Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C. is by any definition a legal powerhouse. But it is the firm’s innovation and community involvement that make it one of BusinessLI’s MVPs for 2003.
The firm was established in 1960 by the late John F. English, the legendary Nassau County Democratic Chairman who was an advisor to John F., Robert and Senator Ted Kennedy and who served as counsel to the Democratic National Committee; Bernard S. Meyer, a former Associate Judge, of the New York Court of Appeals; Joseph A. Suozzi, former Mayor of the City of Glen Cove, a member of the Nassau County Board of Supervisors, New York State Supreme Court Trial Judge, and a former Associate Justice of the Appellate Division; and, John V.N. Klein, former Suffolk County Executive.
Today, Meyer, Suozzi boasts 150 employees, 67 attorneys and, says Lois Schlissel, managing partner — one of the only five percent of women who are managing partners at law firms in the United States — with offices in Nassau, Manhattan, Albany, and one slated to open in 2004 in Suffolk County, “the reason for our success is that we do know the terrain. We work very, very hard and, bottom line—that makes our firm a special place. Our litigation docket includes every state and federal on Long Island and in the metropolitan area.”
She adds other reasons for the firm’s success: “We have offices where potential clients can get to us easily. But, our clients get more than geographic accessibility. We are very responsive. We return calls immediately. This is part of our culture.
“We are successful because we provide broad legal expertise. We try to identify our clients’ needs in advance and meet them. We’re not a boutique firm. Our expertise covers almost any need we can anticipate,” Schissel says.
“Our Employment Department started six years ago when such issues became specially important on Long Island. Another example is our Special Education Department that can provide counsel for parents dealing with school districts and regulations.”
In addition to the founders of the firm, other notable attorneys who practice at Meyer Suozzi include Basil A. Paterson, co-chair of the firm’s Labor Practice and a former New York City Deputy Mayor for Labor Relations, a former New York State Secretary of State, and a former New York State Senator; Harold M. Ickes, co-chair of the firm’s Labor Practice and former assistant to President Clinton and Deputy White House Chief of Staff. Suffolk County Executive Robert J. Gaffney will join Meyer Suozzi when he leaves office in January.
In 2003, the firm added six attorneys in their corporate law practice and continued to work with interns from Touro Law Center and the Hofstra University School of Law.
As individuals, firm members are encouraged to participate in their community. For example, Marty G. Glennon is founder of the Joe Doherty Civil Rights Fellowship, providing scholarships to City University of New York law students who focus on civil rights issues here and abroad. He is also founding member and vice-president of the Brehon Law Society of Nassau County, established to build awareness of current events in Northern Ireland. This year, the society sponsored a forum that featured Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Congressman Peter King and Senator Timothy Dooley from Ireland.
Barry R. Shapiro chaired the National Center for Disability Services’ 37th Annual “Celebrity Sport Night” in May 2003; chairs the Board of Trustees of WLIW Channel 21; and is Chairman Emeritus of the Long Island Philharmonic.
A. Thomas Levin, chair of the firm’s Municipal Law, Land Use and Environmental Compliance Practice, is president-elect of the New York State Bar Association.
Among the many notable achievements by Meyer Suozzi attorneys is the record of Lowell Peterson, a partner in the firm’s Labor Practice, who represented laid off workers from Enron and WorldCom and won tens of millions of dollars in severance pay.
But, with all this accomplishment, Schlissel says she takes the greatest pride in a facet of practice at Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein that brings in neither money nor accolades. Specifically, “This firm is very committed to all aspects of diversity — gender, religion, ethnic and political…Six of our partners are women. Sixteen of our 67 attorneys are women. This is something of which we are really proud.”