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Law Firm Leaders: Sher Tremonte’s Sher and Tremonte

Sher Tremonte co-founders Justin Sher and Michael Tremonte were recently profiled for Law360’s “Law Firm Leaders” series. The interview touched on a range of topics, including adapting during the COVID-19 pandemic, how the firm has been able to grow and innovate, and the changing role of technology. The legal field was transforming even before the coronavirus pandemic upended the business of law and every other industry this year. How has the firm adapted? Tremonte: Our firm in some ways exists because of changes in the legal industry. We started about 10 years ago when the country was just coming out of the financial crisis and boutiques were just starting to become a little more common, in part as a result of two forces. The startup costs have come down dramatically because of changes in technology. On the demand side, coming out of the crisis, clients were looking for very, very accomplished lawyers but there was pressure to do it efficiently, to deliver high-end legal services efficiently and economically. Sher: It was our investment in technology early on that allowed us to meet the demands of clients so we could be flexible — offer alternative billing arrangements, for example. Tremonte: Boutiques have also become attractive alternatives to highly talented younger lawyers particularly coming out of clerkships or out of starting their careers at larger firms or in government service. Very, very talented, highly credentialed, highly motivated younger lawyers now think of boutiques as a viable alternative to the BigLaw pathway. How do you envision the firm changing in the next few years? What are your goals? Sher: We expect to continue to grow organically the longer we're around. We're going to continue to find ourselves in larger matters. Our challenge is going to be allowing our junior lawyers to get really quick experience and grow while keeping our team small. We're going to have to pay close attention to make sure that the experience is distributed to all our associates. Tremonte: You're going to see, certainly in our shop and maybe across the profession, more flexibility when it comes to working remotely. We've found people can be extraordinarily productive and very well integrated even when they're working remotely. It's going to help people strike a better balance between work and their family lives. Read the full interview here.

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How I Made Partner: ‘Work Smart, Efficient and With Passion’ Advises Sher Tremonte’s Erica Wolff

Partner Erica Wolff was recently profiled for the Law Journal’s “How I Made Partner” series, which features a Q&A with newly minted partners. Read more from Erica about her own trajectory and the advice she has for associates who are looking to move up in their careers. What do you think was the deciding point for the firm in making you partner? I don’t think there was one “deciding point”—certainly not one specific case or event. I’ve been with the firm for five years now, and during that period I have had the opportunity to work closely with every single one of the partners. They each know my work across a variety of cases, working with clients of various sizes in many different industries and in numerous different contexts. I think what gave the firm the confidence to make me partner was the knowledge that I genuinely love to litigate, that I care about my clients deeply and am invested in getting them the best possible results (whether they are individuals, small businesses or multimillion-dollar companies) and that I am consistent in the attention to detail and quality of work I provide, regardless of the size or nature of the matter. Describe how you feel now about your career now that you’ve made partner. I feel genuinely honored to have been brought into the ranks of the partnership at Sher Tremonte. The partners here are among the smartest, most thoughtful and most dedicated lawyers I’ve ever met, and the fact that they trust me to provide our clients the same level of service they each give day in and day out has given me the confidence to keep doing what I love to do and take even more ownership over that work. In some ways, I feel that making partner has been a very satisfying reward for the hard work I’ve done over the years, but in more ways, I feel that it is really something of a new beginning. I’m so looking forward to developing new client relationships, deepening existing ones and building a practice that both strengthens the complex commercial practice our firm has already established and that also expands our existing docket to cover more media and First Amendment-related litigation. What’s the best piece of advice you could give an associate who wants to make partner? Before you answer any question posed to you by a partner or a client, think about how your answer can make that person’s job easier. Do the diligence to get it right every time, but own it when you don’t. And have the confidence to know what you don’t know. Read the full interview here.  

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11 Sher Tremonte Attorneys Named 2020 Super Lawyers

Eleven Sher Tremonte attorneys were named as 2020 New York Metro Super Lawyers or Rising Stars. Published annually, Super Lawyers identifies leading professionals who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and excellence in their practice areas. Sher Tremonte is proud of partners Michael Tremonte and Justine Harris for their individual achievements. Mr. Tremonte and Ms. Harris have both been recognized on the Top 100: 2020 New York — Metro Super Lawyers list. Ms. Harris has also been included in the Top 50: 2020 Women New York - Metro Super Lawyers list for the fourth consecutive year. Here is the complete list of Sher Tremonte partners, counsel, and associates named as 2020 Super Lawyers: Noam Biale, Associate Rising Star in Criminal Defense Mark Cuccaro, Partner Super Lawyer in Business Litigation Justin Gunnell, Counsel Rising Star in Business Litigation Justine Harris, Partner Super Lawyer in Criminal Defense: White Collar Yonatan Jacobs, Associate Rising Star in Business Litigation Robert Knuts, Partner Super Lawyer in Securities Litigation Kimo Peluso, Partner Super Lawyer in Business Litigation Justin Sher, Partner Super Lawyer in Business Litigation Michael Tremonte, Partner Super Lawyer in Business Litigation Theresa Trzaskoma, Partner Super Lawyer in Criminal Defense: White Collar Erica Wolff, Partner Rising Star in Business Litigation

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Sher Tremonte Secures Release for Clients During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc for all of us, but among the most vulnerable are the hundreds of thousands of our citizens who are incarcerated. Through our individual representations and leadership in the defense community, Sher Tremonte has been active in addressing the challenges and dangers of the virus in jails and prisons since the outset of the pandemic. Jails and prisons—tightly packed facilities where social distancing is incredibly difficult, if not impossible—have been hotbeds of COVID-19 outbreaks. Studies have found that correctional facilities have a higher number of cases and deaths than the general population. Many incarcerated people suffer from pre-existing medical conditions that make them particularly susceptible to contracting the virus.  The inability to social distance, coupled with medically vulnerable individuals, is a worst-case scenario that puts countless lives at risk. When the pandemic hit, Sher Tremonte immediately began advocating for our clients and get those who were vulnerable out from behind bars – seeking bail for clients in pretrial detention and compassionate release, a new legal mechanism provided by the First Step Act, for clients serving sentences in federal custody.  In six different cases, the Firm has been successful in securing safety for our clients.  In May, partner Michael Tremonte and associate Noam Biale secured compassionate release for Alberto Pena, a 60-year-old man who was incarcerated in a federal prison in New Jersey which had dozens of COVID-19 cases.  Judge Alison Nathan in the Southern District of New York ordered his release due to the “extraordinary danger” he faced.  In April, partner Justine Harris obtained compassionate release for Basil Hansen, a 72-year-old client who had served 12 years of a 20-year sentence for a non-violent drug offense.  Despite vehement objection from the government, Judge Kiyo Matsumoto in the EDNY agreed that given his frail health condition, extraordinary and compelling reasons warranted his release. Sher Tremonte also took a leading role in connecting lawyers with the right resources to support these petitions. Through the Women’s White Collar Defense Association, Ms. Harris, with help from Sher Tremonte associate Heather Yu Han and paralegals Jennifer Lara and Avital Fried, supported lawyers across the country by compiling a resource bank with sample petitions, caselaw and data. An interview with Ms. Harris featuring her leadership efforts can be found here. Ms. Harris also served as a panelist for CLE seminars hosted by the Federal Bar Council and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and continues to serve as pro bono resource counsel for the NACDL/FAMM Compassionate Release Clearinghouse Project.  Finally, as vice-chair of the Board of the Federal Defenders of New York, Ms. Harris has worked to recruit and train pro bono counsel to take on compassionate release cases. As the virus continues to spread throughout our communities, and the risk of infection within jails and prisons shows no sign of abating, this work is not over. Sher Tremonte is committed to protecting those who are most vulnerable during this public health crisis.

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Sher Tremonte Secures Victory For Staten Island Parents

Sher Tremonte recently helped the parents of two special needs students in Staten Island fight back against a New York City Department of Education (DOE) decision to relocate their children to a new school. This matter is part of the firm’s commitment to a robust set of pro bono casework to help New Yorkers in need. In January, the DOE’s Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) voted to send some students at P.S. 37, a school specifically designated for students with disabilities, to a new general education program nearly an hour and a half away. Moving these students away from P.S. 37 and into a new learning environment unable to meet their needs would have been harmful to their education. Justin Gunnell of Sher Tremonte challenged the validity of the PEP’s voting process and threatened further legal action if the PEP failed to revise the decision. The firm also worked with the family to develop an advocacy strategy that included attending community meetings and enlisting the support of local elected officials. In response, the district Superintendent formalized a new policy that reversed the planned relocation and guaranteed every student at P.S. 37 a seat. Families can rest easy knowing their children can continue to learn at a school that will allow them to thrive.

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Sher Tremonte Earns Rankings in Chambers USA 2020

Sher Tremonte is pleased to announce that Chambers and Partners USA has ranked the firm and partners Theresa Trzaskoma and  Justine Harris in the Chambers USA 2020: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business Guide. The firm has been ranked as a Specialist Firm in White Collar Crime and Government Investigations in New York, an exclusive list including only 10 other law firms. Ms. Trzaskoma and Ms. Harris were individually recognized among the leading white collar practitioners in New York City. Chambers describes Sher Tremonte’s white collar practice as a “go-to group” with a “talented bench.” Chambers also notes that the firm is “[f]requently called on by boards and executives from across the market” because of its “notable expertise handling investigations.”  

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Sher Tremonte Wins Reversal in Second Circuit Appeal Involving Employment Dispute

On March 10, 2020, Sher Tremonte and Paul Weiss, as co-counsel, won a precedent-setting victory on employment rights in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. An employee of a Connecticut police department alleged employment discrimination after being forced to resign.  The district court granted summary judgment and dismissed the plaintiff’s claim based on its conclusion that the plaintiff was not constructively discharged because she had chosen to resign rather than proceed with a disciplinary hearing.  On appeal, Jennifer X. Luo of Sher Tremonte successfully argued that, even though there was no direct threat of termination by the plaintiff’s employer, the employee was constructively discharged based on the totality of circumstances.  The Second Circuit agreed and found that “neither an absolute statement nor a direct communication by an ultimate decisionmaker” is required for constructive discharge to take place.  Rather, the Second Circuit held that constructive discharge may be implied, and an employee’s decision to resign in the absence of express threats can constitute adverse employment action. Read the full decision here. A Law360 article on the decision is available here.

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Sher Tremonte Obtains $50 Million Judgment

On February 11, 2020, Sher Tremonte obtained a $50 million judgment on behalf of its client, a Singapore-based investment advisory firm focused on sustainable development in the hospitality and real estate industries.  The judgment followed five years of litigation over the investment advisory firm’s claims of breach of contract, tortious interference, fraud, and unjust enrichment arising from the $358 million acquisition of the international luxury hotel chain, Aman Resorts.  The case was handled by partners Justin Sher and Erica Wolff.  Read the judgment here.  Read the Fortune article about the dispute here:  The Global Battle for the Ultimate Luxury Hotel Chain.

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Sher Tremonte Wins Preliminary Injunction Compelling Insurance Company to Fund Tech CEO’s Defense

On February 4, 2020, the Commercial Division of the New York County Supreme Court granted a motion for a preliminary injunction filed by Sher Tremonte on behalf of its client, a former CEO of a technology firm. Sher Tremonte’s client initiated the action seeking to compel an insurance provider to defend and indemnify her under a Directors and Officers liability policy. The Hon. O. Peter Sherwood found that Sher Tremonte’s client had established a high likelihood that coverage is required under the policy and that the insurer should therefore pay defense costs pending a final decision in the case. The case was handled by Sher Tremonte partners Theresa Trzaskoma and Mark Cuccaro.

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Sher Tremonte Promotes Erica Wolff to Partner

Sher Tremonte is pleased to announce that Erica A. Wolff has been promoted to Partner.

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