Goldberg Segalla LLP

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Integrated Disability and Workforce Management Program

Workers’ compensation claims, employee health care, reasonable accommodation and leave management policies, compliance with state and federal regulations, litigation, and transactional matters — all these challenges and costs are part of the operational landscape for employers competing in any industry. Unfortunately, most employers are not equipped to treat these issues like a landscape — that is, with adaptable, efficient, and global solutions. In reality, all of these concerns are intricately connected; but when in-house counsel, administrators, and outside attorneys from different specialist or “Big Law” firms tackle them separately, the byproducts are often cost-inefficiencies, liability, and greater risk.

We developed the Integrated Disability and Workforce Management Program to mitigate those costs and correct those inefficiencies. The program offers comprehensive solutions to disability, leave, performance, and health management issues, adaptable to any situation, any budget, and any set any of needs. Drawing selectively on the full scope of our firm’s collective experience — with nearly 400 outstanding attorneys ready to weigh in and assist with countless highly specialized concerns — we are able to provide our clients with a 360-degree assessment, address inefficiencies, and craft comprehensive and cost-efficient solutions.

Integrated Services for Integrated Goals
Our superior service begins with developing an intimate understanding of each client’s business model, immediate needs, and long-term objectives. We understand that every business decision our clients make derives from the complex interplay of many factors — including company culture and risk appetite, government regulations and court decisions, and long-range strategic planning and budget priorities. Because of that, we are committed to packaging our cost-effective and adaptable services according to comprehensive strategies integrated seamlessly with each client’s overall business goals, and shaped by an understanding and appreciation of the many factors that decide these goals.

Workforce Management Goals

  • Regulate health care expenses
  • Improve productivity and performance
  • Reduce costs associated with absent or low-performing employees
  • Create a culture that encourages employee health, safety, and wellness
  • Lower the risk of employment litigation
  • Mitigate direct and tangential exposure relating to legal claims
Strategy-Tailored Services

  • Audit existing disability, leave, and health management programs
  • Draft policies and guidelines to improve the processing and management of leave requests, accommodations, and employee benefits
  • Ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations
  • Train key personnel on best practices, program administration, and compliance obligations
  • Provide legal advice for any issue, including workers’ compensation benefits, leave requests, accommodation, termination of employment, and employee-related cyber risks
  • Defend any legal claim or challenge to an Integrated Disability & Workforce Management Program decision
The Global Approach to Employment Policies and Compliance Obligations
Avoiding enforcement actions, investigations and regulatory procedures, and costly employee litigation requires an encyclopedic understanding and deft navigation of overlapping federal, state, and local laws, as well as an employer’s own benefit programs. We accomplish this though a client-tailored, team-driven, cost-effective, and global approach. Our attorneys draft and analyze disability, leave, performance, and other employment policies, aiming to decrease costs and liabilities and increase administrative and operational efficiency while ensuring compliance with:

  • American with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)
  • Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)
  • Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
as well as state and local laws pertaining to:

  • Workers’ compensation
  • Paid family leave
  • Parental leave
  • Short- and long-term disability
  • Medical marijuana
By integrating our services in these areas — guidance on compliance and government or regulatory investigations as well as counsel on employment and benefits policies — we are able to offer comprehensive, practical advice regarding employers’ legal obligations, and provide guidance and solutions on how best to incorporate and administer company-provided benefits, including health management, paid time-off, return to work, transitional duty, and disability programs.

Defense in 360 Degrees: Litigating Entangled Claims and Disputes
Even the most comprehensive risk management efforts — through employee training, workplace safety measures, compliance checks, and cautious policy drafting — cannot guarantee protection from damaging, distracting, and expensive litigation. Employers with the most proactive and global approach to workforce management issues still may face one, some, or all of the following:

  • Workers’ compensation or disability benefits claims before administrative agencies
  • Employment discrimination, personal injury, or general liability lawsuits in state court
  • Arbitration proceedings alleging violations of contracts or collective bargaining agreements
  • Lawsuits in federal court alleging civil rights violations — including FMLA retaliation or interference, or a failure to reasonably accommodate a disability under the ADA
The claims often result in overlapping litigation, stemming from a single dispute or related disputes. Taking an isolated approach to these interconnected issues increases the time and money employers spend on litigation and prevents them from resolving disputes with minimal cost, delay, and business disruption.

Our experienced, trial-tested attorneys stand ready to defend to your interests in any type of employment-related litigation, and our Integrated Disability and Workforce Management Program ensures that we will do so with a single, coordinated approach designed to accomplish your goals in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. Doing so allows us to collaborate on the defense of multiple claims arising out of a common dispute, offering our clients a single partner to assist on all matters.

One Team — Your Team
We’re proud of the value that our clients have found in our creative solutions, all shaped by our philosophy of client-first, collaborative, cost-effective service. A few examples of the benefits of our integrated, global approach include:

  • Defending an employer in associated workers’ compensation and employment discrimination claims, using the claimant’s contradictory testimony in each proceeding to secure a dismissal of the discrimination claim, and a de minimis settlement of the workers' compensation claim
  • Defending an employer in associated workers compensation and personal injury claims, using the claimant’s testimony in the workers’ compensation claim to defeat the general liability claim for a back injury
  • Defending an employer in associated workers compensation and personal injury claims, and negotiating a favorable settlement of the personal injury matter which we leveraged to virtually extinguish the value of the workers' compensation claim without a lump sum payment
  • Counseling an employer on how properly to discharge an underperforming employee who was out of work following a workers’ compensation claim, while complying with its state Workers’ Compensation Law, as well as applicable federal laws such as the ADA and FMLA
  • Advising an employer of its obligations, and providing practical tips for accommodating a workers’ compensation claimant with additional medical restrictions arising out of a non-occupational injury
With a wealth of practical experience across a full spectrum of practice areas, the lawyers on the GS Integrated Disability and Workforce Management team are capable of handling any disability or workforce-related claim before the state and federal courts and administrative agencies throughout our geographic footprint, as well as those contested in arbitration proceedings and other dispute-resolution forums.

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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.

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    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.

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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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