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woodsoviatt.com | Spring 2012
Woods Oviatt Gilman llp
Briefly Noted… 1 100 Years and Counting Part II
2 Woods Oviatt Makes Annual Holiday Donations
4 Drilling into the Controversy Over Hydraulic Fracturing in New York State
3 John H. Berman Scholarship Award Winners 5 Opportunity Knocks: Estate and Gift Tax Considerations for Business Owners in 2012
6 N ew Faces at the Firm: Nathaniel S. Bank, Esq.,
Timothy R. Curtin, Esq., Natalie A. Grigg, Esq., Michael Davis Hoenig , Esq., Marcus W. Kroll, Esq., Douglas R. Smith, PH.D., J.D., Anna Z. Spacone, Esq. Mark H. Tiernan, Esq., Stephen J. Wallace, Esq., have joined the firm
John S. Gilman
R. Thompson Gilman
By R. Thompson Gilman, Esq.
I am very proud that 2011 marked 100 years of continuous law practice by Gilman attorneys at Woods Oviatt Gilman LLP.
Anthony R. Palermo, Esq., René H. Reixach, Esq.
In the Fall 2011 newsletter, I reviewed the career of my grandfather, Andrew L. Gilman, who joined Wile & Oviatt in 1911 and retired from Woods, Oviatt, Gilman, Sturman & Clarke in 1970. My thanks to the many readers who responded that they enjoyed that brief recital of firm history, and were looking forward to Part II.
LaRocca, Esq., Jason P. Livingston, Esq. , Jennifer K. Meldrum, Esq., Warren B. Rosenbaum, Esq., , and Christopher R. Rodi, Esq., Ines Monks Rappels “21 Stories for Scouts,” Gary Amendola Fun Fund at Camp Good Days, Day of Caring Volunteer Day
My dad, John S. Gilman, grew up in the city’s east side with his parents, Andrew and Georgianna, and twin sister, Elizabeth, and younger brother, Phil. He attended The Harley School and then Williams College in Massachusetts, where he majored in Mathematics, and was captain of the track team. Upon graduation in 1940, he joined Prudential Insurance Company as an actuary.
7 S pecial Recognition Goes to: William G. Bauer, Esq.,
7 In the Community: Robert S. Attardo, Esq., Lorisa D.
Practice Areas… 8 Business & Finance 8 Family Wealth & Estate Planning 8 Intellectual Property 8 Litigation 8 Labor & Employment 8 Real Estate Development & Finance 8 Secured Lending & Financial Recovery 700 Crossroads Building 2 State Street Rochester, NY 14614 tel: 585.987.2800 fax: 585.454.3968 woodsoviatt.com
My dad became fascinated with airplanes as a youth, and when the U.S. entered World War II, he left Prudential and enlisted in the Navy for flight training. He became a Navy Night Fighter, flying Hellcats off the carrier Lexington in the South Pacific. There is a chapter on his war time experiences in Rochester native Jack Forsyth’s book “Hell Divers;” the narration of excitement and fear culminates in my dad’s being shot down by friendly fire and escaping from his rapidly sinking airplane to fly another day. He often gave credit to summers spent swimming at Conesus Lake for getting his head above water at the last possible moment. Navy flyers cut a rather dashing image at home and abroad and he didn’t mind favorable attention, and always had an eye for attractive ladies, and my mother was the most beautiful of all. When he was discharged after the war he wanted to be able to support a wife and my grandfather encouraged him to attend law school. He was accepted at Cornell University School of Law on the GI Bill and married Virginia Thompson continued on page 11…
Woods Oviatt Makes Annual Holiday Donations In December of 2011 Woods Oviatt Gilman LLP made its annual donations to selected charities in honor of our clients. These contributions reflect the firm’s appreciation of its clients and its commitment to the community. The charities that were the recipients of this year’s contributions are:
Catholic Family Center Catholic Family Center is Rochester’s largest family service provider, helping nearly 64,000 people each year achieve independence with dignity. CFC is a comprehensive agency that houses 9 major service areas with more than 60 programs for people of all age, race, religion, and socioeconomic circumstances. These programs are available to the community at 19 locations throughout Monroe and Wayne Counties. To learn more go to: cfcrochester.org From left to Right: Mark Wickham, CEO of CFC and Carolyn Portanova, retired CEO of CFC receive a check from Paul Groschadl and Jim McElheny.
CDS Monarch, Inc. Warrior SALUTE Program CDS Monarch, Inc. developed the Warrior SALUTE Program to help service members and their families with personalized life and job transition support. Warrior SALUTE helps service members regain their lives and dreams by providing quality employment opportunities, as well as clinical and rehabilitative services. To learn more go to: cdswarriorsalute.org Greg Gribben presents a check to Sankar Sewnauth, President and CEO of CDS Monarch, Inc.
Mercier Literacy For Children Program The Mercier Literacy For Children program delivers high quality reading and writing instruction to our community’s youth. The program is at work in schools and childcare centers in Rochester’s poorest neighborhoods and utilizes qualified NYS certified teachers; many are special education or literacy certified. The program is delivered in collaboration with the Graduate Literacy Program at Nazareth College. To learn more go to: mercierliteracyprogram.org Warren Rosenbaum presents a check to Roseanne Kulikowski, Director of the Mercier Literacy Program.
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Tony Cotroneo and Jim McElheny present a check to Donna Dedee, President & CEO of School of the Holy Childhood.
John H. Berman Scholarship Award Winners
The School of the Holy Childhood The School of the Holy Childhood is a non-denominational, non-profit agency that has enriched the lives of people with developmental disabilities for more than 60 years. Their mission is to prepare children and adults with developmental disabilities for maximum independence and integration in the community through individualized programs and services. To learn more go to: holychildhood.org
Steve Tierney and Jim McElheny present a check to JoAnne Ryan, President and CEO of the VOA of Western New York.
Volunteers of America Children’s Center The Volunteers of America Children’s Center provides quality care and educational programs for children ages 6 weeks through 12 years old. The Children’s Center offers families and children quality, affordable care that includes access to state-ofthe-art facilities and programs. To learn more go to: voawny.org
Woods Oviatt is pleased to announce the 2012 winners of the John H. Berman Scholarship Award. John H. Berman was a popular and successful attorney who practiced in a small firm until about 1978, when he became “Of Counsel” at Woods Oviatt Gilman LLP. Following his death in 1986, Woods Oviatt established a fund in his memory with the Rochester Area Community Foundation. With donations from the firm, Mrs. Berman, and John Berman’s clients, a fund was established to provide scholarships annually to University of Rochester graduating seniors planning to attend law school. John Berman was always concerned for young people, and was an alumnus of the U of R (as was his wife). Woods Oviatt has continued to award scholarships each year since his death, and this year marks the 26th anniversary of the first scholarships. The 2012 scholarship winners are: Jacob Ark, Conor Flynn, Kai Zang, John Whiting, Matthew Lavigueur and Niki Holmes.
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FRACKING POP QUIZ Drilling into the Controversy Over Hydraulic Fracturing in New York State Greta K. Kolcon, Esq.
Robert S. Attardo, Esq.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, “natural gas plays a key role in our nation’s clean energy future.” Factors that make natural gas a favored energy source include its abundance, affordability, and lower carbon profile. Most of the natural gas used in the United States is produced domestically, making the supply more reliable, which has national security implications. Some energy outlooks project that natural gas as an energy source will surpass coal and become second only to oil. Shale gas refers to natural gas that is trapped within shale formations, referred to as “shale plays.” Shale has limited permeability, which means that gas trapped within the shale cannot move easily. The Marcellus Shale lies below six states, including New York and Pennsylvania. Larger reservoirs of shale gas are trapped where the shale lies deeper below the surface, and the shale is too close to the surface in northern regions of New York to contain sufficient reservoirs of natural gas for drilling. In fact, the shale is so close to the surface in some areas that it is exposed, such as in Marcellus, New York, where the shale play gained its moniker. Energy companies are currently interested in an area including Northern Pennsylvania and portions of Southern New York, because scientific analysis suggests larger reservoirs of shale gas in these locations. Before recent advances in technology, vertical wells were the primary method available for reaching reservoirs of natural gas. Hydraulic fracturing has been used throughout the United States on a commercial basis since the 1940s. However, combining hydraulic fracturing methods with the recent significant advances in horizontal drilling methods has dramatically increased the economic viability of extracting natural gas. The new methods dramatically reduce the scope of above ground operations, because a single drilling platform that uses horizontal drilling can theoretically replace the surface area that would have required up to eight separate vertical drilling platforms, along with consolidating the associated infrastructure. It also minimizes conflict with existing aboveground development or geographic obstacles. This is the reason that interest has grown in developing access to natural gas reservoirs within the Marcellus shale play. Like most energy source exploration, drilling for shale gas carries with it risks of impacting the environment. Concerns include stress on surface water and ground water supplies because large volumes of water are used in hydraulic fracturing operations. In addition, concerns have been raised regarding potential methane contamination of underground sources of drinking water, and contamination of surface water due to potential spills, faulty well construction, or wastewater flow back from the extraction sites as it comes back to the surface. Proper disposal of waste water is a concern, as wastewater from this process may contain a variety of substances, including salt, naturally occurring radioactive material, and proppant and chemical additives used by energy companies to improve the efficiency of continued on page 10… Page 4 | woodsoviatt.com | Spring 2012
How much do you really know about the issues involved in hydraulic fracturing debate? Take our pop quiz and check your score. 1. Hydraulic Fracturing is: a) a new untested technology for obtaining natural gas; b) a process that has never been used in New York State; or c) a process that has been used commercially for more than half a century. 2. Hydraulic Fracturing is: a) Legal in New York, but activists seek to ban it; b) Illegal in New York, but energy companies seek legislation to allow it; or c) S ubject to a temporary moratorium in New York to allow new regulations to be developed. 3. With respect to environmental impacts, Hydraulic Fracturing: a) H as been scientifically proven to cause earthquakes; b) H as the potential to contaminate air, water, and soil; or c) Has no impact on the environment. (Answers on page 12.)
Opportunity Knocks: Estate and Gift Tax Considerations for Business Owners in 2012 David P. Shaffer, Esq.
Jason P. Livingston, Esq.
Are you a business owner considering passing your company to the next generation? There may be no better time to act than the present. The old adage tells us that nothing is certain but death and taxes, however the amount of taxes (or more importantly the exemptions) has been fluctuating greatly in recent years. In December 2010, Congress passed the Tax Relief Act which considerably increased the federal gift and estate tax exemptions. However, these increases are only temporary and set to expire at the end of 2012. The current exemption amount, coupled with other valuation factors, offers an opportunity to transfer additional wealth and shift subsequent appreciation out of a taxable estate. These resulting benefits are especially obvious in transitioning business interests during lifetime. This article will address some business planning options and the gift and estate tax consequences. First, it is important to understand the basic taxable events under current New York and federal law. New York has no state gift tax, and the federal annual gift tax exclusion allows an individual to gift up to $13,000 per recipient per year and avoid the IRS reporting requirement (this amount doubles for spouses gifting together). Transferring assets in excess of this annual exclusion requires IRS reporting, although no tax is paid unless an individual has used up his or her lifetime gift tax exemption. This lifetime gift tax exemption has been the focus of opportunity in business succession planning. Prior to the Tax Relief Act of 2010, the lifetime gift tax exemption remained relatively stable at $1,000,000. The Tax Relief Act, passed in the final weeks of 2010, increased the lifetime exemption to $5,000,000, adjusted for inflation. As a result, the 2011 exemption was $5,000,000 and the inflation adjustment increased the 2012 exemption to $5,120,000. Individuals are currently permitted to gift assets, tax free, in excess of their annual exclusion up to $5,120,000.
With current federal estate tax legislation set to expire on December 31, 2012, various scenarios may play out. Some commentators have speculated that Congress will take action at the end of this year to extend the current $5,000,000 exemption amounts (plus inflation) into 2013 and beyond. Other commentators think Congress will reintroduce the $3,500,000 estate tax exemption and $1,000,000 gift tax exemption amounts that were in place in 2009. However, the certainty is that if Congress fails to take action, both the estate and gift tax exemptions will fall to $1,000,000, and the tax rates will jump from their current 35% rate to 55%. If the exemption amounts decrease beginning in 2013, 2012 will prove to be a critical year for gifting. In that scenario, “tax free” gifts made in 2013 will generally be limited to the amount of the then available exemption (whether that be $1,000,000, $3,500,000, or some other amount). For estate tax purposes, these taxable gifts will be included in the transferor’s estate. However, clients in a position to transfer assets during lifetime can still recognize considerable benefits and estate tax savings. It is important to remember that the amount of the exemption applied against a lifetime gift is valued at the time of the gift. As such, gifting appreciable assets (such as business interests), coupled with other valuation practices, can greatly enhance the benefits of lifetime gifting, particularly at a time when market conditions are depressed. For example, if a family business owner transfers $1,000,000 of company stock or other assets to his or her children, and the stock subsequently appreciates to $2,000,000 after the transfer is completed, only $1,000,000 (less the annual exclusion amount) will be counted against the owner for gift tax purposes. The appreciation will pass estate tax free to the donees. Moreover, with low continued on page 10… Spring 2012 | woodsoviatt.com | Page 5
New Faces at the Firm… Nathaniel S. Bank, Esq., has joined the firm as an Associate in the Business and Finance Department. His practice is focused in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, corporate law and governance, corporate finance, securities law and other business-related legal issues.
Nathaniel S. Bank, Esq.
Timothy R. Curtin, Esq., has joined the firm as Of Counsel in the Real Estate and Finance Department. He concentrates his practice in public finance with an extensive background in general obligation and revenue bond tax law, structured debt transactions, and hedge fund management.
Timothy R. Curtin, Esq.
Natalie A. Grigg, Esq., has joined the firm as an Associate in the firm’s Residential Foreclosure Department. Ms. Grigg represents creditors and servicers throughout New York State in foreclosures including loss mitigation and all litigated matters. Natalie A. Grigg, Esq.
Michael Davis Hoenig, Esq., has joined the firm as an Associate in the firm’s Litigation Department where he concentrates his practice on commercial litigation. Marcus W. Kroll, Esq., has joined the firm as an Associate in the Family Wealth and Estate Planning Department. He concentrates his practice in the areas of estate planning, estate and trust administration, estate and trust litigation, long term care planning, Medicaid planning, special needs planning, guardianships, and planning for unique family situations such as same-sex couples, LGBT clients, and second marriages.
Marcus W. Kroll, Esq.
Anna Z. Spacone, Esq.
Douglas R. Smith, PH.D., J.D., is a registered patent attorney and has joined the firm as an associate in the Intellectual Property Practice Group. Dr. Smith’s practice involves the preparation and prosecution of patent and trademark applications, patentability searches and opinions, patent infringement and validity analyses, and trademark searches and opinions. Dr. Smith’s practice further involves representing clients in patent infringement litigation actions and also in opposition proceedings before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Douglas R. Smith, PH.D., J.D., Esq.
Anna Z. Spacone, Esq., has joined the firm as an Associate in the firm’s Residential Foreclosure Department. Ms. Spacone represents creditors in foreclosure matters, including loss mitigation and litigation, throughout New York State. Mark H. Tiernan, Esq., has joined the firm as Of Counsel in the Family Wealth and Estate Planning Department. He concentrates his practice on estate planning, estate administration and residential real estate.
Stephen J. Wallace, Esq.
Michael Davis Hoenig Esq.
Stephen J. Wallace, Esq., has joined the firm as an Associate in the firm’s Residential Foreclosure Department. He concentrates his practice in foreclosure and bankruptcy.
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Mark H. Tiernan, Esq.
Special Recognition Goes to…
William G. Bauer, Esq.
René H. Reixach, Esq.
William G. Bauer, Esq., has been named the Monroe County Bar Association Foundation’s 2012 Humanitarian Award winner. Bill was honored at the Law Day Luncheon on April 24th. The Foundation established its Humanitarian Award in 2003 to recognize individuals and organizations whose service to the County of Monroe exemplifies the charitable and humane purposes of the Foundation. Bill is a partner in the Litigation Department. Anthony R. Palermo, Esq. has been selected by the Senior Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association as the 2012 John H. Pickering Achievement Award recipient. The award is given to an attorney who demonstrates outstanding legal ability, and has compiled a distinguished record of service to the profession and their communities, resulting in significant contributions to improving access to justice for all. It was established in 2007 in recognition of John H. Pickering’s brilliant legal work, his advocacy of pro bono service, his dedication to the cause of equal justice for all and his promotion of the highest standards of ethics and professionalism in the law. Tony will receive his award at the Senior Lawyers Division Dinner on August 2, 2012 in Chicago.
Anthony R. Palermo, Esq.
Anthony R. Palermo, Esq., will also be receiving the Justin L. Vigdor Senior Attorney Award for Service at the Monroe County Bar Association’s Installation Dinner on June 21st. Tony is being recognized for his continued and extraordinary contributions to the Bar Association. Tony will receive his award on June 21 at the Bar Association’s Installation Dinner at the Hyatt Regency. René H. Reixach, Esq., has been named the recipient of the Monroe County Bar Association’s 2012 President’s Award for Professionalism. This award was established in 1999 by the Bar Association’s Board of Trustees and is presented on an annual basis to recognize a member of the Bar who has exemplified and demonstrated a commitment to those principles which are embodied in the concepts of Professionalism, Civility and Collegiality. René will receive his award on June 21 at the Bar Association’s Installation Dinner at the Hyatt Regency.
In the Community… Robert S. Attardo, Esq., has been elected to become President of the Rochester Rotary Club from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014. Prior to that, he will serve for a year as President Elect. Bob is Special Counsel in the Litigation Department.
Robert S. Attardo, Esq.
Lorisa D. LaRocca, Esq., has recently been appointed as the Vice President of Women’s Council, an affiliate of the Rochester Business Alliance. Lorisa is a partner in the Labor and Employment Department.
Lorisa D. LaRocca, Esq.
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In the Community…
Jason P. Livingston, Esq., has been named one of the honorees for The Daily Record’s 2012 Up & Coming Attorneys awards program. Jason was selected for his involvement in the legal community and for all his work with not-for-profit organizations. Jason received his award at the awards celebration Wednesday, May 23. Jason P. Livingston, Esq.
Jennifer K. Meldrum, Esq., has been appointed to Gilda’s Club of Rochester/Cancer Action, Inc. Board of Directors. Jennifer is an associate in the Litigation Department.
Warren B. Rosenbaum, Esq.
Warren B. Rosenbaum, Esq., was elected as a member of the Monroe Community College Foundation Board of Trustees. Warren is a partner in the Litigation Department.
Jennifer K. Meldrum, Esq.
Christopher R. Rodi, Esq., has joined the Pittsford Community Collaborative Task Force as Vice Chair. He has also become a member of St. Bonaventure University Gaudete Awards Committee. Chris is a partner in our Business and Finance Department.
Ines Monks Rappels “21 Stories for Scouts” On Friday, May 18th, Ines Monks, 85, secretary to Bob Kessler, had an opportunity to participate in the most unique fundraising event offered to the Rochester community in many years. She rappelled 21 stories down the side of the First Federal Plaza in downtown Rochester as part of the “21 Stories for Scouts” fundraiser! When interviewed by YNN News Ines said, “It’s fulfilling two things; it’s fulfilling one of the items on my bucket list and it’s fulfilling the wish of a young man who is in the Scouts who’d otherwise not be able to attend the facilities because of lack of funds.” Ines is shown here rapelling side-by-side with Jan Silver, a friend and client of the firm.
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This event was established in 2010 by the Seneca Waterways Boy Scout Council to raise money to support urban scouting programs, including the 40 after school programs run in Rochester schools, and an opportunity to attend three summer camps.
Christopher R. Rodi, Esq.
In the Community…
Gary Amendola Fun Fund at Camp Good Days Former Woods Oviatt Partner Gary Amendola (posthumously) and The Gary Amendola Fun Fund at Woods Oviatt were recently inducted in to the Camp Good Days and Special Times’ Ring of Honor at a dinner on March 9th, 2012. The Ring of Honor was established as part of Camp Good Days’ 25th Anniversary Celebration in 2004 and includes those who are selected for their outstanding dedication, commitment, and support of the thousands of children and families served over the years. In addition to their award, inductee’s names will be included in the permanent Ring of Honor display, which is located at the Camp Good Days’ Recreational Facility in Branchport, NY, for all to see.
Jim McElheny accepts the award from Gary Mervis, founder of Camp Good Days and Special Times and is joined by Gary Amendola’s widow, Linda Wayland-Smith.
Day of Caring Volunteer Day On May 10th several members of Woods Oviatt represented the firm as volunteers for a United Way project of beautifying the grounds of two Christian Heritage houses in Chili. Many thanks for all the hard work goes out to: Tom Gilman, Rita Thomas, Lori Appoloney, Ines Monks, Judy Same, Bob McElroy, Bonnie Houghtling, Monica Culligan and Bonnie Brooks.
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Opportunity Knocks …continued from page 5
interest rates, transferring assets to certain types of trusts for the benefit of children also allows business owners to “leverage” the exemption to transfer wealth to future generations in a tax-efficient way. Finally, recapitalizing a business into voting and nonvoting interests provides another planning opportunity for business owners. Here is how it works: A business owner transfers a portion of the non-voting interests to his or her children, while maintaining control of the company by retaining the voting interests. The transfer of non-voting interests is advantageous from a gift tax standpoint because the value of the non-voting interests is “discounted” from a fair market value perspective. The discount is attributed to the “lack of control” associated with the non-voting interests. A separate discount for “lack of marketability” can also be obtained if the children’s ability to transfer the interest is restricted pursuant to, for example, a
shareholders’ agreement. Most commentators believe that a 20% to 40% discount is appropriate for gift tax reporting purposes but these discounts should be supported by a qualified appraisal. Therefore, in many cases, a business owner who transfers $5,000,000 worth in non-voting interests to his or her children will only be considered to have transferred $3,000,000 to $4,000,000 as a result of these discounts. 2012 provides a year of relative certainty in the estate and gift tax realm. This certainty allows family business owners to take control over the future of their business and begin transferring wealth in a tax-efficient way. Therefore, individuals in the position to begin transferring assets to lower generations during lifetime will realize considerable tax benefits. Jason P. Livingston and David P. Shaffer are Associates in the Family Wealth Planning Practice Group at Woods Oviatt Gilman LLP. Jason can be reached at 585-987-2866. David can be reached at 585-987-2878.
Drilling into the Controversy …continued from page 4
the process. These may include such things as diesel fuel, petroleum distillates, ethylene glycol, biocides, acides, hydrogen peroxide, alcohols, propylene glycol, and others. Air pollution could be released by this process, or by the attendant industry required. New roadways, large trucks, noise and light pollution, as well as increased human population are all potential environmental impacts. As of the writing of this article, natural gas drilling in New York State is subject to a moratorium pending the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s development of new regulations. The DEC is in the process of reviewing tens of thousands of public comments received on its 2011 revised draft supplemental generic environmental impact statement (SGEIS), which is available and fully searchable at http://www.dec.ny.gov// data/dmn/rdsgeisfull0911.pdf. Once its review is complete, the DEC is expected to announce a new set of permitting and regulatory oversight for natural gas drilling in New York. Because the number of public responses was unprecedented, the projected time frame for issuance of the final regulations will take substantially more time than originally anticipated. While early estimates indicated that permitting would be available as early as the summer of 2012, Governor Cuomo’s 2012 budget included no allocation of additional funds to increase the staff of the DEC. This may signal his expectation that permitting will not be available until 2013. Page 10 | woodsoviatt.com | Spring 2012
While the NYSDEC is working on its regulations, some local governments within New York have passed “fracking bans.” Bans that are passed in more northern areas of the State are largely symbolic, since only a limited portion of New York contains resources for exploration. At the time of this writing, these bans have been upheld by the first level courts who have considered challenges. However, the anticipated New York State regulations may preempt local government action. Similarly, if the United States Environmental Protection Agency or federal law preempts this area, both local and State government could be superseded. The EPA is now in the process of its own studies, and new proposed federal legislation is currently under consideration. Because the governing laws and regulations relating to natural gas exploration in New York are in a state of development, it may take many months or even years before there is stability. If you have concerns regarding how proposed natural gas drilling might impact you, your rights, your property, or your business, or you would simply like more information, please contact our Environmental Law and Litigation attorneys. Greta Kolcon is a partner in the Litigation Department and Chair of the Environmental Practice Group, and can be reached at 585-987-2812. Robert Attardo is Special Counsel and member of the Litigation Department and Environmental Practice Group and can be reached at 585-987-2884.
100 Years and Counting …continued from page 1
The firm grew, and in 1964 was known as Oviatt, Gilman, O’Brien, Forman and Clarke; in that year the Van Schaick, Woods, Strathman, Sturman and Costanza firm approached Andrew Gilman about a merger. In those days, banking relationships were the focus for law firm growth and the My dad joined Oviatt, Gilman, O’Brien and Forman in 1948. Woods firm’s bank client, Central Trust Company, was Other new associates included Percival D. Oviatt, Jr. and growing and in need of more and more legal services. The Robert W. Clarke. The firm was in the Lincoln Alliance partners in the two firms were already well acquainted and Bank Building at 183 East Main Street and the location in the merger made good business sense for both. Partner proximity to the bank’s trust department Bob Schantz would later relate that provided a jump start to a long and with the two firms’ marriage “two and successful trusts and estates practice. It’s only work if two added to five,” meaning to say the He also joined the Rochester Junior you’d rather be doing whole became better than the parts. Chamber of Commerce, where he met Woods, Oviatt, Gilman, Sturman & something else. numerous other young men who became Clarke occupied the new fifth floor in the – John S. Gilman lifelong friends and clients. Central Trust Building in 1965 (after the three story building was expanded to five The firm was not departmentalized but floors) and over the succeeding years filled also the fourth each attorney had strengths in practice areas he particularly floor and part of the third floor. enjoyed, and so they helped one another accordingly. of Rochester, between semesters of study, on December 26, 1946. They lived in married students’ housing in Ithaca where they made many lifelong friends among the other war veterans and their spouses.
He never stopped flying. He and best friend and flying buddy Dick Bennett bought a Stinson and flew for fun from Ray Hylan’s aerodrome (where Marketplace Mall is now located). Over the years they were partners in many planes, and particularly seaplanes. For a number of years they, with a group of friends, traveled by seaplane to Northern Canada for fishing and whale hunting. (You heard right! Whale hunting in Hudson’s Bay!) My father was very active in civic and charitable causes throughout his career. He was a Past President of the Jaycees, Rochester General Hospital Foundation, Lewis Street Center, and Monroe County Bar Foundation; and was a 50 year volunteer with The Red Cross, United Way, and Third Presbyterian Church. So many things changed during his career. For his first 33 years the firm was all men. When he started there were no paralegals. There were no faxes, no computers or cell phones; no Federal Express. Daily timekeeping and “minimum billable hours” would come much later. What was of paramount importance then, as it is now, was the firm’s reputation. The older partners instilled a strong work ethic and constantly strived for perfection in all matters. My dad was usually very patient and always meticulous in his work, and achieved a reputation among clients and peers for skill in business, tax and estates law, and also for his endless optimism.
The firm started to “departmentalize” with the lawyers becoming more specialized in areas of practice and my dad became primarily an estates lawyer, and in 1968 Bob Kessler was hired as the first associate in the Estates Department. The estates practice grew significantly over the succeeding years and they both were mentors to me, beginning with my graduation from law school in 1976. Monica Culligan became our secretary as a teenager in 1981 and became like another daughter to my dad, and remains invaluable to our estates practice. Dad always said about coming to the office: “It’s only work if you’d rather be doing something else.” His youthful outlook and good health kept him skiing into his 80’s. His office time became limited after a broken hip set him back at age 84. He continued to enjoy summer weekends at Conesus Lake throughout his later years. He was packing for a family vacation when he fell ill in August 2007, and he died the next day. He worked 22 years with his dad, Andrew, and 28 years with me. My son Scott is in Middlebury College and son Jimmy is at Pittsford Sutherland High School and it is too early to predict if there will be a fourth generation Gilman at the law firm (though we have the office picked out just in case). In Part III I will reflect on changes in law practice and at the firm during my first 35 years at Woods Oviatt Gilman LLP.
Spring 2012 | woodsoviatt.com | Page 11
Woods Oviatt Gilman
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Practice Areas: 8 Business & Finance 8 Family Wealth & Estate Planning 8 Intellectual Property 8 Litigation 8 Labor & Employment 8 Real Estate Development & Finance 8 Secured Lending & Financial Recovery
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