’s a problem. It’s a problem throughout the country and it’s something that can be fixed. But if people don’t have the information and people don’t have the support, it’s just not gonna happen, it’s hard enough to do it when you have the information and support. So that’s definitely the focus working on a lot of the health and wellness with the community leaders. So that way we can spread that throughout the communities. That’s the one side, the other side is ohg I of what we call OG. So it’s an acronym for out here getting it and it just focuses on providing people the same support that we’d be providing for the health and wellness, but now providing it for them to just maximize their potential in whatever area of life that you know they’re in. So we’re releasing our OG dot com platform both kind of serve the same purpose but just address it from different perspectives. So we have the health and wellness programs and then we have OG, which is just focusing on getting people to have the support and to believe in themselves that they can achieve anything and everything. You know, I’m big on that. So I just wanna be able to provide a support that can get people to maximize in every area of their lives. You know, whether it’s family, whether it’s professional, whether it’s personal, all these different aspects, you wanna start a business, let’s do it and connect in the right people. So that way you can build out your network. So that’s what we’re focusing on those two things. Very cool.

DAVID Z. ( 00:18:30): And 

DAVID C. ( 00:18:32): and what about you, what about you, what we got going on your way?

DAVID Z. ( 00:18:35): What have I got going on? Well, right now, right now we’re doing this, we’re doing this for this podcast and otherwise, the mission contains, continues the same. I’m always looking to be introduced to people that may have been involved in a construction accident, in particular. Our firm is one of the top rated firms in terms of helping injured victims who suffer falls or other injuries while they’re working on a construction site. as well as people who suffer any kind of work related injury, who might have a case to sue a third party, that’s not their employer, whether they trip and fall on a sidewalk or have something happen inside a building or any kind of case like that where we can bring a case on someone’s path because someone negligent caused a serious injury. Our commission always contains the same to help those kind of people who are beyond the help that you can provide. They’re not healthy and wealthy anymore. Uh, and they need a good personal injury attorney to make sure they are pointed in the right direction to make the right direction, to make sure, they’re making the right choices on their behalf to have the best possible case, to have the best chance of recovery. Um, and we’re always looking to meet those kind of people as well as, , the people that can introduce us to those kind of people. That’s my mission in life is to help the injured victims of New York. Just like, uh, I enjoy talking to you because it’s your mission in life to, uh, hopefully keep people healthy until they hopefully don’t become an injured victim of New York. But some of them are going to be and I’m here for them

DAVID C. ( 00:20:13): and people are gonna get injured. Like you said, people are gonna have accidents even with, you know, some of us good drivers, you know, we still have, you know, every once in a while we get into something, but it’s, like you said, it makes the entire experience, I’m a lot easier to deal with. Um, depending on who you’re dealing with. So, depending on who you have on your side, you know, as your support system. So it’s, yeah, it’s exciting. We, we, we, we do the same work we do the same work.

DAVID Z. ( 00:20:43): Yeah, other than that, we’re just, working hard here and, looking forward to a good, happy, healthy holiday season. And since we’re, since I got a football player on the line, I’d be remiss to say also I’m grieving at the 49 Ers fan. Uh, the, end of Jimmy Garoppolo season.

DAVID C. ( 00:20:59): I didn’t know you were a 49. I grew up a 49ers fan. I’m not, I’m not anymore. I kind of stopped when I got to, like, I think, like college, I, I didn’t, I, now I just root for players but, I grew up a 49ers fan. Yeah, Steve Young. And then when they won it, what did they win it in 95? No, 94. They won it in 94 94 95 94 95. And then the Cowboys won the next year. But, they had everybody on the team. They had Dion Martin Hank Steve. I was a 49ers fan. But, yeah, we’re gonna get in trouble. We got to talk Giants, right. We gotta talk Giant Giants. But

DAVID Z. ( 00:21:31): because we can make this a whole different podcast, we can start talking football for the next 30 minutes. But, I think we, I think we get a little off topic so you and I can talk football at some other time. But, I would surely,

DAVID C. ( 00:21:45): is it, because this is one of those things that I always think about. Um, well, just popped up, I should say. But over the holiday season, are people, is this a time where, you know, people tend to get in to a little bit more accidents, people being on the road, people rushing to different things. Not that we don’t rush in our regular day to day lives. But, it, it would almost seem to me that, you know, there would be more accidents now than, other times maybe, or maybe I’m off.

DAVID Z. ( 00:22:13): Um, well, I don’t have the, the data on, a very micro level, but in my experience having done this for over a decade now, I, I think there definitely is an increase in almost any kind of type of personal injury case. I think people are rushing more on the road. I think there probably are more drunk drivers on the road. People, stay out late going to more holiday parties and, if we’re God willing going into a year with where COVID is less a concern, more in person, things where people can really let loose and, maybe make some decisions that aren’t the best for them. So I think there’ll be an increase in motor vehicle accidents. I think for the same kind of reasons you could see an increase in people, having accidents just, walking about in their day to day life or in their home or at their job site. Um, and not for nothing. Well, it’s a beautiful but a little bit cold, late fall day here, snow is not too far away and, all the, slippery, icy conditions that come with it are, another thing that New Yorkers need to be careful about as they head into this winter season. So, we’re here for people whenever it happens and accidents do happen around the holiday season and in the winter.

DAVID C. ( 00:23:28): And that’s a good point because I was only focusing on the car accidents. And I feel like a lot of people when they hear about it, they may think that you only take care of car accidents, but really, as, as I’m sure you’ll explain now it’s across the board, you know, it could be anything.

DAVID Z. ( 00:23:45): Sure. I would, I would say that our main focus here at Hill & Moin is to help people who are injured on someone’s premises, whether that’s in front of a building or inside a building or a particular kind of premise that we focus on are construction workers who are injured on the job. Uh, but we certainly know how to hand or handle motor vehicle cases as well as, uh many other kinds of cases where people are horribly and seriously injured due to someone else’s negligence or a violation of the law, motor vehicle, motor vehicle accidents while they, tend to be the news crappers. They’re certainly not the only case we, we know how to handle here

DAVID C. ( 00:24:27): and those, those construction workers, we talk about a brutal sport being football, they, they deal with it, in, in their own way, you know, just as much and, you know, they, I, I can only imagine some of the, the catastrophic injuries but all the way down to some of the smaller injuries that just impact you being able to, you know, go to work and, you know, do your job.

DAVID Z. ( 00:24:47): It’s very true. Uh People hopefully never have to have the kind of uh injuries that we deal with on a lot of our cases here, whether it’s a traumatic brain injury or people requiring a serious spinal injury or uh or broken bones with implantations of uh plates and screws. We really run the gamut and have clients with all sorts of serious injuries here at Helen Mone and we work very hard to make sure they get the fair and reasonable compensation that they deserve. Uh But yeah, they come in all shapes and sizes and they’re not serious. Uh sorry, they do come in all same sizes and they are quite serious. Uh So it’s nice to have someone on the line here who’s uh shares my uh passion that hopefully people can stay well and have a nice and healthy happy holiday season where none of that happens to you

DAVID C. ( 00:25:44): 100% 100%. So I appreciate you having me on, bro. I appreciate, I’m my big bro. I feel like I gotta just talk to you as if I’m talking to you in person. You know, I always call you big, bro because I appreciate what you do. No.

DAVID Z. ( 00:25:57): Same to you. Same to you. I know, I like you call a lot of people a big bro, whether they’re actually older than you or not. It’s, I know that that’s

DAVID C. ( 00:26:07): a good, you know, it’s a good point because it has nothing to do with age. It’s just a more of a respect thing, you know, people that I respect in my life, you know, that’s something that, uh you know, when we get to a point where, you know, I see you as, you know, us being close friends. Uh It’s just a, you know, a term of it’s endearment, you know. So, like I said, I appreciate you.

DAVID Z. ( 00:26:27): I appreciate you, respect to you David Calwell and uh respect for being our first guest this week on the very first episode of rising leaders of New York. My name is David, the senior trial attorney at here at Hill & Moin and we’ll be back next week with another exciting guest with uh an up and coming future leader of New York that you need to know. Have a great evening everybody.

VOICEOVER ( 00:26:51): You’ve been listening to rising leaders of New York hosted by David Zwerin of Hill & Moin LLP. You can catch prior episodes at and on Youtube, LinkedIn, Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and more. Thank you for your positive reviews, comments and sharing this show with others.

Matrimonial Law, Mediation and Marital Assets with Sheera Gefen

July 10th, 2023 by

In this episode of the Rising Leaders of New York podcast, we welcome guest Sheera Gefen, Supervising Attorney of the Matrimonial Unit of District Council 37’s Municipal Employees’ Legal Services, and Certified Divorce Mediator.

Tune in as Sheera talks about:

  • How she became a matrimonial lawyer
  • The effects of the pandemic on the custody process
  • The difference between litigation and mediation
  • Marital, intermingled and separate assets
  • Prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements

Sheera Gefen, Esq. graduated Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude, with a B.A. in psychology from Barnard College, Columbia University and earned her J.D. from Fordham Law School. She has been a practicing attorney for 14 years and has gained expertise exclusively in matrimonial law for most of her career, working for District Council 37’s Municipal Employees Legal Services. She has extensive experience representing clients in custody, child support, maintenance and equitable distribution matters as well as resolving disputes pertaining to the distribution of governmental and ERISA pensions.

For the past 10 years, Sheera has been an instructor of Business Law at Touro College. Her research on the psychological implications of procedural justice has been presented at various psychology and law conferences including the European Conference on Psychology and Law in Krakow, Poland, the annual meeting of the International Congress of Applied Psychology in San Francisco, CA, and the annual meeting of the American Psychological Society in Washington, D.C.

She often appears as a guest-lecturer at universities, speaking on topics related to the interplay between psychology and law. Sheera is also a Certified Divorce Mediator and a member of the Academy of Professional Family Mediators.

For more information:

District Council 37’s Municipal Employees’ Legal Services (212) 815-1140

For mediation and/or consultation: (917) 821-9465

About the Rising Leaders of New York Podcast

The Rising Leaders of New York Podcast is centered around conversations with today’s and future leaders of New York City, discussing the challenges and issues relevant to New Yorkers.

Subscribe to the Rising Leaders of New York Podcast Video Series on Youtube

Read the full transcript:

VOICEOVER ( 00:00:01): Welcome to Rising Leaders of New York with your host David S. Zwerin of Hill & Moin LLP. They present to you conversations with today’s and future leaders of New York City discussing the challenges and issues relevant to New Yorkers. You can find this show at and on Youtube, LinkedIn, Apple podcast, Spotify, Google podcast and more. Now, here are the hosts of Rising Leaders of New York.

DAVID ( 00:00:31): York. Hello, everybody. My name is David and I am the senior trial attorney at the law firm of Hill Moin LLP. We are a plaintiff’s personal injury law firm focusing on construction accident, litigation, as well as premises liability and other types of personal injury matters where our clients are seriously injured due to the fault of somebody else. Aside from that role, I get the great pleasure of hosting this podcast. You’re listening to Rising Leaders of New York, where each episode I get the privilege of speaking with really interesting guests at the forefront of talking about the issues that you as New Yorkers need to know about in this interesting ever changing world we’re living in today. And for today’s podcast, I’m very excited. We have a wonderful guest. We are joined today by Sheera Gefen. She is a outstanding matrimonial attorney and she also works for DC 37 1 of the top unions in New York City. She has a lot of great experience litigating and mediating matrimonial law and I think we’re gonna have a great discussion today. So, Sheera Gefen, thank you so much for joining us today on Rising Leaders of New York.

SHEERA ( 00:01:54): Thank you, David for having me.

DAVID ( 00:01:57): She, can you tell, tell me a little bit about your background. How did you end up being a lawyer? And how did you get into the area of matrimonial law?

SHEERA ( 00:02:07): Sure. So how I became a lawyer might be a little bit different from you know, my, my answer to how I became a matrimonial lawyer. Um You know, I was always interested in the interplay between law and psychology. Um It, it always fascinated me when I graduated law school. I had student loans as many students do and I was recruited to work for a large law firm in New York City. Um I enjoyed the experience to some degree, but I realized that it was also not for me. Um And I was at a wedding one day, a good friend of mine got married in, in Manhattan and I received a literal and figurative elevator pitch from a man who worked at District council 37 who said to me that there’s an opening in the matrimonial unit and that was approximately 20 years ago. And I, I said that’s interesting. I always thought of divorce law as a nice, um, you know, a nice area for just, you know, to sort of, um, it combines my interests in, in psychology and law because as you imagine people that are going through a divorce, do you know they deal with a significant emotional matters, you know, and so that interplay really appealed to me, I ended up applying for, you know, to the position, got the job fell, fell in love with my then mentors, supervisors 20 years later. Now I’m the supervising attorney of the matrimonial unit and that’s how I became a matrimonial attorney.

DAVID ( 00:03:41): Very interesting. You mentioned DC 37 or District council 37. What exactly is that? And and what do you do with the New Unit for them?

SHEERA ( 00:03:53): Yeah. So district council 37 is the largest public union in, in New York we represent, I wanna say about 100 and 25,000 municipal employees. It can arrange from range from school aides to a staff psychologist at Coney Island Hospital, various positions. You know, the people who work for the city department of, of Environmental protection workers that are essential, you know, for the, for the running of the city. And so through a prepaid legal service plan, they get this wonderful benefit. It’s under the auspices of the municipal employees legal services and there are various legal units that provide services to them. So there’s for example, a family law unit, there’s an immigration unit. Uh there’s a housing unit, consumer unit bankruptcy and, and so forth. I run with a co supervisor, Lisa, the two of us run the matrimonial unit comprised of about 15 attorneys, secretaries and legal assistants. And we represent municipal employees in a, in a divorce proceeding from A to Z. We also help with separation agreements and we represent them in post judgment work as well. So for example, if there’s an issue after a divorce that arises, they have us as attorneys.

DAVID ( 00:05:15): and your services are for people, for specifically the members of DC, 37 all the many municipal employees throughout the city that need family services or immigration or housing or in your case, matrimonial services. Correct.

SHEERA ( 00:05:30): Yes, that’s right. And a lot of our, a lot of our clients are, you know, I, I’m gonna say a significant amount are low income and they would not normally be able to afford the an attorney. And so it’s really a fabulous service having been in private practice. And, you know, I, I, you know, I have my foot in that door and in, in many, in, in, in my experiences in the past and I can tell you that it’s a fabulous service and, you know, sometimes we do deal with the clients that are of a higher net worth or that are in a matrimonial case, for example, that might be married to a spouse that have high net worth, incomes and so forth. And so there’s a, there’s a range, but I, in general, we, we, we pride ourselves at DC 37 for being able to provide a service that many people would normally not be able to afford.

DAVID ( 00:06:18): How have you seen that? Either your practice or the union has been affected since the pandemic. How have things changed for in your daily work?

SHEERA ( 00:06:29): You know, it’s interesting, I I also work as a, as a mediator on the side, you know, I I resolve disputes, amicably representing parties in a divorce. And so in both of those worlds, I’ve seen a significant effect that COVID-19 has played on divorces, you know, whether it’s an amicable resolution or a litigious one. It’s a very interesting question and I can kind of think about it in different spheres. So for example, on the custody, parenting side, you can imagine, I, I’ll, I’ll start off by saying that in New York state custody is a major issue when dealing with children under the age of 18, right? It has to be resolved in order for a judge to grant a judgment of divorce, there needs to be some sort of resolution with respect to custody. And the word custody in, in essence, comes with two main meanings, you know, the definition of that word. So you can look at custody from the standpoint of joint legal custody, which means that both parents have equal decision making power in a divorce, right? And then you can also look at it from a sole legal perspective in in a situation where a client has sole legal custody, it means that that person is the sole decision maker when it comes to the major decisions in a child, in a child or in a children’s life. So before the pandemic, the major decisions in a child or children’s life would be something along the lines of religious upbringing. You know, how, how does somebody want to religiously raise their child? Educational decisions? Are, is the is the kid gonna attend a public school or private school? Right? Is the child going to dorm at college or stay at home? Those kind of decisions, medical, you know, God forbid there’s surgery, what surgeon is going to be appointed or used to, to perform this major surgery? Extracurricular activities, like will my kid play football or or will, will she have ballet lessons and so on? Those were the major categories during the pandemic, those categories shifted. So generally prior to the pandemic, regardless of who had custody of the Children the day to day decisions would be determined by the individual parent who has the parenting time with the child, irrespective of whether that individual parent has joint or sole custody. And so whether a kid would eat Rice Krispies or Cheerios for breakfast, or whether a kid would go out to a baseball game, a Sunday or watch a movie at home would be a day to day decision by one parent during the pandemic that became a major decision. You know, there were stay at home orders, there were fears of, of this deadly virus. You know, there were, there were arguments constantly over the past number of years, over the past I guess three years now, we’re in this pandemic, you know, where is it? Ok to bring my kid to a base, an outdoor game or an indoor mall, you know. Um, and so those issues were really focused on and caused a lot of debate. It, it incurred a lot of legal expenses and, and mediation, assisted in, in avoiding some of those costs. Um, so in that sense that, you know, in that custody world, in that parenting time world, it, it really had a major effect.

DAVID ( 00:9:44): Do you find those issues are still at the forefront of a lot of marital disputes or have things shifted back to a little more of how practice used to be before the pandemic? How is it looking.

SHEERA ( 00:9:56): now? Well, it’s calmed down a bit, certainly. because the numbers have gone down. Right. But we still have situations where one parent might be very aggressive in protecting their Children. You know, the one parent might want the child to continue to wear a mask in certain situations where another parent says no way I’m done with this, you know. I have a recent case in mediation that I had to mediate not long ago where the nanny would walk into the door and not wash the hands, you know, mom didn’t care. Dad was furious and wanted the nanny to be fired, you know, so I am still seeing those, those situations come, you know, we’re not, we’re not exact the the virus is still out there. There’s still some fears and depending on where you fall on the spectrum and with regard to the, the, the strictness of your own practice it, I still see it but it’s less, it’s less.

DAVID ( 00:10:51): So, what are what are some of the issues that people should know about in this current world in terms of of pursuing mediation versus litigation? I think you mentioned both of those terms. I’m not sure all of our audience knows the difference. So if they’re too related or they’re interconnected, do you do both? Yeah,

SHEERA ( 00:11:15): so yeah, I can give you a, a brief def my own definition, you know, of, of, of the two terms. So when you, when you hear the word litigation to litigate is to bring a lawsuit. But the connotation certainly in, in my area of practice, when you, when someone uses that term, that person is referring usually to a fight, you know, a fight that’s brought in to a judge’s attention, you know, judicial intervention. So when someone files for divorce against his or her spouse, the request for judicial intervention in, in our, in our world, we, we call it the RJ. I leads to quote unquote litigation, it leads to court appearances and potential motion practice and hearings and perhaps even a trial. It’s not to say that when you litigate that you can’t settle out of court, that you can’t potentially enter into a settlement agreement that amicably resolves, you know, your issues without a judge’s flex of a muscle, right? But mediation is is the term that we use it. It mediation is actually a, a form of alternate dispute resolution. You know, some of your viewers might know of, know of it as ad R and it’s in essence what a mediator does like when I mediate, I take off my lawyer hat and I tell the parties that I’m mediating that. Although I have knowledge and expertise in, let’s say matrimonial law, I am going to now be neutral. I am going to try to work out an an amicable compromise, right? Where both of you are going to hopefully avoid litigation, avoid ha you know, fighting with your individual lawyers to try to resolve your matrimonial dispute and, and, and in a mediation setting, certainly in, in, in, in the matrimonial context, I often tell my clients that if both of you are a little bit unhappy, you know, with the end result, if, if you’re a little bit ticked off with me at the end, right. I probably then did a good job, you know, if one of you is crying in the corner and the other one is popping the champagne cork, jumping up and down that he, you know, that he got a great deal or that she got a fabulous settlement. I probably didn’t do such a great job. But if, if each of you feel like you compromised a bit that there was a give and a take that, that, that I’m, that makes me happy, you know. And, and the idea behind mediation is that you’re avoiding burdensome expenses, you know, you’re, you’re sitting around a table with someone who is neutral who is trying to make it resolved, you know, make your disputes resolved quickly as quickly as possible. Less formal and, you know, divorce is, is so emotionally burdensome to begin with it. It sort of, it, it, it, it lowers that, um, that burden to AAA much a much, you know, AAA, big degree.

DAVID ( 00:14:18): Am I correct that the cases in which you mediate are separate from the cases in which you litigate you, sometimes you’re wearing a mediator hat to resolve other people’s disputes and other times you’re litigating on behalf of clients.

SHEERA ( 00:14:35): Yeah. In fact, there’s an ethical issue that will arise if a mediator would take on a case as a litigator for the same for, for, you know, for the couple or for an individual that, that he or she’s mediating, right? So when I’m a mediator, they’re in essence waiving their right to use me in the future. If the, if the media, if the mediation were, was to fail, right, they would have to hire other individual attorneys to take on their divorce matter and, you know, and, and go at it, head to head in court if needed, right? Um You know, there might be some exceptions out there where some mediators might feel comfortable taking on a case of one of the spouses I’ve actually run into mediators that they’re few and far between, but some, some will be ok with it so long as they disclose the ethical conflict and prepare the right waivers, so to speak. Um, but I personally am not comfortable with that in my mediation practice. You know, they, my, my clients know that if they’re hiring me, I’m going to do my best to get them to sign a separation agreement or a settlement agreement that resolves their dispute in their family matrimonial context. But that if it doesn’t work, I can’t help them anymore.

DAVID ( 00:15:48): in cases where you’re not the mediator. Are you ever able to separately, both litigate and then separately recommend it to your client. Let’s put a hold on litigation and pursue mediation rather than go to trial.

SHEERA ( 00:16:01): Absolutely. Absolutely. And it happens a lot. I mean, I, I, you know, it happens enough where, you know, as an attorney, you’re representing the client, things get, things get very involved. Um, and then suddenly the client might say, you know what I want to put this on hold and let’s try to work this out with a mediator, you know, um at DC 37 I might, you know, my position at DC 37 and we don’t have AAA mediation unit, but I will say that over 90 I wanna say even, you know, I don’t have the actual statistic, but I want to say that over 90% of our cases at DC 37 will settle. And by definition, what that means is that the, the, the parties that are involved in the divorce will enter into a stipulation of settlement. The word stipulation means a binding contract that resolves all their divorce, you know, issues. Um And when you settle, you’re really acting as much as you can in an amicable way to resolve around a table, you know, the issues that the clients are arguing over and, and you’re, you’re taking the judge out of the picture. So it’s not mediation. Exactly. But it is a way of resolving a dispute without, you know, without leaning on a judge to make a decision.

DAVID ( 00:17:17): It’s interesting that, certainly in our practice mediation, I imagine runs very, very differently. But what we do is we’re looking for for cases and almost always the cases that are very serious and require litigation. But, a vast amount of our cases I would venture to say, do successfully resolve it. Mediation, oftentimes they won’t. and then we have to aggressively pursue going to trial. But certainly for us, the phrase that both sides should be mutually unhappy is a phrase that, I’ve heard many good mediators. I know and respect very well. Say so I know you must be doing something very correct here if you’re telling your clients that as well, I’d

SHEERA ( 00:18:00): hope, you know, I’d hope

DAVID ( 00:18:03): and I’m sure mediation is not our, I guess our mutual use of mediation is the only overlap that personal injury has with, with your word of matri of matrimonial law. Are there any aspects of matrimonial practice that involve personal injury or where you have to maybe be consider whether there’s a personal, if there’s a personal injury case, would it affect a matrimonial

SHEERA ( 00:18:28): case? Yeah, that’s a great question. Most definitely, you know, when we first meet a client at intake, we, we have them fill out a questionnaire. Our office at DC 37. That is and also as a mediator, I do the same. And more than the questionnaire, there’s something known as a statement and net worth that often get, will get exchanged in the, you know, during the divorce process and a statement and net worth will list all the assets and liabilities of each individual spouse, right? But they will also list pending lawsuits or contingent interests in the matrimonial case. And so person, a personal injury claim is considered a contingent interest if it’s pending, right? Um If it was already resolved, it could be potentially an, you know, an asset that would have to be listed on a net worth statement as part of discovery. You know, we call that as part of the financial disclosure aspect of, you know, the divorce procedure. So one of the big questions that divorce lawyers and mediators alike have to deal with is what portion if at all of a personal injury award is considered quote unquote marital um versus separate. So for me to just expand

DAVID ( 00:19:51): marital property,

SHEERA ( 00:19:53): good. Yeah. So for me to, that’s what I was gonna expand on. So marital, um marital assets refer to any asset that accrued during the marriage. And specifically, that means from the date of marriage until the time of commencement of a divorce action. So until the time a spouse files for divorce or from the date of marriage until the time that the spouse is entered into and executed a settlement agreement or a separation agreement. That window is considered the marital window for equitable distribution purposes. Meaning we look at that time frame in, in when we assess what assets if any need to be distributed in a divorce, separate property refers to any asset that accrued before the marriage or after the commencement of a divorce or after a commencement of a separation agreement or I’m sorry after the execution of a settlement agreement. And there are other examples of separate properties such as gifts, inheritances and so forth that I won’t go into right now. But personal injury, when you hear that, you know that that phrase immediately, a divorce lawyer is going to say, oh, personal injury, that’s separate property. Anything related to personal injury is generally separate property, I say generally because as you probably know best, anything that relates to pain and suffering, any o award monetary award that um is attributable to pain and suffering is actually separate property, meaning it is not subject to be divided in a divorce that stays separate, right? Um However, if a spouse has a loss of consortium claim, which you probably could explain better than I can, right? Um which relates to a personal injury matter or if a spouse, let’s say has a lost wages claim, you know, or you know, has gets money from a personal injury action as part of a settlement or as part of a judge’s determination. Do you know if if, if, if a client gets lost wages, that if those lost wages accrued during that window that I referred to earlier during the, you know, the date of the, from the time of the marriage to the time of a commencement of a divorce action or the execution of an agreement that’s subject to be divided in a divorce. Um And so we have to look closely and we often actually consult with people like you and your firm to determine what part of the injury award is, is gonna be designated as marital versus separate. Um There, there’s also something else interesting to mention, which is that, you know, people don’t always realize that even though a particular asset may be considered quote unquote separate and untouchable by the other spouse in a divorce, there’s always a chance that that asset can be what’s called intermingled or transmuted and then it can lose its separate property identity and become what’s called marital. So just as a quick example, if let’s say you have a couple and they’re not getting along and they’re living in their home and I don’t know, the wife gets into an accident and, hires your firm and gets a, a million dollar settlement. You know, you guys do a great job. I know a great, great work. I know that from my own clients that have used your services. So, if they get a million dollar settlement and they say, oh, this is my money, this is gonna, this is gonna be, and I’m, I’m contemplating a divorce and I want to keep this separate. If they use that million dollars to renovate their kitchen, you know, among other things, let’s hope that the kitchen doesn’t cost a million dollars to renovate. But if they take some of that money and they pour it into their marital house, you know, their marital residence that they purchased during the marriage, that could potentially be lost. I say potentially because it, it, there’s a lot of nuances that need to be analyzed and really determining whether or not it will maintain its its status. But when you intermingle thing, you know, personal injury awards into a joint asset or into a marital asset, like if you take that million dollars and you put it into a joint bank account that’s giving that, that’s basically showing, demonstrating that you might have intention that that award is really to be shared by both you and your spouse. And so there, there, I, I think that if you ever had a client come to your office and, and they were he or she was contemplating a divorce, they might wanna, that person might want to consult with a divorce attorney to make sure to protect that asset so that it would be untouched in a divorce.

DAVID ( 00:24:32): That’s, it’s very, very interesting. And certainly most of our claims do have multiple of those types of claims that you mentioned. I was, I was very much wondering if you were gonna mention loss of consortium that immediately as you were describing that if it’s a separate property, I figured that that has to be a marital property losses consortium claim. But the interesting thing is for most plaintiffs, if, if you take a verdict, um you win your case on liability on damages, there could very well then be a breakdown that is going to specify exactly where each amount of the money is going to, whether it’s the loss of consortium claim for the spouse, the lost wages and then what for the pain and future suffering or maybe the future medical cost? Um and it could be very easy to break it all down, but it’s very interesting to also consider that even if a property is separate, there could be a way to mess that up afterwards. So yeah, sounds like it would be very well off to, to speak with you if they have a, a personal injury case and are either contemplating or maybe finishing up a, a divorce at the same time.

SHEERA ( 00:25:43): Yeah, I mean, I I can also mention that um you know, I’ve done prenuptial agreements as well as post nuptial agreements. So prenuptial before the marriage and postnuptial after people have gotten married, um both in a mediation setting and, and just as a consultant attorney that was hired to, to help out on, on a case and, those agreements have a lot of value to individuals who want to protect their assets. And in particular, I think it’s quite common when someone is about to, let’s say, you know, someone is, let’s say someone is due to get an inheritance. Unfortunately, you know, someone is soon going to pass and, and, and a person knows that they’re, they’re gonna, they’re gonna get a, a big chunk of change or in a personal injury situation where someone knows that they’re going to get a significant award and they want to protect it. One way of ensuring to do so is to hire an attorney who specializes in, in divorce and, and family law, to draft a postnuptial agreement if they were married, for example, to basically say that even if we intermingle this asset, even if I deposit a million dollars into my joint account, I, that, that, that value is still going to be protected. So that’s a way to also, you know, sort of think about protecting clients in those situations.

DAVID ( 00:27:9): That’s very interesting. And I imagine that would be a good opener, maybe potentially for, for spouses to consider pursuing such an arrangement, which I imagine a postnuptial agreement perhaps sometimes more often than not, is something one spouse is more interested in than the other. Because if they could work it all out, why did they do a prenuptial agreement?

SHEERA ( 00:27:32): Right. You know, I it’s funny, I have mixed feelings from a personal standpoint, you know, versus a professional standpoint about prenups and post ups, you know, as a professional, you know, who practices this in this area. I will always say that a prenup and a post up is, it could be the way to go from a personal standpoint. It’s difficult to raise that when you’re in a romantic relationship with someone that you trust. Right. I mean, I, I personally don’t have a prenuptial, excuse me. I personally don’t have a prenuptial agreement, you know. Um, because I, I believe in, in love and trust, you know, very often it’s the shoemaker, you know, whose kids don’t have the shoes or whatever that expression is, you know, the lawyer might be shooting herself in the foot, but I’m blessed with a happy marriage and I trust my husband and God forbid if it did end up in divorce. And, you know, iii I can’t imagine us wanting to, you know, kick the other to the curb. Right. Um, but these, these postnuptial and prenuptial agreements by definition, an agreement is a voluntary contract and so you need both parties to voluntarily want to do it and, and it’s not an easy thing to, to, to bring up, you know, certainly, if, if, if, if you’re happily married, it’s not easy and then if you’re not happily married, it’s also not easy, you know. So it’s a challenge it’s a challenge to even sometimes get tho those agreements drafted or signed. It’s not for everybody.

DAVID ( 00:28:56): Very interesting. I, I have so many more questions, about that, about that topic and, I imagine it would be very interesting, I guess hearing how, clients often get to your office to pursue these ups and post up agreements. But I’m afraid we’re about to hit all the time we have for today. Uh, so she, is there any way that any number or, contact information you would like to get out if people want to, get in contact with you or District Council 37?

SHEERA ( 00:29:26): Sure. I mean, I, I can give you, two numbers. One is, if you happen to be a municipal employee who’s eligible for, the, benefit, at DC 37 the number to call is (212) 815-1140. If you’re interested in mediation or consultation, you can call (917) 821-9465.

DAVID ( 00:29:53): Very, very good. Sheera Gefen. It was such a great pleasure having you on. Thank you so much for coming in and telling us, about what you do and many, many interesting developments I learned a lot today, about, the interplay of personal injury and marital law. We, we’re all just practicing the law every day and getting a little better. So this was really, really, interesting and illuminating for me. So thank you so much for, for joining me and talking to our guest today.

SHEERA ( 00:30:21): It’s my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me. David.

DAVID ( 00:30:23): Thank you so much, everybody for joining me for another episode of Rising leaders of New York. Once again, my name is David Zwerin, the senior trial attorney at Hill Moin, plaintiffs personal injury firm focusing on construction accidents and premises liability cases. Uh, if you have a, a case where you’re seriously injured in a construction accident or on premises, we hope to hear from you and, if you happen to be involved in a matrimonial, you should certainly give a call too until then. My name is David Zwerin and I hope you join us for another episode of Rising Leaders of New York. Take care everybody.

VOICEOVER ( 00:31:05): You’ve been listening to rising leaders of New York hosted by David Zwerin of Hill & Moin LLP. You can catch prior episodes at and on Youtube, LinkedIn, Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and more. Thank you for your positive reviews, comments and sharing this show with others.

Navigating the Complexities of US Immigration with Neil A. Weinrib

July 10th, 2023 by

In this episode of the Rising Leaders of New York podcast, we welcome guest Neil A. Weinrib, Managing Director at Neil A. Weinrib & Associates, Immigration and General Practice.

Tune in as Neil talks about:

  • navigating the complex US immigration system
  • the desirability of the US as a destination for Foreign Nationals
  • changes in immigration policy under the Trump and Biden Administrations
  • the range of immigration cases his firm handles
  • social services and immigration reform

After establishing himself as an immigration expert while working for a large immigration and general practice firm, Neil decided to start his own immigration practice in 1980, which has significantly expanded over the years. Neil A. Weinrib & Associates (NawLaw) is a premier boutique law firm consisting of more than 25 attorneys, legal assistants, and support staff – and is still growing. Neil is the principal and managing attorney of NawLaw and is heavily involved in all aspects of the firm. He is relentlessly dedicated to the firm’s clients and assisting them in achieving their U.S. immigration goals.

Neil frequently lectures on immigration topics for organizations around the country and has been named a “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyer Magazine based on peer recommendations. He has lectured on immigration to organizations such as SCORE NY (U.S. Small Business Administration), community groups, and educational institutions including the Manhattan School of Music, NY Film Academy, and the NYU School of Continuing Education. He has also conducted continuing legal education seminars, both locally and nationally. Neil has also lectured to human resources executives at various companies as well as the French Embassy in Washington, D.C. Neil has appeared on national radio and webinars.

Learn more about Neil A. Wienrib:

Visit his website:

Connect with Neil on LinkedIn:



About the Rising Leaders of New York Podcast

The Rising Leaders of New York Podcast is centered around conversations with today’s and future leaders of New York City, discussing the challenges and issues relevant to New Yorkers.

Subscribe to the Rising Leaders of New York Podcast Video Series on Youtube

Read the full transcript:

VOICEOVER ( 00:00:01): Welcome to Rising Leaders of New York with your host David S. Zwerin of Hill & Moin LLP. They present to you conversations with today’s and future leaders of New York City discussing the challenges and issues relevant to New Yorkers. You can find this show at and on Youtube, LinkedIn, Apple podcast, Spotify, Google podcast and more. Now, here are the hosts of Rising Leaders of New York.

DAVID ( 00:00:39): York. Hello, everybody. My name is David S. Zwerin and I’m the senior trial attorney at Hill and Moines L LP. We are a plaintiff’s personal injury law firm focusing specifically on premises liability and construction acts and cases for seriously injured victims. But I also get the pleasure of hosting this podcast which is rising leaders of New York where every episode I get to talk to important people on the cutting edge that you and New Yorkers need to know about in the world of law and other topics. And this week we have an amazing guest, Neil Weinrib of the losses of Neil Weinrib and Associates. Neil is a very experienced immigration attorney and immigration is an area that tends to be very relevant and highly connected to plaintiffs personal injury law firm and has spent his career selfishly advocating for the rights of foreign nationals and people here with various immigration concerns. Uh going through a, a, a system that’s very tricky and hard to navigate. I’m sure now more than ever and what’s happened over the last 56 years, look forward to having a great conversation with Neil today. So Neil, welcome to the show.

NEIL ( 00:01:58): Thank you, David. Happy to be here/

DAVID ( 00:02:02): Neil. Can you tell everybody a little bit about yourself? How did you end up becoming an immigration lawyer and starting your firm?

NEIL ( 00:02:9): Sure, great question. It all started many years ago when I was in college with a trip to Israel as a, a foreign study program. And I realized that there was so much going on outside of, of Pennsylvania and the US especially being in Israel in the Middle East back in the seventies. It was a very dynamic time and, but it gave me the exposure to, to meet people of various cultures and backgrounds. And I was, I found it fascinating and I said, you know, I like this a lot. I really want to do something that’s global and international. And so when I came back to school at Penn State University, I was like, this is so insular. I’ve, I’ve got to arrange to eventually get out of here and do something more worldly. I then, took a master’s in International Law and International Affairs at the Fletcher School of Tufts University. The goal at that time I was gonna get a phd and become a college professor. And, at that time, the teaching market started getting very crowded. Um, and then I said, well, not a great market for phd S. What should I do? I said, well, maybe I’ll go to law school and my father is a lawyer. Why not? You know? So I, from there, I went on to law school, which I didn’t really love. And I was like, what am I doing here? It was only after I got out of law school and started practicing law that I, I said this isn’t bad and, but I really want to get into an international practice. So I joined a firm after a year of, of doing general practice, I joined a firm that was doing immigration and, and, and various practice areas and, and that’s when I found my calling. I said, well, now I’m working with foreign individuals at that. At the time. I, I got out of law school. There were very few opportunities for lawyers going into international law. There were only a handful of firms that were involved in international law and most of their graduates were coming out of Harvard and Yale at that time. And so consequently, immigration law was very appealing to me. I realized and learned that I was helping foreign nationals achieve the American dream even back in the eighties.

DAVID ( 00:04:29): What was it about international law that you found so appealing? You know,

NEIL ( 00:04:32): Well, basically, just the, the fact of, of, of the entire global picture dealing with, with foreign law systems versus the American legal system you know, in things that were affecting foreign nationals in various countries. And how the US legal system was derived from the British system and, and you know, issues dealing with war crimes and things like that. It’s just very interesting to me. But then on the immigration side, you know, I got to meet people who had legitimate issues at that time. Iran was going through a revolution. Jews were leaving or trying to leave the former Soviet Union, it was a very tumultuous time for us. Immigration back in the eighties, it was a huge influx of people from Iran, Russia and many other countries, Romania, the eastern former eastern bloc countries, people were trying to get to the US from Romania, Hungary Poland, et cetera. And not to mention China because then China started going through their issue, Tiananmen Square much later in 1989. So the eighties were a very tumultuous time in US immigration. And so I, I was entering a field that was just going through a lot of radical changes and and the foreign nationals were desperate to be in the US. America was going through you know, a growth period even though there was some signs of recession. But as bad as I’ve often said, as bad as bad it is as it is around the world, it’s much better in the US. America is always the land of opportunity and America has been a magnet even today. It’s the same, the same thing. Despite everything we read in the newspaper and all the tumult and issues, America is still an attractive place for foreign nationals from everywhere. It continues to be a magnet.

DAVID ( 00:06:29): Have you seen the immigration system evolve over the last few years, particularly since since 26 16 or the beginning of 2017, you know

NEIL ( 00:06:39): it’s been somewhat slow to evolve. Um because in many aspects, our immigration quota system was formed in 1976 1977. So the numerical allocations that allow foreign nationals in have been in place for 40 years, which is obviously outdated. That’s why there are restrictions on people coming in, particularly from India and China. They wait much longer time. For example, if a US citizen applies for a brother or sister, they’re gonna wait 14 years to come into the US. Unmarried Children are gonna wait 8 to 10 years because the system is is somewhat antiquated. I often say it’s like driving an old car. It, it works but it moves very slowly and that’s our American immigration system, it’s due for Nova. So then you throw into the mix the political situation going on in Central America including Venezuela and various of Guatemala, various other countries, Brazil even now. Haiti, I mean, there’s so much unrest going on in the world. Ukraine, of course. Uh and, and many other countries that America is still a magnet despite all of the difficulties to get in. So despite everything that goes on here, it’s still a much better place and a land of opportunity for foreign nationals, especially in European countries where growth is, is limited and, and in Asia too, because of established institutions and barriers, America still offers tremendous opportunity for foreign nationals. It really does, it’s no different than it was before.

DAVID ( 00:08:17): What are, what are, what are all the things you do for foreign nationals like for those who aren’t terribly familiar with immigration law, what are some of the issues you handle what a client come to you for? How do you help them?

NEIL ( 00:08:28): Great question. But we handle the entire spectrum of us, immigration including asylum for people from Ukraine, Russia, China. Um and, and, and other countries that are people who are facing persecution, Central America, et cetera. Plus we handle people who are marrying American citizens, relative petitions, people petitioning for spouses, Children, et cetera, parents. We also handle employment related visas, people who are trying to come to the US to live and work here. And that would include the entire spectrum from people coming as temporary workers that were seasonal workers work in hotels and farms to people who are principal dancers for the New York City Ballet. We handle the entire spectrum of extraordinary ability, professionals, dancers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, scientists, writers, et cetera, musicians. So we our firm is, is big enough, we have the bandwidth to handle the entire spectrum of us. Immigration and it’s the demand is in every sector from what we see

DAVID ( 00:9:42): now. And we talked a little bit about this before. The podcast. Immigration is something that comes up a lot in personal injury. You know, not everybody who gets injured in a personal injury action is, is a citizen or is here with documentation. What are some of the issues like you run into? Do you ever like run into people who are foreign nationals? They’re here, they lack some degree of documentation and they have concerns about. Should I bring a a personal injury suit? And what would that mean for my immigration status? Sure.

NEIL ( 00:10:18): You know, many foreign nationals especially if they’re from, if their English is not great or if their status is uncertain, maybe may be severely injured but hesitant to bring an action because they don’t know how it will play out. They have no definitive immigration status. I mean, we have people who are in the US for many years without status. So sometimes they can be injured in, in somewhat afraid or reticent to bring an action. What they, what they often learn is that they are eligible for Medicaid in New York. New York has very liberal Medicaid requirements so they shouldn’t be afraid to get necessary emergent emergency medical treatment. And that’s why New York, for example, such a magnet to foreign nationals, including New Jersey and the New England States. Whereas other states, especially down south are much stingier in terms of Medicaid requirements, much shortened time periods to, to receive assistance. But foreign nationals I, I believe are increasingly recognizing that their rights are expanding. And so we’re seeing less I would say reticence. And, but still they, many of them are involved in construction accidents, car accidents, pedestrian, sidewalk, you name it, medical malpractice, et cetera. I mean, many of them are victimized. And when they often contact us with various types of claims, we, we can send them to the right expert like Helen Moy, if our clients are injured, we, we know where to send them to specialists. They’ll often ask me, can I recommend a specialist in a particular area such as personal injury? And so we’re, we’re often the, the starting point for a lot of foreign nationals who don’t know where to go, go or where to turn

DAVID ( 00:12:10): And I’m sure you counsel your clients about this too. I imagine most of them are scared. Like you said, if you, if you go to the hospital, if, if they, if you go to Coney Island Hospital, are they going to be asking a client? What’s your immigration status here? And if they say undocumented or they gonna be calling ins?

NEIL ( 00:12:26): Unfortunately not. We’ve never seen that happen. New York has been a very safe venue for foreign nationals there. I’ve never heard of anything like that happening. Fortunately,

DAVID ( 00:12:37): nor have I a bit of a rhetorical question.

NEIL ( 00:12:39): Well, you know, it’s, but it’s a, it’s a legit question because for example, it was a time when, if people were arrested by the, by the police, let’s say in various locales including NASA Suffolk County, Westchester Yonkers, the police might report them to immigration, customs enforcement or ice. And so people often got into trouble because of even minor criminal incidents involving perhaps DW I driving while intoxicated assault battery, things like that. And, and therefore people were often found themselves in, in a very difficult situation. But we’re seeing now the police authorities are not actively cooperating with immigration and customs enforcement. So it’s very rare that that happens now, but there was a time when it was a real, a real threat New York. And that has been very welcome to foreign nationals as we know from people coming from the southern border. New York City is hosting a huge number of foreign nationals which is training social services at this point and they’re entitled to many social services including food stamps and various forms of, of, of financial assistance.

DAVID ( 00:13:55): A lot of, a lot of things, a concern I seem to hear from immigrants is that aside from that concern about, oh, can I get medical treatment? Who will pay for it? And will I get in trouble doing it? I’m often hearing the concerns about, oh, the, the, the defense attorney report me will be the insurance carrier reported. So certainly in, in my venue, I know people are always concerned and those concerns are not found. That’s just simply not how personal injury cases go. Just because somebody lacks documentation doesn’t mean they’re not, they don’t have rights the state of New York and they should bring a claim and they shouldn’t be afraid of that. An adversary is going to retribute just because they lack papers. Well,

NEIL ( 00:14:43): definitely. Well, let me say this. There’s been a big sea change since the Trump administration where any, anybody who fell out of status or had no legal status was subject to deportation or removal. Biden came in and they, they changed that policy. So now immigration is only chasing after people who commit serious criminal actions, criminal, you know, acts basically. So in other words, the foreign nationals should be less afraid now than ever to, report an accident or an injury or something like that. Whereas in the past, they might have been fearful of being reported to immigration, customs enforcement or ice. Now, they don’t really have to worry because, immigration enforcement is now prioritizing criminals, people committing serious criminal acts versus really, minor acts. So it’s a much better environment now for foreign nationals, they can, they can pretty much rest assured that they’re not in danger.

DAVID ( 00:15:40): That that’s certainly good to hear from, from my perspective, from what I do, I’m curious, in, in your, practice, where do you go to, to, to litigate or, or handle these immigration matters and how is the court system functioning to process what I’m sure must be just an immense amount of immigration matters in the past 56 years.

NEIL ( 00:16:04): Yeah. Definitely, people who are, let’s say stopped at the border are often, referred for, deportation removal proceedings. They may be issued notices to appear without date and they’re required to keep in touch with immigration as to their address for future hearings. But what’s happened is that the entire system is so overloaded and clogged that people are waiting years to be called for their hearings. Trump, the Trump administration adopted. Interestingly a policy whereby they were prioritizing people who were newly arrested, they were getting priority over people who were waiting years to have their asylum claim heard. Whereas new arrivals were put on an accelerated calendar, that’s now changed. And again, because of the change in administrations, the Biden administration has been much more pro immigrant to a degree, of course, at the southern border. They’re trying to toughen up and pass very restrictive rules and regulations to appease the American public because of the huge influx of foreign nationals. Since COVID, the combination of COVID and political events occurring in Central America that were tumultuous. So it’s it’s a perfect storm that’s created and generated so much us immigration including Ukraine, Russia, a lot of we have Russian nationals coming in through Mexican border because they’re desperate to get out of Russia for fear of being forced into military service, for example. So we’re seeing a huge stream coming especially from the southern border, some coming from the northern border, from Canada, but predominantly from the southern border.

DAVID ( 00:17:55): And I guess it, it’s very based on the situation of the person seeking asylum or citizen or a or a work visa, whatever it is. But it sounds like the system is still very backlogged. So I wonder what do you think can be done to change it? People, obviously, politicians have been talking about immigration reform for decades. Do you think that’s the thing that’s actually ever going to happen? We would make it

NEIL ( 00:18:17): happen. Sure. There was the, I I would say in the last 10 years, we’re so the there were opportunities for, for reform during the Bush administration, for example, he was a proponent for immigration reform and then it got knocked down at the very, very end. Although the president, former president was very involved in immigration reform, the Obama administration was actually somewhat anti immigration. They would, they actually deported more people than Trump did in the first few years of the Obama administration. Biden saw an election proposing immigration reform and positive change and that quickly I would say dampened because of the what happened during COVID with the huge influx of people coming in from Central America and Mexico, et cetera. And and, and so what things have really changed? We don’t have the border wall but the enforcement activities is still very strong, but people are still trying to come to the US. The US is still a major magnet for foreign nationals.

DAVID ( 00:19:27): Do you think anything is going to be changing in the years ahead? And so what’s going to lead to actual immigration reform after, you know, so many administrations that say they will and doesn’t have I

NEIL ( 00:19:38): a great question. I don’t see anything happening in the next two years during the final years of the Biden administration. I think it would take a democratic overhaul of both houses to result in any immigration reform. It’s unfortunate that during Obama’s first two years, he had a democratic majority in the Senate and the House, but no immigration reform went through. It was a unique window and opportunity.

DAVID ( 00:20:06): Why was it? Why didn’t they pass it in the 09 and oh and 10. What’s that? Why do, why do you think it stalled out in 2009 and 2010?

NEIL ( 00:20:14): We, I really don’t know. It just didn’t have any gravitational pull for some reason. I think, you know why II, I guess the economy banking crisis was like month and center. I think that’s why in, in 2008 9, we were dealing with financial issues that were, you know, outranking immigration. That’s probably why it didn’t happen. So now we have to wait and see what happens in the next next presidential election and to see if democrats retake the house, I think if, if that is the case, that would be a prime opportunity for reform and change.

DAVID ( 00:20:55): Very interesting. Well, thank you so much for joining me here today, Neil. I thought this was amazing and lightening conversation. I certainly learned a lot and help all our listeners did too for the, for our listeners, if they want to get in touch with you, Neil. How might they do? So?

NEIL ( 00:21:13): Definitely, they can give us a call. Our number is (212) 964-9282. And our email is info at nawlaw dot com. We’re happy to, to meet people. We’re very proud of the fact that we, we provide honest and successful immigration services. There’s a lot of fraud that goes on in, in our immigration, immigration legal community. A lot of our clients or people who come to us have experienced problems with, with lawyers who take their money and run. We have a track, we don’t advertise generally. We have a track record based on client referral, lo lawyer referral and we have a, a large influx of people who know that they can depend on us for honest and effective immigration services and we span the entire spectrum. Thank you for everything. Let me add, we have a terrific staff of, of very experienced lawyers and paralegals who are Multilingual including Spanish Russian and various other languages.

DAVID ( 00:22:20): No, absolutely, Neil. I know Neil to be a tremendous immigration attorney. Our office knows him well and thank you for everything you do for for foreign nationals who who need you to protect their rights and and for educating us as well as our clients on the tricky immigration issues they may face while they got personal injury matters. You provide an amazing service and it’s been great talking to you today.

NEIL ( 00:22:44): Thank you, David. I should also add that. We, we successfully took a case to the US Supreme Court and won one of the few immigration law firms that have had that accomplishment. You know, we’re very proud of that.

DAVID ( 00:22:56): They should be. Well, thank you so much for joining me, Neil. My name is David. And again, I’m the senior trial here at Hill and Moines L LP. Our focus is on serious premises, liability and construction accident cases. You can reach us at (212) 668-6000. Otherwise, I hope you reach us by tuning in to this episode and all the others posted and I look forward to speaking to you at the next episode and I’ll be joined by another great guest who is a rising leader of New York. Thank you everybody.

VOICEOVER ( 00:23:31): You’ve been listening to rising leaders of New York hosted by David Zwerin of Hill & Moin LLP. You can catch prior episodes at and on Youtube, LinkedIn, Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and more. Thank you for your positive reviews, comments and sharing this show with others.

Unions and Employee Organizing with Chris Baluzy

July 7th, 2023 by

In this episode of the Rising Leaders of New York podcast, we welcome guest Chris Baluzy, a Partner at Cary Kane, practicing in the areas of Labor, Employment, and Employee Benefits Law.

Tune in to this episode as Chris shares insights into:

  • Unions, what they are and how they work
  • What he does to help unions in his role
  • How arbitration works in the labor field
  • Big companies setting up unions
  • Common issues executives need to know about unions
  • Benefit of companies to have a union

Christopher S. Baluzy is a Partner at Cary Kane, practicing in the areas of Labor, Employment, and Employee Benefits Law. On behalf of labor unions he arbitrates disputes, negotiates collective bargaining agreements and litigates in New York and federal courts. Mr. Baluzy represents Taft-Hartley employee benefit funds in collection work to ensure that employers properly make contributions to the funds.

Mr. Baluzy received a B.A. in Philosophy from the College of Arts & Science at New York University in 2006. He received a J.D. from the City University of New York School of Law in 2011 where he was Executive Articles Editor for the City University of New York Law Review.

Before joining the firm, Mr. Baluzy was an associate at the labor law firm of Pitta & Giblin as a law clerk at the labor law firm of O’Dwyer & Bernstien.

Mr. Baluzy is a member of the Bar of the State of New York. He is also a member of the New York County Lawyers Association as well as the Lawyer Alumni Mentoring Program at the College of Arts & Science, New York University.

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VOICEOVER ( 00:00:01): Welcome to Rising Leaders of New York with your host David S. Zwerin of Hill & Moin LLP. They present to you conversations with today’s and future leaders of New York City discussing the challenges and issues relevant to New Yorkers. You can find this show at and on Youtube, LinkedIn, Apple podcast, Spotify, Google podcast and more. Now, here are the hosts of Rising Leaders of New York.

DAVID ( 00:00:38): Hello everybody. Thank you for joining me. David Zwerin here on this episode of Rising Leaders of New York. Um This is my opportunity where every episode I get to speak with people who are on the cutting edge of important issues, often legal that New Yorkers need to know about. And today I have a very exciting guest um joined by my old friend Christopher Baluzy. He is a partner at the law firm of Cary Kane. They practice in the areas of labor, employment, employment benefit unions on behalf of labor unions. He arbitrates disputes, he negotiates collective bargaining agreement and is a litigator in the state and federal courts of New York. Chris is a tremendously knowledgeable person in dealing with fighting for the rights of employees and members of unions and the extremely knowledgeable attorney. And I look forward to having a great conversation with him today. So Christopher Baluzy, thank you so much for joining me today.

CHRIS ( 00:01:45): Thanks so much, Dave. Very happy to be here. Thank you so much for those kind words.

DAVID ( 00:01:50): No problem. So you and II, I guess, can you and I have known each other for a little while but, , um, tell the, tell the people a little bit about yourself. Uh, how did you end up being a lawyer? How did you end up getting into, this particular area of law?

CHRIS ( 00:02:07): Yeah. So, um, my journey, first of all to, I guess law school start there, um, started, in college, um, kind of a cliche, I thought, ok, I’ll, I wanted, I really wanted to be a, a physician or a doctor. Uh, but I hated the, the lab portion of the, curriculum, um, for that. So, um, I switched to, um, wanting to do a different, a different, profession that was a law, you know, like I said, it’s cliche doctor or lawyer. Um, and, um, so I studied, in college, liberal arts, um, and then worked, at a big law firm as a paralegal, in, in litigation. Um, and those hours were very long, even as a paralegal because we were there as long as the attorneys were, were in the building basically. Um, and I said to myself, I’m going to be, you know, working this much and, and like, in an office like this for so long, I want to make sure I do something that I really enjoy doing. So it’s not so painful. Um, and at that time I thought it was going to be civil rights, um, anti discrimination law. And I went to, cuny law school, at that time when it was in Flushing, um, enrolled there, studied uh discrimination, um, title seven, anti discrimination, I should say, uh civil rights uh section 1983 cases really enjoyed it. Um And when I graduated, um I wanted to stay on the side of, of course, helping people. Uh that was the main motivation. Um, and I started working for a Union side law firm, uh called o’dwyer Bernstein on a uh project on a litigation that they were working on. They’re representing a, an airline union. Um, and, um, but I knew that that litigation may end and they wouldn’t need me. So, it did eventually end. And, um, I then went to work for another Union side law firm for a couple of years, um, and practiced in the, um, you know, representing unions, but also employee benefit funds for collections of monies that were owed to the, those funds which wasn’t very fun. Um, the union stuff that was, was much more interesting. Um, and, um, then I came here to Cary Kane. Um, and I’ve been here since January of 2015. Uh, so, gosh, eight years. Yeah. And, yeah, go ahead.

DAVID ( 00:05:04): So, Chris, you mentioned, you’ve been doing union side work for a little while, for, for those people who might not have a lot of experience dealing with, union litigation or uh negotiations or maybe even don’t have so much, have a lot of familiar with what a union is. Uh, give us a little idea like what exactly is a union? What does it look like? How is it formed? And uh why do, why do they need lawyers?

CHRIS ( 00:05:32): Sure. Exactly. Thank you. So, um, what is a union, a union um, represents workers um with respect to the wages, hours, working conditions of the employees of a, of an employer. Um, that is at its core, what a union does, a union doesn’t need to be, already preexisting to, to represent workers, the workers can form their own union. And the law defines that, not so strictly so that a group of workers uh can do that um in the nat under the National Labor Relations Act. Um So it’s a very powerful tool to um get better wages, benefits, working conditions. And so, like I said, that’s what the union does. It represents the employees, the union negotiates contracts on behalf of the employees with, of course, with the input of the workers, it’s not just the union doing it on its own. Uh It processes grievances, you know, resolves disputes. Uh Make sure, makes, ensures that there’s sound labor relations at the plant or at the facility, the store, whatever it is. Um And sometimes it’ll have to arbitrate disputes, come to a final and binding determination. Um But that’s arbitration. It’s not core litigation. Uh But still, it’s kind of like that, you know, it’s a, it’s a uh a formal process. Um And the union also can provide benefits to the workers through benefit funds that it um has input on uh health insurance pension. Um Sometimes legal funds where the union will help pay for legal services for workers, like for real estate or wills that sort of thing. So the union, the core issue, the core, the core, the essence of it being is to help the workers. Um and, and that’s its goal and um it’s very, uh it’s a very noble purpose.

DAVID ( 00:07:35): And what exactly, what types of uh of services does your firm offer? You mentioned like a lot of things union needs. What exactly does your firm do and what do you specialize in?

CHRIS ( 00:07:44): Right. So the union, so what we do is we represent unions as the institution. And so let’s start there. So we represent the union in contract negotiations to advise on, you know, what, what they should propose um what language, uh how language should read because after all, it is a contract that’s gonna to be read by lawyers. So we wanna make sure the language is, uh looks right. Um We help with, you know, stra strategizing about certain things, whether it’s union, elections, union, um grievances. Um We help the union process, election petitions with the NLRB.

DAVID ( 00:08:21): So if they want what, the NLRB, by the way, I’m familiar with, but many people probably don’t know what that is.

CHRIS ( 00:08:27): That’s fine. Yes. Uh The, the NLRB, uh it’s a federal government agency. Uh It stands for National Labor Relations Board and they have jurisdiction over uh primarily by over unions and employers um with respect to um all forms of conservative activity um strikes, elections um or elections to get rid of unions. Uh It runs the gamut. Um And so we represent unions uh with that agency uh and also for unfair labor practice practices. So, if an employer violates the National Labor Relations Act, uh we file that unfair labor practice charge and we also have sometimes defend a union uh in response to an unfair labor practice charge filed by a worker, usually claiming that the union didn’t fairly represent that worker. Um So that is, that’s, that’s so somewhat of a big portion of what we do. And we also represent the affiliated benefit fund. So we represent, uh we counsel to the trustees on those funds to make sure that the funds are, you know, doing what it should be doing um in, in administering benefits, giving out uh benefits, paying benefits, um collecting monies that are due to the fund. Um And that’s another part and we also sometimes represent individuals. So not just unions, we represent individuals for uh wage an hour cases or severance agreement negotiations. Um And let’s see, sometimes discrimination cases. Um So, so that’s another part of what we do, but a vast majority is representing unions and their funds. Uh And, and let me just say one more thing, Dan, I’m sorry, we only represent unions, we don’t represent management. Um We are entirely worker focused and union focused, right?

DAVID ( 00:10:28): So that was kind of getting to my original uh question when you talk about being a union side of lawyer on the other side, that management or the employer side of lawyers, right? And that, and that’s who you usually are if not adversarial within, trying to ensure that your sides uh rights are fairly represented in any disagreement or litigation or negotiation with management.

CHRIS ( 00:10:52): That’s right. And what makes what we do somewhat unique, you know, compared to uh a real, I guess litigation uh attorney like you are, is this the, this our representation is in the context of a relationship between our, the clients, between the union and the employer. And so what that means is we are going to see each other again, I, is the union side attorney. I’m gonna see that management side attorney again and it doesn’t make sense, you know, sometimes you got to, but it usually doesn’t make sense to try and kill each other, you know, on a, on a, on a specific issue because like I said, I’m gonna see this guy or this woman, you know, in the other, another week from now on a different matter. Um, and it’s a small world. So, um, it, it, it’s not the sort of situation where, like I said, you’re trying to kill each other where like on a,  a slip and fall case or, or tort case, um, you’re trying to, you know, kill each other and, get the best for your client, of course, but you might not see, you know, you’re not gonna see that attorney, you know, ever again and neither will your clients. That’s the other thing. Um, our clients are, are the respective management of the employer and the union representatives at the union. And so they’re constantly talking to each other, um, on various issues, you know, whatever it is and it’s always, and it’s gonna be about the, the terms and conditions of employment of the employees and administering a contract. So they’re always, you know, in constant contact. Um, so, um, it really requires a deft uh human touch, I think, to be,  a union side attorney and an employer side too.

DAVID ( 00:12:50): No, that’s a, you bring up a very interesting point and thank you for, I guess you, you referenced me what we, what we do here doing, the personal injury litigation. I don’t know that I would agree that I’m never going to see my adversaries again though. I think a lot of the same adversaries for a long time. Um, but whenever you see them, and they’re often, you often and basically almost always uh attorneys that work for insurance carriers. So you’ll always see them in a different capacity on behalf of a different brand new client with a completely different accident. Exactly. Right. But we have ongoing often in relationships. Sometimes we get a brand new attorney but it is a very different thing. I imagine when it’s not always litigation here, this is what we do. We take cases and we aggressively litigate to get the absolute best possible result we can for every individual client with their unique accident. And while I may see that attorney again, and we always want to strike that balance of being professional while fighting extremely hard and getting great results for our client, we’re never going to have that exact same situation and my client isn’t going to need to do ongoing business with an attorney for nationwide or, or, or, or any insurance company you might add. So I imagine that is interesting. You have to probably strike a very interesting balance when you’re not only litigating against the same pace that face has been doing transactional work over the years with

CHRIS ( 00:14:23): them. Yes. Exactly. Yeah, you, you summarize it quite well. Um, you are, you may be dealing with, you know, an attorney or, or management on multiple issues and on one you have to be very aggressive on the other. You, you know, depending on what leverage you have or what the, the nature of your claim or the controversy and others, you, you know, you, you can’t be that way. Um So it, it, you know, it, it, it’s, it changes, it’s very dynamic. Um um So, uh and, and I think that, that the reason for that is that it helps to maintain, you know, a good relationship between the parties, um which is so important so that the workers, you know, can thrive because it’s not good for anyone. If they’re, uh if there isn’t, you know, good labor relations between um union and management, um whether that’s, you know, on the union level or with the funds, like, you know, you want to make sure that the employers, you know, may have, may be great with the union, you know. Yeah, everyone’s getting paid. No one has any grievances, no, no accidents. Uh Everyone, you know, is, is getting the overtime that they should or whatever. But like, for example, if the employer is not paying the, the, the funds, the, the contributions, excuse me, it owes to benefit funds. That’s a problem for the union. Um So they gotta, you know, resolve that and the, and the funds will do that. Um And it’s all, you know, kind of interconnected. It’s an ecosystem. Um And uh our firm uh has its, uh its finger on, on each part of that

DAVID ( 00:16:02): and when issues do arise, how are, are they often resolved? Do you have cases that you’re taking to trials in front of juries or are you arbitrating? How does it work in this field?

CHRIS ( 00:16:15): Very rarely? Am I in court? Very rarely? Uh You are probably in court way, way, way more than I am. Um You, I’m sure you have me beat very badly.

DAVID ( 00:16:26): Um And not a competition. But thank you. That is true.

CHRIS ( 00:16:30): So, um for us, uh matters are, are resolved in arbitration and,

DAVID ( 00:16:37): and by the I, yeah, I assume a lot of our listeners, uh those who maybe are, find us on our websites or LinkedIn. A lot of people probably know what is arbitration, but for those who don’t, what is it?

CHRIS ( 00:16:48): Arbitration is private dispute resolution where you’re in a conference room, not a courtroom and there’s an arbitrator that’s judge and jury deciding your case. Uh for our cases, it’s, it’s a single arbitrator and the arbitrator is neutral. And he or she is there to decide whether the union’s grievance has merit and what the relief is and it’s 99% of the time. It’s the union that has a grievance. It’s really never ever the, the employer that does. Um And it’s a formal process, each side is represented by an attorney. There’s witnesses, there’s opening statements, there’s closing statements was cross examination of witnesses. Um, evidence is, is introduced, the rules are a little relaxed as far as hearsay goes and, and sometimes relevance of evidence. Um But it’s, it’s, it’s a real, you know, important process for the orderly resolution of disputes between union and employer. And it’s very important that arbitration is, and, and when I deal with it, um because that’s the quid pro quo, that’s the deal uh for not striking.  That’s how you resolve the dispute with arbitration, not with uh with the economic weapons of a strike or a lockout strike being when the union walks out that takes the workers out and they don’t work lockout being where the employer says I’m not gonna let the workers work and I’m going to, you know, cause them some economic harm by not paying them and locking them out. Um So the deal is ok. Well, we’ll arbitrate it. We’ll get a final and binding resolution from an arbitrator and there’s usually no appeal. Um There are grounds to overturn or the legal term is vacate an arbitration award, but it’s a very high bar. And um I’ve never seen a contract that allows for its own internal appeal mechanism. It’s final. And that’s a lot of what we do. Um, and we represent the workers in those hearings. We represent the, the union, of course. Um, and, um, and each side has to live with the decision good or bad.

DAVID ( 00:18:55): And are curiously, are, are these, arbitrations still, done mostly in person or the virtual, or how’s that working in this, new, much more virtual world?

CHRIS ( 00:19:08): We’re living in a lot of it is remote. What we have been doing is um like, I guess a hybrid approach where each side may be with its own at its like on a single screen. So like me, the union representative, the grievance would be in one room, the arbitrator would be on his or her own screen and then the employer would either be separated on its own screens, plural or in a single room and they’d be, you know, all together. Um I haven’t done an in person hearing. The last in person hearing I did was last January and the employer insisted on that because of the amount of documentation in the case, even though, I mean, it really wasn’t that much but um he, he really wanted it to be done in person. Um And so it was um and uh you know, sometimes it’s better to, to be in person when it’s a termination case, meaning someone’s been fired. And so the arbitrators ruling on whether that person and what whether the employer was right in firing that person. because this is in a sense, life and death, either I’m gonna be put back to work or I’m gonna be unemployed and I have to find a new job, which could be a very scary thing. And, um, the worker may feel more comfortable just seeing all the faces in person and, you know, you could see where people’s hands are, what they’re looking at where, you know, uh when you’re on Zoom, it’s, it’s a little bit harder. Um And there’s a little bit more of a trust issue and, you know, for me, that’s kind of easy like I’m used to it, but for work workers aren’t, I mean, we, you know, I, we, we do this all the time but the worker, this may be the first time ever. And so, you know, transparency is very, very important. Um So that’s what I found and let me just say one more thing about arbitration, unlike litigation, there’s really no discovery, discovery being like exchange of facts before the hearing. So you kind of know what each side is gonna say. So that you, you avoid these, uh quote unquote Perry Mason moments, um sometimes are Perry Mason moments in an arbitration because you don’t have that. Um There’s no depositions, there’s no real document requests or interrogatories. Um It’s, it’s, uh I’ve been heard, I’ve heard it described as rough justice. It’s justice, but it’s not, uh it doesn’t have all the trimmings of a real court litigation. Um But, you know, that’s how arbitration is, at least in the labor field. Sometimes you get more for private employment disputes. Uh But for what we do, no.

DAVID ( 00:21:42): How do you prepare a client for cross examination that an arbitration when you may be confronted with documents or issues? You didn’t know about how.

CHRIS ( 00:21:52): It could be hard, it flying at the uh the seat of your pants. Um And you, you are, you know, doing the kind of the, not the prep but the, the, the analysis in real time like OK, is this relevant? Is this, you know, off base is, you know, is this good for us, bad for us? And usually the clients will know already like what they’re gonna be asked about, especially if it’s like, you know, a fact dispute like where were you on state? What were you doing or where were you on the plant? Who are you talking to? Um whatever. Sometimes though there are curveballs. Um I had a case once where it was a uh discipline case and the employer attempted to introduce some blog posts. Um And I forget the re why they were in, attempted to be introduced, but I objected strenuously like this is totally I relevant. What does this have to do with whether this person engaged in, in the misconduct that the employer said he or she engaged in? And the, the, the arbitrator fortunately ruled in our favor and, and, disallowed, that evidence and which was a big win because arbitrators usually will say, well, I’ll let it in but give it the weight, you know, it deserves or the weight that I deemed it to be given. But here it was just a flat out. No. Uh, so that was, that was good. So, um, it’s, it can be difficult. In other words, it’s, it’s really hard to, to do that prep. Um And uh you know, sometimes it feels like not possible and we just got to go in and do the case and, and put on a better case than, than the uh the employer.

DAVID ( 00:23:32): I think you also earlier uh mentioned, your firm does some work with collective bargaining, right? That’s correct. Do you actually work in drafting the collective bargaining agreements?

CHRIS ( 00:23:45): Yes, we do. So that’s a big part of what we do is contract negotiations. And um what we do is we’re, you know, sitting uh across so to say from the employer. And by the way, those are also now a lot uh or done on zoom a lot of times instead of being uh you know, all together. Um But, you know, you’re sitting across the table and you’re listening to the proposals and you’re drafting the language that shows the intent of the parties. What do we mean when we say this at the table? What does that really look like. Now, that’s really important, you know, to get the language right? Because, you know, I may not be here someday, right? But that language may live on and neither will my counterpart. And so we gotta make sure it’s right to live on, you know, after we’re gone. Um And that, that reflects what the party is intended because if it doesn’t reflect what the parties intend, then you have problems, then you have disputes, you have arbitrations, you have disagreements and that we try to avoid at all costs. Um So that’s what I’m there for and also to advise on, you know, the legality of them, whether it’s under state law, like state, you know, sick leave, you know, which is prevalent here in New York, COVID sick leave, uh hours of work overtime, um workers compensation sometimes FMLA leaves um and the subjects of bargaining under the National Labor Relations Act. Um You know, what’s mandatory subject of bargaining? What’s permissive? When can the union say no to something? When, when can the employers say no to something? Um And advising on strikes and, and other uh concern activity, uh like hand billing, uh uh putting up a rat, a banner. Um It runs the gamut, you know, from the actual hard lawyer work of, you know, contract drafting to um advising on concerted activity. I think you may want to do uh in support of its demands.

DAVID ( 00:25:53): And Chris what are some of the issues you’re seeing uh these days with labor organization or collective bargaining or some of the things you mentioned, if you were like, had the opportunity to, to meet a union executive that you haven’t met, what would you be saying? Like, what are some of the issues they need to know about?

CHRIS ( 00:26:13): Right. So, um that’s an important question. I think the first thing I would say is a lot of the organizing seems to be going on at the ground level. You have the workers kind of organizing themselves where a national union is not coming in to organize. You have, for example, Amazon Labor union, that’s, that’s a union where the workers organize themselves basically. Um You have that at Trader Joe’s, um I think at a store in Massachusetts and, and in the Midwest, it might be Minneapolis, um Starbucks, those workers each organize, you know, the respective stores and I think they’re uh they affiliated with Sciu, but still, that’s, that’s ground level. That’s grassroots, same thing with Kickstarter, the first tech union or the first union at a big tech company. Um Those workers again organize themselves with like, so it seemed to me somewhat minimal input from um OPEIU which stands for the Office of Professional Employees International Union. Um And they’ve had remarkable success. Um a few years ago, you, you telling me Trader Joe’s to unionize Starbucks, I find that hard to believe. Um but Starbucks caught on like wildfire Amazon, they organized successfully the, the Staten Island Warehouse um Kickstarter, you know, uh they, they successfully organized that and reached the contract in June of 2022. Um So it’s really been uh tremendous and so um for those union leaders, I would say, you know, try and in some way, leverage that where you’re giving maybe more latitude to those workers and letting them run with it. But still, you know, being involved in and providing the support of the national or, or international with union representatives and legal support because, you know, those the, the independent unions, they don’t have any dues money coming in, they don’t have money to pay professionals to help. So it, it is important, I think still to, to affiliate and have that um that source of knowledge and, and other uh benefits that come with being, you know, part of a larger organization, a larger structure. Um So that’s one thing. Um And um I would say the other thing uh would be to keep pushing on. Um and this, you know, isn’t something that I’m so involved with, but just generally keep pushing at the state and federal level and also city with legislation that protects and helps workers. Um We have the COVID sick leave in New York State. Um We have legislation in New York State that uh now allows farm workers to unionize and that’s a big deal because uh farm workers are not allowed to unionize under federal law. Um, it’s only a steel law issue, so we have New York, California and I think Washington State, um, that allow that. Um, so that’s really great and that’s, you know, something unions push for, um, and, you know, higher minimum wages better, you know, workplace protections to raise the floor so that when unions demand sort of thing, those sort of things, wages better benefits, the floor is already, you know, lifted that high so that those demands aren’t. Um So, um, I guess seen as overreaching, you know, that they’re seen as reasonable. Um, so those are the, those are the big, big things and of course protection of pension benefits, um, and, and other benefits that, that the workers get, um, you know, make sure that those contributions are coming in and you get more contributing employers into those funds to keep those funds solvent.

DAVID ( 00:30:14): Um I’m not sure if I asked you this at the beginning, Chris, we talked a lot about all the things that unions should be aware of, like if they’re going to form and start making all these decisions, but, you know, lots of employees in this country don’t, aren’t involved in, in any of union. What is, what exactly is the benefit of union? Why would you be telling employees or or executives to be, to be doing these things and to be working with lawyers, you to create a good union to have a good collective bargaining agreement. Why, why is it necessary?

CHRIS ( 00:30:47): A union protects the workers, whether you are a cashier at Walmart or uh an attorney uh for some private company. Um, everything in between, um, all, all sorts of, of job titles and classifications and types of work, different industries. The union is there to help, to help you and to, and to preserve the, the, the wages hours, working conditions that you have and to make and to also make them better. Um, without a union without a contract, anything can be just taken away as long as it’s not illegal to do. Um And because most of us are at will employees, the, the employer can do anything it wants except for a legal or discriminatory reason. Um, you know, taking benefits away reducing your wages, uh firing you suspending you. Um, it’s all the discretion of management, all their sole discretion. The only way the, to have a check on that power besides just, you know, laws and regulations is to have a union with a union contract that puts in writing what management can and cannot do. And, um, it’s a tremendous force because of the reaction you get from companies when they hear the word union, it’s a four letter word. Um, they call in the cavalry to, to stop it at all costs. And that alone shows this must be good for the workers if they don’t want it that bad, uh with captive audience meetings, one on one meetings. Um, them constantly saying how a union can’t help. They can’t promise you anything. Why would you pay dues? Why would the company care what you do with your money? They, when would a company ever care what you do with their money except when a union is involved? Right. So, um, it’s, it’s a tremendously, uh good uh force in the world um and has lifted many people into the middle class and beyond and raised their station in life and gave them protections that they otherwise wouldn’t have. So, um that’s, that’s the upshot.

DAVID ( 00:33:06): So I was very excited to have you uh on, on the show Chris, because so much about what you do is, uh you know, a different aspect of kind of the work we do over here at Helen W fighting for the rights of injured workers. Uh You know, a lot of what you’re doing is trying to make sure that people can work and have a good, healthy, safe, fair, equitable working arrangement uh over the course of their career. And, you know, it sounds like there’s a lot of litigation, but also a lot of transaction negotiation to constantly making sure they have someone like you and your firm fighting hard for the rights so they can go to work. Um And I feel very passionate and happy that people like you exist. And uh you know, it’s my job, to my job to step in when they do get injured and can’t go to work anymore to make sure that their rights are protected and that if they, then hopefully they eventually can go back to work and if they end, they, they have people like you that have, a good job waiting for them with good benefits and if they can, hopefully they’re getting fair and reasonable compensation for the rest of their life. If they can’t exactly return to the good union that you help negotiate for them.

CHRIS ( 00:34:26): Exactly. Very well put. Yes. Yes, 100%. Um Right. So you pick up where we leave off in a wedding. Um We are here to represent the collective interests of all of the workers plural and attorneys like you are there to, to vindicate their individual rights. And um it’s, it’s uh very important, very important.

DAVID ( 00:34:54): Chris, if any of our listeners wanted to get a hold of you or your law firm, how would they do so?

CHRIS ( 00:34:59): Yes. You can call us at (212) 868-6300. That’s one way. And you can also email me at uh C like uh Charlie Balu, my last name B like boy, A Luzyy like Yankee at Cary Kane dot com. Carykane dot com.

DAVID ( 00:35:24): Chris Baluzy. Thanks so much for joining us here today. It was really a great, great pleasure getting to speak with you and, hear about all the great work that you do to protect the rights of workers when they’re not injured. We know that they’d be fighting for the rights. Uh, hopefully they get to have but if they don’t, then, we’re here to, to pick up the flag when they aren’t entitled to those, benefits at all. And, right, we really appreciate the, the work you do, on behalf of, of workers out there. For those of you watching, if you want to get in touch with me, my name is David Zwerin and I’m the Senior Trial Attorney at Hill Moin. And our focus is on construction accidents or premises liability cases where, where workers such as the ones that, Chris might represent, happen to have one of those serious injuries that someone may be at fault for whether it’s a violation of law or someone’s negligence. Um If you have any questions that, you’re entitled to significant compensation, whether you’re in a union or not, you can reach us at (212) 668-6000 or at Uh, Until then and, or until the next episode. My name is David of Hill Moin, and, my pleasure to speak with you about, these pressing legal issues and great guests like Christopher Baluzy and I look forward to the next episode. We’ll have another great guest with us on another episode of Rising Leaders of New York. Thank you.

CHRIS ( 00:36:52): Thank you so much, Dave.

VOICEOVER ( 00:36:56): You’ve been listening to rising leaders of New York hosted by David Zwerin of Hill & Moin LLP. You can catch prior episodes at and on Youtube, LinkedIn, Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and more. Thank you for your positive reviews, comments and sharing this show with others.