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The Successful Solo/Small Firm Practice 2015: The Tools You Need to Succeed in Today's Economy

Speaker(s): Abe Hsuan, Anne Marie Bowler, Christopher A. Raimondi, Fred P. Rooney, George R. Hinckley, Justin Blitz, Sari Gabay-Rafiy
Recorded on: Jul. 7, 2015
PLI Program #: 58520

Fred Rooney, Director
Touro Law Center’s International Justice Center for Post-Graduate Development

Fred Rooney has been credited with creating a law school-based incubator model for justice and for being a catalyst in the transformation of legal education in the US.  The powerful incubator and post-graduate movement he began in legal education in 2007 is forcing law schools to rethink their responsibility to graduates and to the plight of millions of individuals in the US who, for reasons of economics, lack access to justice.  His work is innovative and entrepreneurial and  is impacting on thousands of people in the US and abroad.

In June 2013, Fred completed a 10-month Fulbright in the Dominican Republic where he launched the first post-graduate legal initiative outside in the Caribbean and last month, the American Bar Journal named Fred a "2013 Legal Rebel" and recognized as "'the Father of Incubators." Today, he serves as the director of Touro Law Center’s International Justice Center for Post-Graduate Development.  Additionally, he was recently designed a Fulbright Specialist.

Fred earned his J.D. from the City University of New York’s School of Law in 1986.  In 1998 he returned to CUNY to direct a “unique public/private partnership” that offered a network of support and resources for CUNY Law School grads in small community-based practices who are working to increase access to justice throughout New York City. The New York Law Journal, New York Times, Legal Times and American Bar Association Journal have highlighted Fred’s successes and  law schools across the US have been studying Fred’s work when designing their own network of community-based practitioners.

Beyond multi-faceted support for CLRN’s several hundred attorney members, Fred has developed two unique and successful projects – the Incubator for Justice and the LaunchPad for Justice.  The Incubator, a first of its kind support system for fledgling lawyers, has been used as a model for law schools and bar associations across the US that are creating post-graduate programs for their graduates.  CLRN’s innovative LaunchPad for Justice project, incorporating the work of recent law school graduates to represent some of the 99% of unrepresented tenants in New York City Housing Courts, has been widely applauded.

In January 2010, Fred was awarded the 2010 Father Robert Drinan Award by the American Association of Law School’s (AALS) and on February 5, 2010, he accepted the American Bar Association (ABA) Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services’ 2010 Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access, which was awarded to CLRN. The Brown Award recognizes innovative programs that meet the legal needs of those who do not qualify for legal aid yet still aren't able to afford typical legal fees.

On February 5, 2014, Fred was added to the Fulbright Specialist Roster by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and the Institute of International Education’s Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES).

Anne Marie Bowler counsels clients in a range of industries including technology, food, fashion, jewelry, real estate development, art, e-commerce, media and the non-profit sector.

Anne Marie is both a litigator and transactional attorney – litigating cases in state and federal court, representing executives in corporate investigations, and crafting and negotiating contracts in transactions for small and large businesses.  Anne Marie has successfully represented clients in litigations involving business disputes, international investments, breach of contract claims, fraud, employment and non-compete matters, insurance coverage disputes and intellectual property protection.  Anne Marie is also a trained mediator and implements these skills in her practical approach to litigations.

Anne Marie finds that her litigation background proves especially helpful in drafting and negotiating contract as she appreciates drafting pitfalls.   Anne Marie crafts, negotiates and finalizes contracts related to employment (including non-competition, confidentiality and independent contractor agreements), business or partnership separations, consignment, business formation, privacy and e-commerce, joint ventures, and intellectual property, among others.

Anne Marie serves as an Adjunct Professor at New York Law School, where she teaches Drafting Contracts, an upper-level course.  She has also taught the core legal requirements of Legal Reasoning Writing and Research, as well as Written and Oral Advocacy.

In 2012, Anne Marie was invited to participate as an Executive Task Force Member in the Wall Street Journal’s Women In The Economy Conference, where top leaders in government, business and academia strategized a way to better leverage female talent to promote economic growth and competitiveness. In 2012, Anne Marie was also featured in the Wall Street Journal in an article on work-life balance, and NPR. 

Prior to co-founding GRB , Anne Marie was a Senior Litigator at Proskauer’s Litigation Department and a Member of the firm’s Criminal Defense and Corporate Investigations Practice Group.  At Proskauer, Anne Marie represented high-profile clients in internal investigations, government investigations, prosecutions and state and federal commercial litigations.

During her tenure at Proskauer, Anne Marie was invited to serve a two-year term as a law clerk to former Chief Judge of the State of New York, Judith S. Kaye, on New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals.  In this role, Anne Marie analyzed legal issues of first impression in the State and assisted with drafting legal opinion in civil and criminal appeals.

George Hinckley is the founding partner of Hinckley & Heisenberg LLP and leads the firm's litigation group.  The firm was founded in 2000 and specializes in complex commercial litigation, representing clients at trial and on appeal in commercial matters.

Mr. Hinckley is a Law Review graduate of Georgetown University Law Center. Prior to forming Hinckley & Heisenberg, he practiced law at Donovan Leisure Newton & Irvine LLP, along with his partner Christoph Heisenberg, and Christopher March and Peter Lubitz.

Representative Matters:

• Obtained a settlement of a nationwide class action against Subaru based upon the Federal Odometer Act. The settlement will provide Subaru owners with benefits valued at approximately $60 million. The settlement will extend consumer warranties and reimburse consumers for excess lease mileage charges and prior automobile repairs.
• Collected $3.6 million settlement from HSBC Bank in civil RICO action brought on behalf of Japanese investors defrauded by a commodities Ponzi scheme.
• Obtained jury verdict for $3.4 million for real estate brokerage commission.
• Represented Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP and Donovan Leisure Newton & Irvine LLP in resolving disputes with former employees.
• Obtained dismissal of federal action seeking multimillion dollar finder's fee for sale of interest in Memphis oil refinery to Nigerian government. Decision affirmed on appeal.
• Obtained jury verdict in Alaska federal court against insurers to fund recovery of oil refinery's environmental cleanup costs.
• Defended against $60 million claim for oil shipments brought by Iranian oil company against U.S. oil company in four separate federal actions in and three appeals. Obtained summary judgment or dismissal in all actions


Commercial Disputes * Insurance Coverage Litigation * Consumer Class Actions 

FINRA Securities Arbitration * Intellectual Property Litigation

Justin Blitz, Esq. is a partner at Schulman Blitz, LLP.  He focuses on litigating all types of civil cases from inception to resolution. An experienced trial lawyer and skillful negotiator, Mr. Blitz is a tenacious adversary who consistently gets great results for his clients regardless of the case or the challenges presented.

Mr. Blitz has tried cases throughout the state of New York and obtained many substantial jury verdicts. He believes that the best results are achieved when every case is meticulously prepared for trial and this philosophy has enabled him to obtain scores of favorable settlements in all kinds of actions.

Mr. Blitz began his career under the tutelage of renowned trial attorney Richard E. Shandell at one of the nation's most prestigious plaintiffs' personal injury and medical malpractice firms. Distinguishing himself as a skillful litigator with a dynamic personality, Mr. Blitz successfully managed a large caseload of complex and high-profile negligence actions. He became known as an able trial lawyer and expert negotiator who successfully resolved hundreds of cases in arbitration, mediation, courtroom negotiation, and trial.

Mr. Blitz has established himself as one of the "go to" trial attorneys for other New York lawyers in the State that seek trial counsel on their most severe injury cases.  Many law firms throughout the State hire Mr. Blitz to try to verdict their most catastrophic injured clients' law suits.  This is due to his superb track record and prior verdict results.

Mr. Blitz is a member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association (NYSTLA). He is a past chairman of NYSTLA’s Young Lawyers Committee. In addition to NYSTLA, Mr. Blitz is a member of several other bar associations, including the American Association for Justice.

When not in the courtroom, Mr. Blitz lectures at Continuing Legal Education seminars throughout the country.  He has lectured on a variety of topics including courtroom technology, trial tips and techniques, and strategies for maximizing the value of personal injury lawsuits.

Mr. Blitz has been selected to the “Super Lawyers” list of “Rising Stars” for the years 2014 and 2015.

Many of Mr. Blitz's cases have been chronicled in the New York media including articles and stories in The New York Post, The New York Times, CBS News, Telemundo and Noticero.

Mr. Blitz is a native of New York City and a graduate of Columbia Prep High School and the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. He received his legal training at New York Law School. He is admitted to practice law in the courts of the State of New York and in the United States District Court for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.

At Schulman Blitz, LLP, Mr. Blitz litigates a wide variety of civil suits with an emphasis on motor vehicle collisions, negligent security, municipal liability, medical malpractice, labor law, negligent supervision and all types of premises liability.

Sari Gabay-Rafiy works closely with entrepreneurs and established brands as outside legal counsel on transactions and litigations.  She tailors employment and non-compete agreements, sales and commission agreements, entertainment and publishing contracts and commercial leases to meet each client’s needs from retail and e-commerce businesses to insurance salesmen and fashion designers.     

Sari is seasoned in intellectual property rights, and obtains trademark and copyright registrations and enforces and protects those rights through cease and desist letters, licensing, distributorship and marketing agreements. 

Sari litigates civil cases in New York state and federal courts involving infringement, breach of confidentiality or non-competes, breach of contract, and fraud.  She also assists with violations from the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Department of Buildings, and other New York City and State agencies.

Sari is a go-to insurance regulatory lawyer representing insurance agents, brokers and public adjusters in Department of Financial Services’ investigations, complaints, and hearings and in relicensing applications.  She represents sellers and purchasers of insurance agencies and other businesses.  Sari also reviews and interprets insurance policies and advises policyholders in insurance coverage disputes. Sari stays on top of insurance industry news as a Contributor for the Insurance Advocate magazine.

Prior to 2006, Sari was a Senior Litigator in Proskauer Rose LLP’s Litigation and Dispute Resolution Department where she was on the legal team representing the policyholder, Silverstein Properties, in the property damage and business interruption insurance litigation arising out of the collapse of the Twin Towers.  Sari was part of the Trademark and False Advertising Group and the Law Firm Advisory Practice Group and also handled a variety of litigation matters.

Sari is a frequent faculty speaker for Continuing Legal Education courses and motivational seminars for new attorneys.

Mr. Raimondi is the founder of Raimondi Law, P.C., a law firm dedicated to the needs of small and midsize businesses located on Long Island and the five boroughs of New York City. Mr. Raimondi routinely counsels business owners in industries including nutraceutical, construction, real estate development, e-commerce, financial services, insurance, fashion, movie production, transportation, and interior design.

Mr. Raimondi is an experienced litigator having handled numerous cases in state and federal courts  in  New York,  New  Jersey,  Michigan  and  Texas.  Over  the  course  of  his career he has successfully represented clients in litigations involving master supply agreements, licensing agreements, business disputes arising out of succession planning issues, intellectual property disputes, fraud, and breach of contract. Mr. Raimondi' s experience is not limited to litigation, he also acts handles transactional work and acts as "in-house counsel" for many of his corporate clients.

Prior to founding Raimondi Law, P.C., Mr. Raimondi was a senior associate in the  litigation and dispute resolution department of Proskauer Rose, LLP, in the firm's New York office. During his tenure at Proskauer , Mr. R aim ondi gained valuable knowledge and experience representing multi-national companies in trademark protection and anti-counterfeiting, insurance coverage disputes and securities litigations.

Abe Hsuan is a founding partner of Irwin & Hsuan LLP, a law firm in New York City, where in addition to the firm’s corporate transactional work, Mr. Hsuan specializes in advising private equity and start-up clients in the areas of Internet, technology, data management and privacy laws.  He has been a senior executive and chief legal officer of major online and traditional media companies (Oxygen Media, LinkShare), a Managing Director of an multi-national early-stage technology venture fund/incubator (VennWorks) and a senior associate at the international law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton.  Mr. Hsuan is also a co-founder and non-executive chair of Plus Machines, an early-stage joint venture which marries its two founding entities’ smart design and smart machines to build cross-lingual, semantic analytics tools and natural language communication components for data-intensive environments.  He is an advisor for two EU-funded research projects including the xLike project on cross-lingual media monitoring and machine translation.  He has spoken widely on the intersection of law and Big Data in the areas of privacy, copyright, and online education, including as a keynote at the 2011 European Semantic Web Conference.  His talks can be found at  He has been a member of the Association of Corporate Counsel (serving on its Technology Committee), the International Trademark Association, the American Intellectual Property Law Association.  He was honored by the New York County Lawyers’ Association in 2005 as a celebrated lawyer of color.  Mr. Hsuan received an A.B. degree from Princeton University and a J.D. from New York University School of Law.