Member Spotlight: Goldberg Segalla and Bunkers in Baghdad

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership represents nearly 2,000 members and a quarter of a million employees in the Buffalo Niagara region.

To celebrate our members and their accomplishments, we have started a Member Spotlight blog series.

This month we are proud to recognize and celebrate law firm, Goldberg Segalla.

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Joseph Hanna

I had the pleasure of speaking with Joseph Hanna, Partner of Goldberg Segalla, to learn more about what they do and why they’re happy to be a member of the Partnership.

Q: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me, Joe. After learning of your involvement with Bunkers in Baghdad, I was eager to speak to you to discuss the recent Happy Hour For a Cause that BN360 had to benefit the charity on November 5, 2014.

A: Thank you, Julia. I started Bunkers in Baghdad in 2008. Bunkers in Baghdad is a not-for-profit charity that collects and ships golf equipment (new and used golf balls, as well as clubs) to our wounded warriors, veterans and active-duty military members around the world.

We have shipped 5.2 million golf balls and 250,000 golf clubs to our brave men and women across the globe and in more than 30 different countries and in all 50 states.

Since founding the charity, Bunkers in Baghdad has been an important cause to Goldberg Segalla. Without Goldberg’s assistance, Bunkers never would have gotten off the ground.

PrintMany of the firm’s attorneys and staff members have strong connections to the military through family members who currently serve or have served. This includes our firm’s Managing Partner and my mentor Rick Cohen, whose father, Sid Cohen, flew missions in World War 2 II. Several are former members themselves, such as my dear friend Chris Belter, who served in the Air Force.

We are ecstatic to have worked in conjunction with the BN360 program to help our troops through this event, which collected hundreds of golf balls, tees and oven a dozen golf clubs.

Q: We were glad to be able to be a part of it! So, can you tell me a little bit about Golberg Segalla and how your relationship with the Partnership has progressed over the years? For example, I know that you recently joined the Partnership in 2013.

A: Goldberg Segalla was proud to have been a member of the Partnership for a number of years. After taking a few years off to assess our marketing strategy and our vision for the future, we re-joined.

Q: What inspired you to re-join as a member?

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Soldiers pose with golf clubs provided by Bunkers in Baghdad

A: The Partnership’s great leadership and forward-thinking approach. There are synergies that exist between the Partnership and our firm, as we both have a focus on growth and achieving greatness for the region. When it comes to bettering the Buffalo Niagara region, we feel we’re on the same page.

Q: That’s great to hear. Since re-joining, what benefits has Goldberg Segalla experienced through its affiliation with the Partnership?

A: Being a part of the regional growth, as well as having the opportunity to work with the Partnership’s young professionals program, BN360.

It has been tremendously beneficial for local charities that are important to our firm, such as Bunkers in Baghdad and Buffalo Christmas Wishes, to collaborate with the Partnership and BN360 to raise awareness.

Q: What current challenges or opportunities does Goldberg Segalla or Bunkers in Baghdad face that you think the Partnership might be able to play a role in?

buffalo xmas wishesA: The Partnership’s ability to reach out and bring attention to a cause or effort in Western New York is unmatched in our community. By working with Bunkers in Baghdad and highlighting our efforts in helping troops around the world, the Partnership has assisted the charity immensely.

Q: I’m so happy to hear that. So, has your firm had any recent accomplishments you’d like to share with us? For example, I know that eight partners were selected for the 2014 Legal Elite of Western New York.

A: Not bad, huh? It certainly elevates your game when you are around some of the most talented and dynamic attorneys in the entire United States.

We were also proud to be recognized as the USA Insurance Law Firm of the Year by Lawyer Monthly in its 2014 Legal awards and received 12 rankings, including five “Tier 1 Metropolitan” rankings, in the U.S. News – Best Lawyers® 2015 “Best Law Firms” survey.

Finally, 26 attorneys in our New York, Garden City, and White Plains offices were named Super Lawyers or Rising Stars in the 2014 New York Metro Super Lawyers. Forty-six attorneys in our Buffalo, Albany, Rochester, and Syracuse offices are listed in the 2014 Upstate New York edition.

PrintQ: That’s quite a list of accomplishments! You must be proud. 

A: The things that we have accomplished individually and as a firm are tremendous and I take great pride in our efforts. However, in the competitive world we live in, it is imperative that we (as my friend Ron Raccuia would say) “Strive to make yourself and those around you better today than you were yesterday, and prepare today to make tomorrow better than today.”

Q: That’s a great saying. I also wanted to congratulate you personally, as I know that you earned a spot in the 2014 Legal Elite’s Top 10: Best of the Best, which honors individuals who received the most nominations from the legal community. What an honor to be voted one of the top 10 attorneys in Western New York!

A: Thank you. I really appreciate it. Like I said, when you are around unbelievably talented people who are willing to work with you and teach you right from wrong, you will only get better.

Most importantly, my “hard working, roll up your sleeves and get down to work” parents instilled a strong work ethic and the importance of a great education into me and my three sisters. I would not be where I am, or the person I have become, without my parents’ guidance, love and support.

(You can learn more about Joe in this interview.)

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Credit: Bunkers in Baghdad

Q: That’s so nice to hear. You have also won a number of other awards in the last couple of months as well, right?

A: When it rains, it pours, I guess. I was also recently recognized as a Law360 Rising Star for 2014 for my work on the legal issues in the National Football League concussion litigation controversy. It was an honor to be included as one of the only five individuals nationwide that were named in the Sports and Entertainment category for this award.

Here at home, I received the 2014 Legal Service Award from the Minority Bar Association of Western New York (MBAWNY.) As a past President of the MBAWNY and as the current President of the Minority Bar Foundation, this award and organization is very near and dear to my heart.

We do a lot of great things in the Western New York community to assist and educate diverse students, from grammar school all the way up to law school, about the advantages of getting a good education and performing well in the classroom. It is imperative that we continue to better the lives of these young men and women and do all that we can do to put them in a position to succeed in life.

Q: I couldn’t agree more. So, are there any other current opportunities for employment or involvement with Goldberg Segalla? Or perhaps for involvement in community efforts such as Bunkers in Baghdad?

A: Goldberg Segalla is always looking for talented, passionate individuals who want to work in a truly teamwork-driven environment. I would encourage anyone interested to look at the employment page on our website for current openings.

In terms of Bunkers in Baghdad, we would not be where we are today without the support and dedication of our volunteers. If it is an individual, specifically a student or a class at a local school that wants to help, we have a plethora of opportunities.

Our Bunkers Buddies Program has worked with more than 170 schools in 47 states across the country. The students in these schools help us collect and package golf equipment, draw pictures and write letters to our troops and wounded warriors, and assist us in our fundraising efforts.

We take great pride in the fact that we are able to teach these young men and women about giving back, helping others and getting involved in community service. For example, the Williamsville School District was the first group of schools that we worked with in 2008 and we have expanded nationally since then.

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Soldiers pose with new golf equipment provided through Bunkers in Baghdad

Q: So, what are you most looking forward to benefiting from as a member of the Partnership in the upcoming year?

A: I am looking forward to networking with all of the “movers and shakers” in this great community. There are so many talented individuals, from so many different walks of life, that could teach me how to be a better person, lawyer, and non-profit President.

The fact that the Partnership has so many different resources and opportunities in WNY is exciting and something that I am looking to take full advantage of in 2015.

To learn more about Bunkers in Baghdad, check out this great video interview with Joseph Hanna!

Interested in being a part of our Member Spotlight blog series?

Contact our Content Marketing Specialist, Julia Jornsay-Silverberg.