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Cardozo Graduates Join Forces at Law Firm

(From left) Jerry Cohen ’86, founding partner; Ziva Cohen ’02, associate; Andrea Lawrence ’94, partner; Leo Esses ’99, associate; and Joe Vann ’87, partner.

On the 24th floor of The Graybar Building, above the bustle of Midtown, a rising law firm founded by a Cardozo alumnus moved to its new offices in April 2003. Three of the eight partners at the firm and two associates are Cardozo graduates. Jerry Cohen ’86 leads the 21-attorney firm of Cohen Tauber Spievack & Wagner LLP (CTSW), a successful legal venture that embodies the ambitious and entrepreneurial spirit of Cardozo and its graduates. The firm is made up of young, driven attorneys who are building something extraordinary together—an opportunity they might have missed had they remained with their previous firms.

Jerry Cohen started his career at Botein Hayes & Sklar. After some years in various legal and business ventures, including three years at a corporate boutique firm and a stint with his own start-up company, Jerry opened a solo practice. He soon realized he wanted to build a firm and brought in Larry Tauber as his partner in 1998. The two then embarked on expanding into a full-service practice, and just a few years later, Cohen Tauber Spievack & Wagner was born.

“Cardozo gave me the training and confidence to take risks and to build a new model of a law firm— one that not only counsels and guides its clients, but also helps grow their businesses,” says Jerry. “We are passionate and devoted to our clients, and we’re not afraid to get in the trenches alongside them.”

Jerry’s ambitious nature is what drew him to Cardozo. The Law School’s image as young and exciting was a good fit for his personality. In fact, each of the alumni at CTSW commented on the entrepreneurial nature of Cardozo students.

Joe Vann ’87 is chair of CTSW’s flourishing bankruptcy and creditors’ rights group. After graduation, Joe clerked for the Honorable Alan H.W. Shiff, spent six years as an associate in the bankruptcy and creditors’ rights group at Shea & Gould and, thereafter, Herrick, Feinstein LLP. After two years as a partner in Gratch Jacobs & Brozman’s bankruptcy group, Joe joined CTSW, where he knew he would find top-tier attorney backup for his sophisticated transaction and litigationoriented bankruptcy practice. At CTSW, he has represented hedge funds and other purchasers of bankruptcy assets, financial institutions in workouts and bankruptcies, and the official committees in a number of cases, including Service Merchandise, Inc. and Kmart, Inc.

“CTSW’s success is directly attributable to our guiding philosophy to focus on the client’s needs at all times,” says Joe. “Whether litigation or corporate deal, we bring home the prize for the client by focusing on its business goal.”

Andrea Lawrence ’94, a litigation partner, joined the firm in 2001 after practicing law at Tenzer Greenblatt LLP where she focused her practice on commercial real estate litigation, and served as a contributing author to several legal treatises dealing with real estate issues.

Andrea is thrilled with her career decision. “CTSW afforded me the chance to get in on the ground floor of an up-and-coming, cutting- edge law firm. Once I became a part of the CTSW team, I never looked back.”

As one of the hiring partners, Andrea looks out for fellow alumni when filling the firm’s hiring needs. “Time and time again, I am impressed by the talent, ambition, and professionalism of Cardozo graduates.”

CTSW continues to live up to its reputation as a fast-paced firm composed of business lawyers who make deals happen. Only five years old, it has grown from four to twenty-one lawyers, and is known as a top-notch firm in practice areas such as pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, aerospace and satellite technology, software licensing, entertainment and motion picture production, and insurance and tradesecret litigation. CTSW’s clients represent a diverse spectrum, including the Irish Development Agency and Israeli Aircraft Industries, Bar Ilan University and the Royal College of Surgeons, UBS Paine Webber, and elite international biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.

Leo Esses ’98 was the first associate hired at CTSW and enjoys being at a smaller firm. While associates at big firms prepare materials for senior attorneys, Leo is making court appearances and conducting depositions.

The firm in many ways parallels Cardozo in its rising reputation; both institutions are young and ambitious, with leaders who are determined to achieve success, and many stakeholders who participate each day in the upward mobility of their institutions.

The latest Cardozo hire is Ziva Cohen ’02. “I’m amazed with the firm’s achievements,” she said. “Here, I enjoy extensive client contact and courtroom experience and the opportunity to grow, both as an attorney and as part of the firm. There is a real dynamic spirit here, and I am proud to be a part of it.”