Goldberg Segalla LLP

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Breweries, Wineries, and Distilleries

Half a millennium ago, many brewers had only one law to worry about: the Reinheitsgebot. The “German Purity Law” was stringent — setting limits on pricing and restricting brewers to using only hops, barley, and water — but it shaped a relatively simple set of expectations compared to the complicated legal landscape brewers, vintners, and distillers face today.

Goldberg Segalla’s Breweries, Wineries, and Distilleries Practice Group brings together a diverse group of attorneys skilled in corporate law, transactions, intellectual property, food and beverage law, employment issues, and complex commercial litigation. Just as important, these attorneys — all creative thinkers and discerning drinkers — are enthusiastic about startup culture and entrepreneurship, deeply invested in local and regional economic issues, and experienced in helping all varieties of businesses chart sustainable growth to meet expanding customer demands.

Starting Up: Legal Services, Distilled
Many successful wine, beer, and spirits brands start when highly skilled hobbyists make a leap of faith — and a significant investment. We understand the daunting costs involved in starting a business, and we know where the money goes first: tanks, tuns, kettles, casks, and kegs; real estate for warehouses, production, and tasting rooms; and then operational overhead, supplies, and marketing. Entrepreneurs often think of legal needs last, or else rely on a lawyer, a friend of a friend, with no experience in the licensing and sale of alcoholic beverages, transactions, corporate law, employment, insurance, or risk management.

And often, it’s for good reason. Law firms qualified to handle this kind of work have been slow to recognize the American boom in brewing and distilling. More comfortable dealing with banks and major corporations, they have failed to learn about the business models, growth patterns, and pain points of brewers, distillers, and vintners. Most importantly, they expect entrepreneurs in these challenging fields to pay Big Law, Big Business rates for services they don’t need.

Our model is different.

We’re qualified and equipped to help breweries, wineries, and distilleries with complex needs, big budgets, and international distribution networks. But because we’ve studied your industry from the ground floor, and learned step-by-step assisting other startup operations, we’ve been able to identify and distill the services that entrepreneurs need to begin operations and set themselves on the path to success — and we package them at rates our startup clients can afford. These services include:

  • Corporate formation
  • Identifying and securing financing or investment capital
  • Shareholder and ownership agreements
  • Obtaining new state and/or local retail alcoholic beverage licenses
  • Obtaining federal and state licenses and permits for manufacturers and wholesalers of wine, beer, and spirits
  • Federal and state compliance and trade practice guidance for retail licensees
  • Drafting and reviewing distribution agreements between manufacturers and wholesalers
  • Counsel and representation for Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Law violations
  • Trademark registration and protection
In addition, we’re happy to leverage our industry connections and make introductions to trusted professionals in accounting, insurance, marketing, and other fields.

Barrel-Aged: Meeting Your Maturing Needs
Beers, wines, and spirits mature. So do businesses. For both, the process heightens complexity and brings growth-stages when timing, conditions, and close attention mean everything.

As your business grows, your legal needs will mature along with it. Distribution agreements, intellectual property management, and real estate deals will be crucial for sustainable success; employment policies and practices can either foster a reliable and happy workforce or plant the seeds for disputes and legal headaches in the future; and expanding customer demands will draw you into new markets and new opportunities, along with new regulatory obligations.

As your legal needs mature, we’ll be at your side. Our team is equipped to anticipate risks, manage immediate concerns, and help you lay the groundwork for continued success. Our services cover every scenario and requirement a growing brewery, winery, or distillery might face. They include:

Growing your business:

  • Licensing with state authorities and/or local authorities
  • Reporting changes in existing retail alcoholic beverage licensed premises
  • Commercial real estate and leasing
  • Contract negotiation
  • Drafting standard forms for high-volume transactions (like purchase orders, processing forms, and service agreements)
  • Bottle labelling regulation compliance
  • Advising on borrowing transactions with banks and private lenders
  • Distribution agreements
  • Guidance on state franchise laws
Employment and labor:

  • Employment contracts, including non-compete clauses
  • Employment policies, including paid time off, family leave, and benefits
  • Employee handbooks
  • Human resources counseling and training
  • Licensing procedures for bouncers
  • Contracts for third-party security providers
  • Ensuring compliance with the Age Discrimination Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, Occupational Safety and Health Act, and other laws and regulations
  • Representation before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Occupation Safety and Health Administration, and the New York State and New Jersey Divisions of Human Rights, as well as in state and federal courts
  • Wage and hour claims and related litigation
  • Workers’ compensation claims and related litigation
Intellectual property:

Filing and advising on patents, trade secrets, trademarks, and copyrights
Drafting and reviewing IP licensing agreements
Advising on cease and desist letters and other intellectual property-related communication from competitors
Liability and risk management:

  • Dram Shop liability training
  • Defense of personal injury claims
  • Defense of negligent hiring claims and counsel on security-related issues
  • Workplace safety and premises liability training
  • Counsel on insurance policies
  • Counsel on international regulatory standards
Our brewery, winery, and distillery clients also take comfort in Goldberg Segalla’s clout and prowess in litigation. Backed by a pioneering Intellectual Property team with an international reputation, powerhouse Workers’ Compensation and Employment and Labor practices, and a Commercial Litigation group repeatedly recognized in Chambers USA, we can handle and resolve any type of dispute that might entangle our clients and threaten their businesses.

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  • 5.0/5.0 Review for John M. Allen by a Associate on 05/04/16 in General Liability

    John is an excellent civil defense attorney. Most importantly, he seeks resolutions that are fair to the parties. This is a trait not often found in litigation matters. Given that John and I were on opposite sides of the fence in a recent case, my... Read more

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    John is an excellent civil defense attorney. Most importantly, he seeks resolutions that are fair to the parties. This is a trait not often found in litigation matters. Given that John and I were on opposite sides of the fence in a recent case, my comments stem from personal knowledge of this gentleman. Read less

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    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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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.


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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