Number of years as a member of the WCBA, positions held and awards received: WCBA member for 12 years and current and past roles include co-chair of the New Lawyers Section, co-chair of the Bankruptcy & Creditors’ Rights Committee and WCBA assistant secretary, secretary, and board member. I have received the following awards: Above the Bar Award, Most Promising New Attorney (2008), LSHV Partner in Justice Award (2009), LSHV Pro Bono Honoree (2016)—this one is pretty cool and was based on my work with LSHV and then Executive Director Erin Guven in developing a model for bankruptcy petitions at all LSHV locations.
My current job and practice area: Partner at DelBello Donnellan Weingarten Wise & Wiederkehr, LLP.
Prior to that, since 2004 when I graduated law school I was with Rattet Pasternak & Gordon Oliver, LLP (which merged with DDW in 2013).
I’ve always and only done corporate and consumer bankruptcy.
How I decided to become a bankruptcy attorney: In law school, I worked part time at a law office doing corporate and consumer bankruptcy, and really liked it. Part of it was transactional, part of it was litigation, so that appealed to me. For the corporate bankruptcy, it stays interesting and you never stop learning because each business is different from the other. My cases range from restaurants, to construction contractors, to hotels, so I learn all the intricacies about each business.
One of my favorite legal success stories: My first corporate bankruptcy case was A.C.E. Elevator Co., Inc., which had been one of the biggest elevator contractors in New York City. Their largest customer was the Port Authority for servicing the World Trade Center, so after 9/11 they lost almost all their revenue. ACE Elevator was a union employer, so the union was one of their biggest creditors, and certainly the most adversarial, trying to put them out of business and strike the employees even though they sought bankruptcy relief. Due to scheduling conflicts, I ended up covering a contested hearing all on my own. Being a young female in a male dominated industry I was nervous, especially since I was arguing against the union’s attorney, a seasoned attorney with over 50 years of practice under his belt. At the time, I was only 25 and had not even been admitted an entire year yet! But, I was prepared and in the end I prevailed! My adversary saw me as a young inexperienced female and thought I was more a paralegal or assistant and underestimated me. What I learned from that hearing, as well as subsequent hearings and settlement conferences, was that I will always be underestimated as a young female in my industry. Instead of letting other people’s misjudgment of me upset me, I use it as leverage. I allow my adversaries to underestimate me and use it to my advantage to obtain the best result for my client.
If I were not practicing law I would be: Probably an accountant. I love math.
People may be surprised to learn: I crochet. I make blankets, scarves, and hats.
The best thing I did to improve marketing my practice and myself: I’ve taken a step back from marketing for the past few years. As a working mom of two young boys (two and four) it is more important to be home with them at night than building my practice. It certainly is tough to see my colleagues growing their practice while mine is going the slow and steady course. But the few hours I spend with my boys at night playing, talking and reading are priceless. It is unfortunate that this is the decision and sacrifice working mothers have to make.
What I splurge on: Shoes!
Favorite songs: Love the Dave Matthews Band. Now that my kids listen to music, I find myself singing along to their songs, so I’m a closet Justin Beiber fan. Anyone want to go with me to see him on New Years Eve in South Beach?!
Favorite meal: Sushi Mike!
My favorite vacation spot: Hawaii.
Three things I can’t live without: My husband, my kids and the beach.
Best advice I ever got: My father always said “kill them with kindness.” Not only can you get a lot more accomplished “killing with kindness,” the positivity is contagious and you find yourself in a better mood. The opposite is also true—negativity can be infectious and completely consuming.
My advice to new lawyers: You won’t get anywhere without hard work and hustle. If you expect things to just happen, they won’t. YOU need to make them happen. And be over prepared for everything—your next case, your next court hearing, your life.
One of my future ambitions is to: I love the idea of fostering children. I would love to foster kids, I just have to convince the rest of my family.
My favorite part of being involved with the WCBA: The camaraderie! I value and cherish the relationships I’ve made with the members.
Also, from a practice standpoint, the WCBA has always done an annual “roundtable” CLE with the sitting bankruptcy judge in White Plains, and it provides a very intimate and unique opportunity—to hear from a judge that I regularly appear before—what he’s thinking about, what’s on his mind, and hear his feedback to the bankruptcy Bar.