Instead of just listing the schools I’ve attended and the jobs I’ve held, I thought I would let you know a little about how I got to be where I am today, practicing law.
During college, I worked one summer for a criminal defense attorney in Queens. For an eager 20-year-old, it was a real eye-opener. We would usually start our day by going to one of the criminal courts in New York City or Long Island. Once at court I observed how he dealt with the prosecutors, how he advised his clients and how he interacted with judges and the rest of the courthouse staff.
At the office I got to meet with new clients, and hear their stories, questions and concerns. I helped the boss prepare for trials. It was a great introduction to the life and responsibilities of a criminal defense lawyer, and I soon knew I wanted to go to law school, and wanted to practice criminal law.
At law school in Florida, I joined a criminal law clinic sponsored by the Broward County public defenders’ office. Working at the clinic 40 hours a week, I got to defend people in cases before a judge or a jury.
I remember representing a man charged with damaging his ex-wife’s car. She had alleged she actually saw him slashing her tires. But on the witness stand, I got her to admit she couldn’t say for sure she had actually seen him do it. The jury delivered a not-guilty verdict. What a feeling that was! I knew then and there I was hooked. I loved criminal law, and that was exactly what I wanted to do.
After graduating from law school, I went to work as an Assistant District Attorney in Nassau County. It was hard work and long hours – a heavy caseload (usually between 100 and 150 cases, of varying complexity and great diversity, at any one time) – and I loved it. You can’t be luckier than being able to work at exactly what you want to do, in your first full-time job. It was also the best possible training, teaching the ins and outs of criminal law in both theory and practice, and how cases are put together and argued. A law library can teach you the law as it’s written, but the streets, police stations, jails and courtrooms teach you how the law is lived, and how to understand how investigations and prosecutors work – invaluable knowledge for evaluating evidence and cases.
You soon learn, for example, that in some criminal cases, it may be difficult to distinguish between the victim and the defendant. No matter who started the fight, the loser gets taken to the hospital, while the winner gets taken to the stationhouse. Similarly, a defendant charged with making harassing phone calls may have received as many unwelcome calls from the accuser. And if a police officer has the misfortune to trip and sprain an ankle during an arrest, the charge is likely to climb from a misdemeanor to a felony. After three highly educational years with the D.A.’s office, I started my own law practice on February 2, 1998. From that day on, I’ve had a successful and satisfying criminal defense practice.
One major change during the sixteen years I’ve been practicing law is that, besides criminal law, I have added two other areas to my practice. When representing many clients still in high school, questions would arise about their education. I soon learned some of my teenage clients had IEPs (Individualized Educational Programs), and I became interested in learning more about the law surrounding students and schools.
Because of this, and an issue with my youngest daughter when she was in first grade, about three years ago, I started practicing special education law, representing families in Long Island and New York City who believe their children are not receiving an appropriate education. In my practice, I work to get school district to provide my clients with the appropriate accommodations, services or placements.
More recently, following the enactment of New York’s medical marijuana law, which will raise many legal issues for businesses and individuals alike, I’ve also begun to practice in that area. I will provide legal guidance on the creation and maintenance of cannabis-related businesses, and help clients with licensing, business formation, compliance and other business-related issues.
Nassau County Criminal Law Office
200 Old Country Road Suite 2 S Mineola, NY 11501 Telephone: 516-742-2300
Queens County Criminal Law Office
80-02 Kew Gardens Road Suite 300 Kew Gardens, NY 11415 Telephone: 718-742-6300