Garden City Fire Fighters, Local 1588, IAFF recently won an arbitration challenging the Village of Garden City’s decision to terminate the health benefits of a Professional Fire Fighter injured in the line of duty who had been hospitalized. The Garden City Fire Fighters were represented at the arbitration by Meyer Suozzi attorney Richard S. Corenthal. The Village of Garden City was represented by three attorneys from the law firm Bond Schoeneck & King. A copy of the Opinion and Award of Arbitrator Richard Adelman, finding a violation of the Fire Fighters’ collective bargaining agreement, is attached.
February 26, 2018 (Garden City) – Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C. is pleased to announce that William Kang has joined the firm as an Associate in the firm’s Litigation and Dispute Resolution Department, resident in our Garden City office.
Mr. Kang has both trial and arbitration experience, representing clients in federal and state court as well as before the American Arbitration Association. His practice focuses on complex commercial disputes, shareholder derivative claims, fraud, and trademark and patent infringement suits. In addition, he has experience representing clients in complex surety bond, fidelity bond and construction litigation.
“William is a welcome addition to our team, as we continue to expand the depth and scope of our Litigation practice,” said Kevin Schlosser, Chair of Meyer Suozzi’s Litigation Department. “He shares our dedication to hard work and tenacious client service.”
Prior to joining Meyer Suozzi, Mr. Kang was an Associate at Barton LLP in New York City, where he practiced commercial and intellectual property litigation.
Mr. Kang, a Mineola resident, received his J.D. from Duke University School of Law and a B.A. in economics-mathematics from Columbia University. While in law school, he served as an Article Editor of the Duke Journal of Gender Law and Policy and as a judicial intern for the Honorable Paul Martin Newby of the Supreme Court of North Carolina. He is admitted to practice in the State of New York, the United States District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, and the United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.
About Meyer Suozzi’s Litigation and Dispute Resolution Practice
Meyer Suozzi has a robust litigation and dispute resolution practice, active at every level of state and federal court, and before administrative and arbitral tribunals. The Firm’s lawyers, including former judges and justices as well as prosecutors, judicial law secretaries, and commercial litigators, are often called upon to handle complex trials and appeals, or to lend insight on local practices and procedures. Clients range from large international corporations and local businesses, to municipalities and government groups, to individual professionals. For more information, visit www.msek.com.
Richard Brook has been appointed to the Board of Directors of the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee (“LCC”). The LCC is comprised of more than 1,800 union-side labor lawyers in more than 500 firms and union legal departments nationwide. For more information on the LCC Coordinating Committee, click here.
The public hearing and comment period is officially over for the Clover Drive development proposal, Great Neck Estates village officials said on Monday night, although trustees elected to take no action at the meeting.
“The reason I’ve asked that all to go on the agenda is to make the public record clear that the hearing is closed, the comment period is closed,” A. Thomas Levin, the village attorney, said at the meeting.
Levin added that the village received some comments during the period and that village officials can act on the proposal when they are ready to do so.
The proposal from Lalezarian Properties would build 11 homes on approximately three acres of land on Clover Drive, which borders the villages of Great Neck and Great Neck Estates, after subdividing the property. Ten of those homes would be in Great Neck, with the other being in Great Neck Estates.
Old Mill 2 LLC is managing the project for Lalezarian Properties.
Residents previously raised concern about safety issues along Clover Drive as well as the lack of precedent for a homeowners association that will eventually manage the homes.
At a previous meeting, developers and representatives said they remain committed to creating a safe access road for emergency vehicles, as well as maintaining and developing the homes.
The Village of Great Neck approved the subdivision proposal in May 2014 after years of proceedings, although the approval process did not conclude there until 2016. An application was then filed in Great Neck Estates in October 2016.
In unrelated business, officials reviewed a “just in case” law to exceed the state imposed tax cap if necessary, approved a law changing the village administrator’s term to “at the pleasure of the mayor” from two years, and ratified emergency repairs involving a manhole cover and damaged wiring.
Trustees also approved having Bee Ready Fishbein Hatter & Donovan LLP represent the village in pending PBA negotiations.
The next Board of Trustees meeting is March 12.
Meyer Suozzi is saddened to share that our colleague and dear friend, Janice Ann Clear Enright passed away in the early evening of February 6, 2018 at her home in Belle Haven, VA, after a year’s long siege by neuroendocrine cancer. Known by many as “J”, she was 67 years old.
Born in October 1950 in Baldwin, NY, the only child of Robert Clear and Jean Braun Clear, Janice grew up on Long Island, where she graduated from Valley Stream South High School, and later earned a BA degree in education from the Westbury campus of the State University of New York. Shortly before moving to Washington DC, she had begun working on a degree from Adelphi University to teach the hearing impaired.
After working at Jahn’s Ice Cream Parlor in Rockville Centre, Long Island, in 1985 Janice went to work at the prestigious Long Island law firm of Meyer Suozzi English and Klein, founded by the renowned NY Democratic leader and close Kennedy confidant John F. English. Initially apolitical, she became an ardent Democrat. As a trusted ally and confidant of Democratic activist Harold Ickes, a partner at MSEK, she held a front row seat at the highest levels of NYC and national politics, including the election of David M. Dinkins as the first Black mayor of New York City, where she made lasting friendships with future Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife; Jesse L. Jackson’s 1988 presidential bid; Bill Clinton’s nomination and election in 1992 and reelection in 1996. She also worked on the 1992 Democratic National Convention in NYC with Democratic National Party Chairman Ron Brown; and Hillary Clinton’s historic 2000 campaign for senate in NY and 2008 presidential campaign.
Janice served as chief of staff to deputy White House chief of staff Harold Ickes for three years and then, as his chief of staff at the 1997 G-8 Summit in Denver, the annual conference of leading western economic powers.
In 1997, Janice and Harold formed The Ickes & Enright Group, Inc., focusing on government affairs, of which she was president until her death. She served a range of clients, focusing primarily on not-for-profit organizations, and was proud to be one of the few women owners of a Washington, DC firm.
Keeping its own identity, The Ickes & Enright Group joined with the then Griffin, Johnson, Peck, Madigan & Stewart firm, to establish the bipartisan Tiber Creek Group, one of Washington, DC’s preeminent, freestanding government relations firms, now composed of The Ickes & Enright Group; Peck Madigan Jones; Bay Bridge Strategies; Tiber Creek Health Strategies; & TiberCom.
Janice’s longtime partner Harold said, “One could not have wished for a better, more trusted partner and confident that J. A very special gem. She was talented, optimistic, discreet, shrewd, devoted, very smart, a wonderful writer and had a winning way with people from all backgrounds. Many of those who knew her much preferred dealing with her than with me. As hardened and cynical as Washington can be, she was without guile, she never lost her optimism, and always found the best in people. If a measure of a person is the unrestrained devotion of their friends, J ranked at the very top. Her heart was deep and loving. She was a model and an inspiration for many. We have lost a very bright light. She will be greatly missed and long remembered.”
Early on after moving to Washington DC, she found deep serenity at her and Gary’s weekend retreat at Mineral Spring Farm in Talbot County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, with her beloved horse Jolly and her Golden Retrievers, including Rugby who was at her side when she slipped away last Tuesday.
Janice’s greatest pride and lasting monument, however, is her family, of which she was the center of gravity. She is survived by her husband, Gary of 36 years; two children by her first husband, Bruce Alvarez – Michael Alvarez of San Diego, CA, who served as a Marine Corps pilot in the Afghanistan war, and his sons, Tuner and Van, and Jennifer Alvarez Warburton of Alexandria, VA, an accomplished Washington, DC lobbyist and her husband, Will, and their children, Graeme and Claire Janice; and by her half-sister, Robin Clear.
Meyer Suozzi is pleased to announce that Justice Randall T. Eng has joined the firm as Of Counsel and a member of the Litigation Department, including the Appellate Practice and Criminal Defense groups. Justice Eng will also serve as referee, receiver and arbitrator within the firm’s Alternative Dispute Resolution practice.
Immediately prior to joining Meyer Suozzi, Justice Eng served as the Presiding Justice of the New York Appellate Division, Second Department – the busiest and largest Judicial Department in the State of New York, with jurisdiction over cases from Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and the counties of Nassau, Suffolk, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester, handling over 9,000 appeals per year. As Presiding Justice, he was the highest ranking judge in the Second Department Appellate Division, in charge of all of its operations, as well as a sitting judge on appellate panels.
Kevin Schlosser, Chair of the firm’s Litigation & Dispute Resolution Department, observed: “Meyer Suozzi is proud to continue its unparalleled tradition of welcoming the highest caliber judges as they proceed to the next level of their legal careers.” Mr. Schlosser continued, “Justice Eng will undoubtedly provide unique and insightful counsel and advice to Meyer Suozzi’s clients and our team of lawyers, including in all manner of business affairs, litigation, appeals and dispute resolution.”
When asked why he chose to join Meyer Suozzi, Justice Eng stated that “I am eager to continue my legal career and Meyer Suozzi has a stellar reputation for legal excellence, which I have personally observed through the fine work of its litigators.” He continued, “after more than 30 years on the bench, I have a deep understanding of the systems and processes of the courts and believe that my experience will benefit Meyer Suozzi’s attorneys and its clients.”
The firm’s Managing Attorney, Patricia Galteri, said “Justice Eng has remarkable credentials, having amassed an impressive judicial career and other dedicated public service. He will be a tremendous asset to our firm, bringing his insights and litigation acumen to our clients.”
Born in Guangzhou, China, Justice Eng was raised in New York City. He earned his undergraduate degree from State University of New York at Buffalo and his juris doctor degree from St. John’s University School of Law.
Following law school, Justice Eng began his esteemed legal career in public service as an assistant district attorney in Queens County. At the time, he became the first Asian American appointed as an assistant prosecutor in New York State history, and served in this role from 1973-1980. He then served as the Deputy Inspector General of the New York City Correction Department from 1980 to 1981, and later became the Inspector General, a role in which he served from 1981 to 1983. In 1983, Justice Eng became the first Asian American to become a judge in New York State when he was appointed to the Criminal Court of the City of New York by Mayor Edward I. Koch. He sat in the Criminal Court until 1988 when he was designated an Acting Justice of the New York State Supreme Court. In 1990 and 2004, Justice Eng was elected and reelected to full 14-year terms on that bench.
In the course of his career in the Queens courts, he was appointed Administrative Judge of the Criminal Term of Queens County Supreme Court in 2007, and served in that role until 2008 when he was elevated to the Appellate Division, Second Department. In 2012, Governor Cuomo appointed Justice Eng to lead the Second Department, where he became the first Asian American to serve as Presiding Justice in New York State’s history.
In addition to his prolific legal career, Justice Eng proudly served his country as a member of the New York Army National Guard from 1970 until 2004, when he retired as State Judge Advocate holding the rank of Colonel.
Justice Eng, a Manhasset resident, will practice in Meyer Suozzi’s Garden City, Long Island office.
Intelligent Product Solutions, Inc. (IPS), a Hauppauge product design firm, was acquired by Forward Industries, Inc., a public NASDAQ-listed company based in Florida. Richard Eisenberg, Of Counsel to Meyer Suozzi, represented IPS in the transaction including the negotiation and closing of the acquisition. IPS was purchased in a cash, stock and debt deal that was worth up to $7 million.
In early October, the 200-year-old Baxter House was demolished, ending a long-running battle between the home’s owner, Sabrina Wu, and local residents who wanted to save the building. But the demolition marked the beginning of a new dispute between Wu and the Port Washington Water Pollution Control District.
Wu and her attorney, Thomas Levin, wrote in separate letters that the sewer district was unnecessarily requiring her to disconnect from the main located beneath Shore Road instead of on Wu’s property.
“To process the disconnect at the main… will cost us 28 to 30 times of what a standard homeowner [is] expected to pay for the sewage disconnect,” Wu wrote in a letter on Sept. 8.
Disconnecting from the sewer main would cost Wu about $35,000, according to a letter by her attorney, because the main is located beneath Shore Road. When the owner wanted to reconnect to the main, Levin wrote that it would cost an additional $35,000.
“If this $70,000+ cost can be avoided, it would be a great benefit to Ms. Wu,” he wrote.
Windsor Kinney, the superintendent for the water pollution control district, said that disconnects usually cost around $4,000 to $15,000 and that the district offers several licensed contractors so homeowners can get the best possible price.
“We don’t deal with just one contractor, so you can hire someone cheaper,” he said.
Baxter Estate Trustee Chris Ficalora suggested that the increased cost might have been due to the water pollution control district commissioners’ frustration that the Baxter House was allowed to be torn down.
“My understanding is that [the district commissioners] were unhappy with how the village handled the legal matter,” Ficalora said. “They made it very well known to our mayor they were unhappy with her for letting the house fall into disrepair and are assessing [Wu] a huge amount of money as punishment.”
Efforts to reach the commissioners were unavailing, and Levin declined to comment on the details in the exchanges he and his client have had with local officials.
“We don’t handle our matters in the newspapers,” he said.
The issue first came up over the summer. With the Baxter House critically damaged from a fire, the village wanted Wu to tear down the house as soon as possible. But before the house could be demolished, it had to be disconnected from the sewer main.
Wu and the water pollution control district could not reach an agreement, so the village waived the requirement to disconnect from the sewer main so the house could be demolished.
Since then, Ficalora said the village has not been involved with the dispute.
“The village has not gotten involved in the battle between Ms. Wu and water district because it’s not in our jurisdiction,” he said.
With the disconnection, there is a small amount of clear water leaking out of the pipe— about 50 milliliters a minute, according to an inspection conducted by Kinney shortly after the house was demolished.
In a letter, an attorney for the sewer district said Wu would be permitted to temporarily cap the sewer line if she paid a $300 disconnect permit fee and a $2,500 deposit; if she agreed to do a full disconnection/connection to the main before construction or selling the property; and if the capping was done in the presence of a district engineer and as close to the property line as possible.
Kinney said that Wu was being made to follow the requirements of every other resident.
“You have to take what they say and draw your own conclusions,” he said. “The homeowner is not doing what she’s supposed to be doing. We’ve got to watch out for the public, for the environment and our infrastructure, so it’s not like I’m doing anything to be a bully.”
Alexander Berger, a Member of Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C., has joined the Board of Trustees of Long Island Children’s Museum. Berger, a resident of Oceanside, NY, was elected to a three-year board term. LICM President Suzanne LeBlanc announced the appointment.
“I am excited to welcome Alexander Berger to the Museum’s board,” stated LeBlanc. “His enthusiasm for the role the Museum plays in enhancing the lives of children resonates strongly with him as a parent and as a business leader.”
In discussing his appointment, Mr. Berger said, “As a parent of three school-aged children and as an involved Oceanside resident, I understand the importance of an organization such as LICM.” He continued, “It is an honor to assist in furthering LICM’s mission to foster the growth of our next generation and I look forward to working with the Board of Trustees on vital community projects and initiatives.”
Mr. Berger is Chair of Meyer Suozzi’s Commercial Real Estate Department located in Garden City, New York. In his position, he represents land proprietors and developers in all aspects of transactional real estate, including the management, construction, acquisition, disposition and financing (construction, acquisition, joint venture and mortgage conduit loans) of commercial properties regionally and nationwide. Additionally, he represents landlords and tenants in all types of commercial real estate lease transactions.
Prior to joining Meyer Suozzi, Mr. Berger was a Partner at Westerman Ball Ederer Miller Zucker & Sharfstein, LLP. He received his B.A. from New York University in 1997 and his J.D. from New York Law School in 2000. Mr. Berger is a member of the bar in New York State and New Jersey, and the U.S. District Courts for both the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.
About the Long Island Children’s Museum
The mission of the Long Island Children’s Museum is to connect all our communities’ children, and those who care for them, to a life of wonder, imagination and exploration. At LICM, children discover their passions and their relationship to the world we share. The 40,000-square-foot museum welcomes nearly 250,000 children and adults annually. The private, not-for-profit institution chartered by the New York State Board of Regents, offers museum-based educational programs and cultural experiences, as well as an extensive community outreach program offered in schools, libraries and youth centers across Long Island. The Museum is the recipient of the 2012 National Medal for Museum & Library Service, the highest honor conferred on museums for extraordinary civic, educational, economic, environmental, and social contributions.
By: Adina Genn
Allan Cohen, Office Managing Partner, Nixon Peabody – As a business lawyer, my practice is directly impacted by the health of the economy. I believe that we risk a downturn in 2018, as companies and individuals assess the impact on them of tax law changes, and increasingly grow wary of the inevitable general economic downturn. It is easy to lose sight of the fact that we have been experiencing one of the longest economic upswings in history. The last recession was more than 10 years ago. On a positive note, I expect that the Long Island economy, including legal work, will increasingly be fueled by the innovation in which the Island has been investing, especially life sciences and health. Some of the biotechnology, life sciences and other innovation-based companies that received seed funding and incubation on Long Island in the last five years, including at some of our renowned research institutions, will further develop into engines of economic growth on Long Island. Finally, I see increasing economic collaboration between Long Island and New York City. Long Island continues to present a talented and lower-cost, yet proximate alternative to New York City companies facing pressure to maintain or increase their profits.
Jennifer Cona, Managing Partner, Genser Dubow Genser & Cona – 2018 will present unique challenges for the long-term health care facility and senior health care marketplace. With the presumptive passage of the tax bill, we will likely see cuts to federal programs, such as Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, to off-set the resultant deficit increase. This at a time when our nation as a whole, and Long Island in particular, is seeing a growing senior population whose long term health care resources are already stretched thin.
Skilled nursing facilities struggle to deliver quality care to our older adults and vulnerable seniors while managing their bottom line. The challenges of managed care, slow reimbursement, and a shrinking hiring pool of health care workers have led to buy-outs, mergers and management consolidation. These industry strains on an already stressed marketplace require a nimble management team in lock-step with legal counsel. Long-term health care facilities that identify problem matters early, and quickly refer such cases to legal counsel, dramatically increase their reimbursement dollars and rate of success.
During 2017, our firm experienced a substantial increase in health care facility representation business and we expect the same in 2018. We are currently hiring more attorneys and support staff to adequately service our health care facility clients.
Adam Silvers, Managing Partner, Ruskin Moscou Faltischek – The stories that dominated 2017 – sexual harassment in the work environment, cyber threats, and corporate mergers and acquisitions – will continue to drive the legal landscape in the coming year.
While allegations of harassment and inappropriate behavior by those in the entertainment, media or political arenas garner the headlines, companies in virtually every industry and of every size will need to closely examine their policies on workplace behavior. There will be increased focus this year on expanding in-house training, updating procedures for handling complaints of inappropriate behavior and providing counsel in the event of litigation.
Cybersecurity will remain on the forefront not just for 2018 but for years ahead. With new threats almost daily, all businesses need to regularly assess their preventative systems and policies and evaluate their contingency plans in the event a data breach occurs to maximize their legal protection. Companies in specific industries such as financial services and health care need to navigate additional complex regulations and notification requirements, and any business can face reputational ruin from a single data breach.
In corporate law, increased confidence in the economy, as reflected in the healthy stock market, and a plethora of capital held by private equity funds, should continue to fuel substantial merger and acquisition activity in 2018. Companies in all industries will need to assess the complexities in the anticipated benefits of corporate tax cuts from Washington.
Joseph Milizio, Managing Partner, Vishnick McGovern Milizio – Our firm experienced fiscal and physical growth in 2017. We added attorneys and staff to our estate and trust department and our elderlaw/Medicaid planning areas. Despite proposed changes to the tax law, which would significantly increase the estate tax exemption amount, we are seeing an increase in client estate planning needs. The baby boom generation is now overseeing the needs of their parents; eldercare and Medicaid planning also are of paramount importance. Due to the aging population, our firm also has experienced an uptick in guardianship proceedings. Our other practice areas have remained steadfast. One of our accomplishments is the ability to foresee the needs of our clients in various practice areas and make sure the crossover is seamless. For instance, our estate planning team often works with our business exit planning team to make sure that our clients’ personal and business needs are met. We work together to develop goals with our clients and make sure all of their needs are addressed. Clients are sensitive to legal fees and making sure they receive value, so in addition to our normal case management, we are involved in mediation and collaborative law endeavors in our litigation and family law departments.
2018 will be a good year. We are looking forward to adding to our office space at our Lake Success location and possibly expand into Suffolk County. We will then have coverage in Manhattan, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, as well as New Jersey. We are looking to expand our firm and combine resources in a well thought-out manner. In that regard, we have been speaking to smaller firms that are well-regarded in their practice areas. In addition to internal growth, we see the benefits of expansion through lateral mergers.
Leslie H. Tayne, Founder, Tayne Law Group, Melville – As we step into 2018, Long Islanders, as well as the rest of the country are waiting impatiently on how the tax changes are going to affect their future financial situation. It is anticipated that there may be some unfavorable scenarios surrounding the new tax law changes for people who have debt issues.
Here on Long Island, incomes have flat-lined over the last few years and expenses are climbing. Paying off or resolving debt and dealing with creditors is already challenging for consumers that are trying get a handle on their finances. There’s no predicting what creditors will do with debt owed to them. We could see more lawsuits or less, or see the debts sold to third parties or creditors retaining the debts to work it internally.
With upcoming new rules and laws, there will be more hoops to jump through in debt resolution. There’s still some confusion surrounding who will be affected by the new tax laws and the effect that will have on how the creditors manage outstanding debt. The results for individuals from the new tax laws is that people could receive less in tax refund money if certain things are less deductible, like property taxes. Not taking as many deductions could show more income and put people into a higher tax responsibility which will add more strain on Long Islanders trying to make ends meet and stay out of debt in 2018.
Donna-Marie Korth,Commercial Litigation Partner, Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman – As we enter the New Year, there will be a significant change in the area of commercial litigation. As of Jan. 1, 2018, two recent amendments to the Commercial Division Rules will be in effect. These rules, amendments to Rules 10 and 11, are designed to encourage alternative dispute resolution of commercial cases.
The new rules foster communication between attorneys and clients about alternatives to the usual discovery and trial practice, and require attorneys to certify to the court that such discussion has been had in each case. This is in stark contrast to past practices, where alternatives to litigation, such as mediation, were either never mentioned or not discussed until very late in the game.
It certainly seems that 2018 may usher in a much broader use of alternative dispute resolution. This could ultimately save litigants significant time, money, and aggravation, and may help alleviate some of the caseload in our already overburdened court system. It is predicted that mediation and arbitration may become the “new” norm for resolving lawsuits in 2018 and beyond. It is my hope as a mediator that these substitutes for litigation will be considered for all types of disputes.
Patricia Galteri Managing Attorney, Meyer, Suozzi, English, & Klein – The tax bill, released Dec. 15, is certainly an early holiday gift for those practicing in the field of trusts and estates. It is probable that effective Jan. 1, 2018, individuals will reap an increase in the federal gift and estate tax exemption, as adjusted for inflation, from $5.49 million to $11.2 million. The provisions of the proposed tax bill provide for this increased exemption, at least until 2026 when the exemptions will revert back to the scheduled 2018 amount of $5.6 million, as adjusted for inflation. What will 2018 offer to individuals in need of estate planning?
Wealthy individuals will take the time to review the structure of estate plans to make sure the amount passing to a trust for the benefit of a spouse is not overstated, especially in blended families. There will be a marked increase in the contributions to existing trusts, likely those created in 2012, to use the increased exemption. Types of trusts expected to be augmented include spousal access trusts, benefiting a spouse and descendants but keeping the income flowing into the family, or lifetime trusts for children to protect them from creditors, including a divorcing spouse, or trusts that can avoid estate taxation in the child’s estate, yet permit the child to act as a co-trustee and direct disposition of the trust fund at the child’s death to a limited group of individuals.
The tax bill will certainly keep trusts and estates professionals active in 2018 and beyond.
Evan Krinick, Managing Partner, Rivkin Radler – It has been said (by Peter Drucker) that “trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window.” Hop in and let’s go for a ride.
Here are some predictions about the practice of law in 2018:
Cybersecurity will continue to be a major concern of all institutions, including law firms, and despite continued advances in protective technology, there will be major hacking scandals and privacy breaches. Lawyers need to protect their own and their clients’ data, and will be called upon to assist clients in dealing with privacy issues.
2 Sexual harassment and other employment discrimination allegations will multiply exponentially in 2018. There will be a marked increase in training and education throughout the corporate world.
The new tax bill will create confusion and uncertainty, and will be corrected before the year is over. Technology will continue to alter every aspect of the practice of law, including communications, legal research and billing. Personal relationships and trust will remain the foundation of all attorney-client relationships.
Joe Campolo, Managing Partner, Campolo, Middleton & McCormick – The long overdue dialogue sparked by the #MeToo movement is not just a passing trend. In 2018, we must engage in an even deeper discussion on sexual harassment in the workplace.
The priority is to make sure that women who have been victimized are safe and able to tell their stories. I applaud and support the many women who have had the strength to come forward and call out the many men who have abused their positions of power.
However, this watershed moment also demands that we find the right balance between keeping victims safe and not overreacting when normal human behavior has occurred. While businesses must have proper procedures and training in place to create a safe workplace, it’s also important that they preserve the camaraderie and office culture that make their businesses sociable and enjoyable places to work. No one wants to work with a bunch of robots who don’t say a word out of fear that they might offend someone. Such a workplace culture would also be damaging to women, as they could lose out on promotions, projects, or mentoring relationships that involve close contact with the opposite sex, which employers may come to view as too risky.
As we continue to expose those men who use their powerful positions as a cover to disrespect women, we must also be cognizant of the fact that this swing of the pendulum has exposed innocent men to having their careers ruined by allegations that they said something inappropriate, rather than just having been friendly with someone.
Striking the right balance must be dealt with at the workplace level, and not through the courts. The unprecedented number of harassment allegations now coming to the surface will get lost in an overburdened court system; all claims, legitimate or not, will get muddled together in a judicial system that is simply unable to handle it all.
Instead, real solutions to sexual harassment in the workplace can only come from fostering an environment of collaboration and mutual respect among all employees. That means that men need to take responsibility for self-correcting their behavior as well as to stop ignoring (at best) or encouraging (at worst) when other men act inappropriately. We need to keep this dialogue open in 2018 for this national moment of reckoning to truly have a lasting impact.