Why newly-minted lawyers are practicing in upstate New York data recovery uk

As with every other baseball game her eldest son played in, Christopher "C.J." Babiarz’s mother was there in the bleachers in their hometown of Auburn. It was an image he would recall years later whenever he was feeling overwhelmed at Albany Law School or while he was studying for the universal bar exam.

More than a decade later, Babiarz, 26, practices workers compensation and personal injury law at the Ithaca firm where his mother is a partner. It’s not far from home and, fortunately for Babiarz, close to Greek Peak, where he enjoys snowboarding on Fridays after he leaves the office.

Babiarz is one of about 2,700 lawyers working in upstate New York who’ve registered with the state court system in the last five years and begun their careers in private, public and nonprofit sector law firms across the Southern Tier. Many say they have found in the region a favorable work-life balance, specialization and opportunity to grow in their craft.


Nearly one-third of all lawyers in the state database of lawyers based in New York and currently registered were added to the list between 2008 and 2017. The number of registered lawyers ranges from 69,235 in Manhattan (New York County) to 15 in Hamilton County.

Michelle McCabe-Szczepanski starts her day at 8:30 a.m. in her office at Levene Gouldin & Thompson, LLP in Vestal, a few miles from where the 25-year-old graduated high school at Maine-Endwell. She sips her coffee while checking the usual barrage of emails, then starts researching one of the firm’s family law cases for a partner on the firm’s digital legal research program.

"We see on TV one very specific field," said Nicole DeAnda, 31, who’s a lawyer at the Elmira office of Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc. and a graduate of Ave Maria School of Law. "I never had any interest in doing any kind of big law. In the legal field, there’s so many different aspects to it."

"It really helps that they’re open to so many different things," said Stacey Wiley, director of career services at Syracuse University College of Law. "There’s a diverse range of where our students end up. If every person wants to end up at big law firms, they can’t."

“Syracuse students come from all over the country and end up in a wide variety of practice settings and locations," she said. "In regard to our [Juris Doctor] grads who intend to take the New York bar, an increasing number of them are seeking positions in the New York Metro area, while a decent percentage choose upstate New York. Other favored destinations include D.C., Philadelphia, New Jersey, Chicago, Texas and California, where more of our students are coming from and returning to every year.”

For this new crop of attorneys, beginning their careers in the relatively smaller communities of upstate New York, and doing so at a time when technology has sped up every aspect of the job — if you see a bookcase filled with heavy law books at a firm today, they’re pure decoration, it’s all been replaced by digital libraries — can offer prized work-life balance.

Chemung County Assistant District Attorney Sophie Marmor, 30, enjoys golf, and the rolling hills of the Southern Tier offer more accessible courses — several dozen within an hour-long drive — than she’d ever find in a big city’s concrete jungle.

"The legal market in the city is a real rat race," said Marmor, who interned in New York City after she graduated from its Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. "I knew I wanted to do public service law. Public-sector jobs today are extremely competitive."

In the Chemung County District Attorney’s office she’s found a smaller, welcoming environment with face-to-face time with dedicated mentors, who’ve helped further her career since her first trial, a bench trial District Attorney Weeden Wetmore spent an hour sitting with Marmor to prep for.

At Hinman, Howard & Kattell, young associates are assigned a proctor, Vitanza said, to not only teach them how to work with clients and legal proceedings, but to help them assess their workload, get to know the community, even figure out where to get a car loan.

At Ithaca’s Schlather, Stumbar, Parks & Salk, Jake McNamara, 34, says Ray Schlather, a partner of the firm, has been a big inspiration for him ever since he was working summers at the firm during his law school years at University at Buffalo School of Law.

McNamara also operates on a flexible schedule. He may have a 40-hour work week immediately followed by a 55-hour work week, but as a father of two, that variance is an advantage, he says, because it gives him and his wife, admissions director at the graduate school at Cornell University, freer reign over their family’s schedule.

Those who’ve recently finished the grind of three years of law school, are still paying back student loans and have endured the Herculean task of studying for the bar — McCabe-Szczepanski calls that chore the worst thing she’s ever had to do — have come out on the other side truly enjoying their careers.

"They bring a different value paradigm to the industry," said 44-year-old Sheldon Smith, of Orchard Park, who’s a partner with Harter Secrest & Emery LLP, which has an office in Corning. "Life-work balance. These millenials are very savvy that way."

So while Southern Tier lawyers might be able to ascend in their careers more quickly — spending less time competing with the rest of the big pool in large metro areas for entry level jobs and more time working one-on-one with seasoned attorneys — it’s not a job to be fickle about.

In Stories to Share, reporter Katie Sullivan spends time with the Southern Tier’s most fascinating people. She’s looking for stories that will make you laugh, cry or be inspired. Know of someone who should be featured? Email her at ksullivan@pressconnects.com, and follow her on Twitter @ByKatieSullivan.

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