Goldberg Segalla LLP

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Directors and Officers

Stakes and expectations have never been higher for directors and officers of leading corporations and nonprofits in nearly every industry. Uncertainty in the markets is exceeded only by uncertainty in the government agencies and regulatory schemes that watch over them; meanwhile, the news media attentively covers a steady stream directors, officers, executives, and board members of some of the world’s most prominent organizations taking their final bows, following the aggrieved investor and whistleblower lawsuits, government investigations, ethics inquiries, and enforcement actions that have become increasingly common.

Unlike any other professional group or stratum, directors and officers are answerable to parties above, below, and outside their organizations; issues that often begin elsewhere come to rest and roost in the C-suite; potential liabilities are numerous and complex. In this volatile environment, insurers, companies, boards of directors and their members, and corporate and nonprofit executives turn regularly to Goldberg Segalla to handle their director and officer (D&O) liability defense, and to counsel them through the perils and opportunities of the future.

D&O Counsel and Defense: Your Confidence When The Buck Stops
Comprising leading trial lawyers and commercial litigators with an exceptional breadth of knowledge, talent, and experience, our team successfully represents directors and officers in high-value disputes throughout the U.S., in both federal and state courts, and around the world, and acts as trusted counsel providing timely and proactive advice on the full spectrum of risk-avoidance issues and emerging concerns relevant to directors and officers in virtually any industry. Whenever events occur in the life of a company that could make shareholders, customers, employees, or regulators unhappy, or could otherwise catch the attention of plaintiffs’ lawyers, directors and officers and their D&O insurers count on Goldberg Segalla’s promise: We’ll be there and prepared when the buck stops.

Our D&O defense attorneys are ready to:

  • Advise on litigation and regulatory risk
  • Conduct internal investigations, and provide training to avoid pitfalls that can lead to litigation and regulatory action
  • Conduct pre-suit investigations and pre-trial settlement negotiations
  • Defend against regulatory investigations and enforcement by state and federal agencies
  • Litigate or arbitrate any dispute that cannot be resolved through negotiation or mediation in cases involving single-plaintiffs or class actions, as well as derivative actions
  • Provide guidance on compliance with the evolving data privacy requirements of companies and their officials in various industries
  • Resolve complex, high-exposure commercial and fraud-based disputes on behalf of businesses and their executives and board members
A-Plus Defense for the C-Suite
While our goal is to avoid litigation whenever possible, our attorneys prepare comprehensive, business-minded strategies to defend against any claims that plaintiffs or agencies do bring against our clients. We employ creative and results-oriented pre-suit negotiations and pre-answer motions to resolve disputes at the earliest possible stage. Experienced in navigating the complexities of conflicting interests of named defendants under the same insurance policy, and familiar from the outset with each client’s business operations and environment, we are also able to counsel senior executives on the legal and business dimensions of every possible defense strategy. This approach is based on regular communication and meaningful collaboration with each client, allowing us to work together to tailor and achieve cost-effective and efficient resolutions of all D&O disputes at every step along the way.

While no two D&O suits are the same, our lawyers have a broad base of experience in the traditional risks associated with:

  • Antitrust issues
  • Bankruptcy issues, including claims brought by trustees, liquidators, debtors-in-possession, or creditors’ or bondholders’ committees
  • Breach of duty of care
  • Breach of fiduciary duty
  • Business torts
  • Changes in corporate ownership
  • Class actions
  • Commercial fraud
  • Corporate or board-level wrongdoing
  • Employment and labor and employment practices claims and issues
  • Enforcement matters
  • Executive compensation
  • Failure to implement environmental controls
  • Illegal personal profit
  • Intellectual property and trade secrets
  • Inter-party disputes involving real estate investment trusts (REITs)
  • Initial public offerings (IPOs) or private offerings
  • Mergers and acquisitions (M&As) and strike suits
  • Ponzi schemes
  • Regulatory investigations
  • Representations and warranties
  • Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) charges and actions
  • Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) investigations
  • Securities and derivative lawsuits
  • Shareholder lawsuits
  • State-level regulatory issues
  • Theft and fraud, including financial fraud and fraudulent transfer claims
  • Trade practices
  • Whistleblower actions
Our D&O clients include both public and private companies, nonprofit entities, governmental divisions, investment trusts, limited and general partnerships, and homeowner’s associations. One of the areas in which our team is particularly adept is financial services, where companies and officials face civil and administrative litigation brought under federal and state banking, consumer, and securities laws and regulations. We bring not only extensive experience litigating claims involving these rules and statutes, but also a thorough understanding of the individualized concerns and nuanced needs of public as well as privately held financial institutions.

Risk and Litigation Avoidance
We take pride in our long-term relationships with directors, officers, and their companies and organizations. While director-defendants or their insurers often call on Goldberg Segalla to parachute into late-stage litigation when the stakes are highest, or to handle appeals of D&O matters after unfortunate trial results, many clients also recognize the value of our regular risk-avoidance counsel. Intimately engaged with issues at the frontiers of the D&O field, and actively engaged with our clients’ industries, our attorneys offer guidance on the full spectrum of corporate governance and compliance and other liability concerns that senior business executives might face, including:

  • Asset tilting and asset protection
  • Corporate law fiduciary duties
  • Employment agreement and severance arrangements
  • Employment practices liability
  • Equity and equity-based incentive plans
  • Informal and formal investigations by government agencies
  • Internal special litigation or audit committee investigations
  • Personal investment transactions
  • Securities law compliance, including compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley Act
  • Tax/estate planning and charitable planning
Leading the Field From Within
With a team that includes the current chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Professional Liability Insurance Committee (formerly the Professionals, Officers, and Directors Liability Committee), and many other prominent, top-tier commercial litigators, it’s no surprise that our Management and Professional Liability practice has earned the admiration of the executive class. Many Goldberg Segalla attorneys trained at AmLaw100 firms, but chose to advance their careers and bring their clients here, where they would have the support of over 400 other lawyers united by the same commitments to professionalism, creativity, and collaboration to provide each client with the best and most cost-effective legal services. These same attorneys drive the national-level discourse on trends and emerging issues impacting the D&O and financial institutions marketplace — as authors and lecturers who reach national audiences interested in D&O and other professional liability topics, as arbitrators and mediators who handle D&O cases, and as adjunct legal professors at universities across our firm’s 10-state footprint.

Many directors, officers, executives, and their insurers who come to Goldberg Segalla for defense or counsel already know this. But new clients are often surprised that our understanding of the unique issues they face extends far beyond the realm of theories and textbooks (even when we’ve pioneered the theories and written the textbooks). Clients benefit from a sensitivity and fluency that we’ve earned through real-world experience. Our team includes board members and trustees of insurance companies and nonprofits, founders and owners of diverse small businesses, former chief legal officers and in-house counsel in many industries, J.D./M.B.A.s and attorneys with other advanced specialty industry training, and even a few who cut their legal teeth growing up among the complicated mechanisms of large family-owned businesses.

We understand business, and we understand defense. Our Management and Professional Liability team provides unmatched capability and value when counseling and defending directors and officers, executives, and their respective enterprises.

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  • 5.0/5.0 Review for Michael Rubin by a Partner on 05/28/15 in Civil Litigation

    Mike is an excellent attorney, a strong client advocate and worthy adversary.

    Mike is an excellent attorney, a strong client advocate and worthy adversary. Read less

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  • 5.0/5.0 Review for Marc W. Brown by a Judge on 08/13/13 in Appellate Practice

    Mr Brown served as a law clerk at the Appellate Division, Fourth Dept., one of New York's intermediate appellate courts while I was Presiding Justice of that Court. His work was outstanding.

    Mr Brown served as a law clerk at the Appellate Division, Fourth Dept., one of New York's intermediate appellate courts while I was Presiding Justice of that Court. His work was outstanding. Read less

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Diversity

Both within our own firm and across the wider business and legal communities, Goldberg Segalla’s commitment to diversity is strong, sincere, and a critical component of our firm’s mission and culture. Our philosophy has always been that we hire people who are excellent at what they do, and even better human beings. Period. We feel we would be doing a disservice to our firm and to our clients if we didn’t include contributions from every available resource.


We are extremely proud that our commitment has received regional and national recognition for the innovative programs we have developed and the results we have been able to achieve. The following is a sampling of the firm-wide or individual honors we have received for implementing initiatives that make a difference:


  • George B. Vashon Innovator Award, Minority Corporate Counsel Association
  • MCCA Firm Affiliate Network
  • Vault/MCCA Commitment to Diversity
  • Community Service Award, Defense Research Institute
  • Good Works Award, American Bar Association Section of Litigation
  • Outstanding Committee Chair, ABA Section of Litigation
  • Diversity Trailblazer Award, New York State Bar Association
  • Legal Service Award, Minority Bar Association of Western New York
  • Lawyer of the Year, Bar Association of Erie County
  • Legal Community Leader Award, National Federation for Just Communities of Western New York
  • Diversity Excellence Award, Buffalo Niagara Human Resource Association
  • Value Award for Diversity, Leadership Buffalo
  • Western New York Game Changers, Buffalo Spree magazine

What we are most proud of, though, is that our efforts have shown significant results and continue to make a lasting impact on the lives of many.

Leadership and Action

To put our philosophy and commitment into practice, we have a Diversity Task Force, which includes our managing partner, in place to conceptualize and implement diversity-focused programs as well as give diversity a voice in our decision-making at the highest level. The individuals on this task force share the firm’s strong commitment to increasing diversity, and they use their unique experiences and backgrounds to support and advance that goal. The team meets regularly to create programs, schedule events, establish diversity initiatives both inside and outside of the firm, set long-term goals, and develop the strategy to recruit and retain people from diverse backgrounds.


The chair of our Diversity Task Force, Joseph M. Hanna, has spearheaded numerous diversity initiatives in various organizations and outreach programs, serves on several diversity-related committees, and is a frequent author and speaker on diversity. Among other positions, he is co-chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Young Lawyer Leadership Program, former chair of the association’s Minority Trial Lawyer Committee and its Special Committee on Human Rights, and former editor-in-chief of the ABA’s Minority Trial Lawyer; a 2014 fellow of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD); a past president of the Minority Bar Association of Western New York (MBAWNY) and the MBAWNY Foundation; and the Diversity Liaison for several committees at the 22,000-member DRI.


For more than a decade, Goldberg Segalla has proudly supported the ABA’s Judicial Internship Opportunity Program, which provides racial and ethnic minority law students, along with members of other groups underrepresented in the legal profession, opportunities to serve as an intern with a judge during the summer after their first or second year of law school. Joe Hanna — an alumni of the program himself — acts as a mentor and leader in the program, through which he has conducted more than 100 interviews for students across the country.

In 2017, Goldberg Segalla participated in the Thurgood Marshall Summer Law Internship Program, the New York City Bar Association’s flagship pipeline program for high school students. As a participating legal employer, we hosted high-achieving inner-city students for the summer and collaborate with the NYC Bar to provide them with additional programming before, during, and after the summer designed to help them prepare for a legal career.

Each summer, Goldberg Segalla proudly welcomes interns through a formal Diversity Clerkship Program that was conceived by Joe while he served as president of the MBAWNY. The program was developed in collaboration with the MBAWNY and the SUNY Buffalo Law School to provide opportunities for minority UB Law students to gain firsthand experience in the legal system. Since it was launched in 2011, the program has placed more than 100 students in clerkships in area courts as well as in several area law firms, with more judges and law firms asking to participate every day. It provides participants with an in-depth look at the legal process and the interaction between the bench and the bar that they would not otherwise get. At our firm, a dedicated team of partners monitors the work of these law clerks and ensures they obtain valuable experience to help develop important legal research, writing, case management, and client service skills critical to their long-term success. Our program earned the firm the Minority Corporate Counsel Association’s 2012 George B. Vashon Innovator Award.


We also have sponsored Success in the City, an annual diversity networking and mentoring event developed by Joe that brought together students, legal and business professionals, educators, nonprofits, and political leaders to make lasting partnerships. Many employment, business, and mentoring relationships resulted from this event. Past events have drawn more than 500 political and business leaders, legal professionals, and students. Success in the City has influenced the development of similar programs in Baltimore, Cleveland, Birmingham, Dallas, and elsewhere.


Our firm is committed to spreading the message throughout the broad legal and business communities that embracing diversity contributes to greater overall success. We conduct training sessions for in-house counsel at Fortune 500 corporations on increasing and promoting diversity. Our attorneys have authored articles and delivered presentations on diversity for various legal organizations, including DRI and the ABA, and our efforts and accomplishments in this area have been profiled in publications such as Law360, the New York State Bar Association’s State Bar News, Business First of Buffalo, the Buffalo Law Journal, and others.


In one example of our work to provide inspiration and raise awareness of diversity and women’s issues in the legal community, Caroline Berdzik, chair of our Employer and Labor Practice Group, spoke to Law360 for the publication’s “Female Powerbrokers” series. In the interview, Caroline discussed her career, the challenges of being a woman at a senior level at a law firm, the work-family life balance, and the importance of taking risks. She also offered guidance to female attorneys on moving their careers forward and advice to law firms on both increasing the number of women partners and retaining top female talent. Her longtime advocacy for women (at her previous firm, she served on the Women’s Business Development Committee and was a member of what became the national Women’s Presidents Organization) helped earn her a spot on the 2015 NJBIZ list of New Jersey’s Best 50 Women in Business.


Joe Hanna also was featured by Law360 in its “Minority Powerbrokers” series, in which he shared his perspective on breaking the glass ceiling in the legal industry, the challenges of being a lawyer of color at a senior level, how law firms can increase diversity in their partner ranks, and Goldberg Segalla’s core commitment to diversity.

Partnerships

Goldberg Segalla is proud to be a member of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association Firm Affiliate Network, which was created by the MCCA to assist and acknowledge law firms that are committed to advancing diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.


We are also a member of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD), a national organization of leaders in law firms and corporate legal departments dedicated to creating a truly diverse legal profession. As noted earlier, Joe Hanna was a fellow of the LCLD in 2014. In this position, he played a critical role in organizing the first-ever New York City LCLD Fellows Roundtable event, and he was instrumental in establishing a mentorship program in Hartford for local diverse first-year law students.


We support the diversity efforts of numerous organizations, including:

  • American Bar Association
  • Asian American Bar Association of New York
  • Columbian Lawyers Association
  • Defense Research Institute
  • Federal Bar Association
  • Korean American Association of Greater New York
  • League of First Nations
  • Minority Bar Association of Western New York
  • National Bar Association
  • Native American Rights Fund
  • National Association of Asian American Professionals
  • National Congress of American Indians
  • New York State Bar Association
  • Seneca Free Trade Association
  • SUNY Buffalo Law School
  • Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York

Our outreach efforts led to the creation of a comprehensive database of more than 500 minority law organizations throughout the United States. Contact between these organizations takes place in anticipation of bringing CLE and legal programs together. This group of minority bar associations includes both local and national organizations, such as:

  • National Association of Women Lawyers
  • National Association of Muslim Lawyers
  • Hispanic National Bar Association
  • National Asian Pacific American Bar
  • Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles
  • South Asian Bar Association of Philadelphia
  • Vietnamese American Bar Association of North Carolina

A Talented and Diverse Team

Diversity is further evident within our firm through the many languages and dialects spoken by members of our team, including Albanian, Arabic, Croatian, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Malayalam, Mandarin, Marathi, Norwegian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Tagalog, Tamil, Thai, and Urdu.


Goldberg Segalla’s culture is one that values team-spiritedness, collegiality, and interpersonal harmony within our working community. We are a firm that believes in diversity in the workplace, and we are proud to offer a professional and positive work environment for each and every member of our team.


On these values, and on our commitment to diversity, we will never waver. We are proud of what we have accomplished thus far, but we also realize that this is a long-term mission. We will continue to innovate and to improve diversity in law and business — both within Goldberg Segalla and across the communities in which we live and work.

Diversity Matters — Join the Conversation

If you have questions regarding any of the firm’s diversity initiatives or would like to discuss ideas regarding increasing diversity in the legal profession, please contact Joe Hanna (716.566.5447; [email protected]) or another member of our Diversity Task Force:

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