July 2016 Alumni Highlight

Gregory SaracinoGregory Saracino ('04), a partner at Milber Makris Plousadis & Seiden, LLP, recently secured two wins in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in a data security case, and the other a religious discrimination case.

On April 15, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld a jury's verdict in Gordon v. Softech, et al., a data privacy case in favor of defendant Arcanum Investigations, the company that operates the website Docusearch.com. After a 5-day trial, an 11-person jury found for Greg's client, Arcanum. The plaintiff, seeking over $6 million in damages, appealed the verdict on a number of issues, including judicial conduct and the introduction of evidence and expert witness testimony. The Court of Appeals in a unanimous decision rejected the plaintiff's appeal and upheld the verdict. [Citation: 2016 WL 1534001]

On March 23, 2016, in Bernstein v. The Village of Wesley Hills, et al., the Second Circuit upheld District Judge Kenneth Karas's order granting summary judgment to defendant Village of Pomona. The federal case, brought in 2008 by the leaders of the Chofetz Chaim sect of Orthodox Judaism, sought $100 million in damages, claiming violations of the Free Exercise, Establishment and Equal Protection Clauses. The matter was dismissed in summary judgment in favor of Greg's clients and the appeals court, after briefing and argument by Greg, unanimously upheld the ruling. [Citation: 2016 WL 1129182]

Greg's firm, Milber Makris, with 70-lawyers, specializes mostly in the commercial defense arena, however, "I get many of the esoteric cases - from discrimination, to products liability, to bodily injury, to cyber law and (oddly enough) improper burial. I am grateful for the variety. Many attorneys hyper-specialize in certain areas—and that's great of course—but this keeps me on my toes. I'm constantly learning new aspects of the law and review new appellate decisions almost daily. My education at Pace, especially through the skills and practical courses, definitely gave me a head start."

After graduating from law school, Greg obtained his first position through an ad in a Pace Law newsletter. A medical malpractice plaintiff's lawyer was looking for an associate. Greg was hoping to do some environmental work, but interviewed anyway at the urging of his (now) wife. The attorney (who has since passed on) was, Greg says, of the "old guard," getting his law degree in in the early 1960's and was in his twilight years of practice. "It was just the two of us. I'd start work at 9 a.m. but he wouldn't get to the office until 3 p.m. and we'd work well after midnight on motions. I certainly grew a thick skin in that environment."

Fortunately, shortly thereafter Greg ran into fellow Pace alumni and former classmate, Otto Cheng (2004), at Lazy Boy Saloon in White Plains. Otto asked Greg if he was interested in interviewing at Milber Makris, where Otto was working as an associate. Greg interviewed the next week. "I always say Otto got me the job, but he'll say that he merely got me the interview." Otto and Greg forged a friendship during the first day of orientation week at Pace in 2001, and their kinship persist to this day. Both are partners at Milber Makris now.

Greg holds the distinction that of being the youngest person to be made partner at the firm at 31 in 2011, and the shortest-time out of law school. "I fortuitously won a series of dispositive motions around that time and naturally billed a lot of hours. I suppose they liked that!" However, he feels lucky that he found a firm where he never knows what to expect from one case to the next. "One day I can find myself in the hallowed halls of federal circuit court, and the next day in the tightly crowded, charged atmosphere that is Supreme Bronx."

Greg learned early on in law school that regardless of where you sat, or how well you thought you hid – you should always be prepared. One specific memory sticks with him – it was Greg's first day of contracts at Pace with Professor Jim Fishman. "I purposefully planted myself on the back benches to avoid getting called on. Useless! I was picked the first week—I think the case was Hadley v. Baxendale—I was so nervous when Fishman called my name that as I reached to turn the page my hand banged into mug of water which spilled all over the table and down the sides. Everyone laughed." Greg is grateful for learning the lesson of preparedness early on and maintains that it has helped him through his career as a lawyer.

Greg has been named to the prestigious Super Lawyers publication as a Rising Star three years running: 2014, 2015 and 2016. Greg enjoys spending time with his three children, playing the drums and gardening. He lives in Valhalla.