For years, local economists have lamented the loss of young professionals lured away from Rochester by job opportunities in larger metropolitan cities.
This trend, many claim, has created a dearth of talent and forced industry leaders and businesses to settle for a less qualified workforce.
The partners at Leclair Korona Cole LLP argue otherwise.
“We find that many attorneys are anxious to come to Rochester because they can settle down and build a career here — and pay off their college debt,” said Steve Cole, managing partner of the civil litigation firm located in downtown Rochester.
The three founding attorneys of Leclair Korona Cole LLP just welcomed two additional partners, Jeremy Sher and Stacey Trien. They each had different reasons for choosing Rochester, yet both are litigators who brought a wealth of experience to the local legal community. Some might call this a career calibration or “brain drain” in reverse.
“Millenials and Gen X’ers appreciate the value of work/life balance which can be attained in Rochester. Legal cases can be just as fulfilling here as in a big city and young people can afford a 2,000-square-foot house for about the same amount of rent they pay for a tiny apartment elsewhere,” said Cole.
In 2011, Sher and his wife, Katherine, were rising stars at high-powered law firms in New York City. They were both were so career-focused that they did not notice the cramped conditions of their one-bedroom apartment — until after their twins were born.
“At first the babies were so small, they could sleep in one crib,” said Sher. “But soon they were moving and crawling and the system of gates and plastic walls we had created just wasn’t enough to corral them.”
Within a year, the family had settled in Pittsford. Katherine stayed home with the children at first, and Sher took an associate’s position at Leclair Korona Cole. Sher was worried that leaving New York City would impact their careers negatively.
“We thought we would end up sacrificing the quality of our work in the move, but we were wrong,” said Sher. “By moving to Rochester, we could afford a house with a nice yard, plus when Kate went back to work, she too found a terrific job and was very successful.”
Sher took on litigation in areas of law he had never handled before, such as commercial evictions, motor home defects and town board decisions.
“I litigated five cases through trial, which is an opportunity I would not have had in New York City,” said Sher.
He fought for the rights of a New York State prison inmate in a federal court civil rights case and was recognized with the 2015 U.S. District Court Western District of New York Pro Bono Award.
Sher joined the Litigation Council of the Monroe County Bar Association and is now the co-chair. He is active in planning and participating in Continuing Legal Education events in Rochester and regularly writes articles for publication in the Daily Record.
“Overall, my level of involvement in the legal community far exceeds anything I did downstate,” said Sher.
Trien, a Brighton native, returned to the Rochester area after spending 10 years as a litigator for an influential law firm in Miami. She had cases that required her to depose the mayor of Miami and other high-ranking city officials. She also represented several New York hedge funds in litigation involving Ponzi schemes orchestrated by stockbroker Bernie Madoff.
“I missed a sense of community that I felt in Rochester and I missed the lack of traffic in upstate New York,” said Trien.
In 2015, she and her husband, Joe, were ready to come home. Even before they moved to Webster, she flew up to Rochester to attend networking events and to reach out to local attorneys she knew for references. It was easy to connect with people, and she was happy to accept a position at Leclair Korona Cole LLP.
“It is very much like the firm I worked for in Miami, where the lawyers are passionate trial attorneys with strong ethics and dedicated to providing first-rate service. I now use my big city trial experience to advocate for clients involved in business and employment law disputes here in Rochester,” said Trien.
Trien joined legal organizations such as Greater Rochester Association of Women Attorneys and took on leadership roles. As co-program chair, she coordinated events with a charity component which were then replicated on the state level by the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York.
“I organized an educational program and we asked members to bring personal care items to donate to women’s shelters. It was such a successful event that other groups picked up the cause and did the same thing downstate,” said Trien.
After hosting that program and other fundraising events, Trien was recognized with GRAWA’s President’s Award. Last month, both she and her colleague Sher were named Super Lawyers in business litigation via peer evaluations and peer nominations.
“I have never regretted leaving Miami to come back to Rochester. It’s nice to make an impact professionally through civil litigation but it’s that connection to the community that brings real career satisfaction,” said Trien.