As David Pfalzgraf looks out the window of his office in the historic Liberty Building, he sees two large construction cranes at work on the nearby Medical Campus in Buffalo. It is an inspiring sight that the managing partner of Rupp Baase Pfalzgraf Cunningham LLC Attorneys says sums up the firm’s view of the current state of practicing law in the Buffalo Niagara region.
“We have never been more encouraged or excited about the future of the business community in Western New York,” Pfalzgraf says. “We founded our firm more than 15 years ago in Buffalo with an entrepreneurial and opportunistic spirit meant to change some old habits in the way law is practiced. Now, more than ever, that same spirit is evident across the area with incredibly positive changes underway.”
A member of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership for several years, Rupp Baase is one of Western New York’s fastest-growing law firms with more than 35 attorneys and offices in Buffalo, Lockport, Jamestown and Rochester. The firm specializes in a wide variety of practice areas including corporate and business law, labor and employment law, commercial litigation and collections, as well as insurance defense and insurance coverage. Clients include some of the most recognizable names in industries from banking, insurance, and healthcare, to construction and manufacturing.
Born in Buffalo
The founding partners of Rupp Baase had previously worked together at one of Buffalo’s largest and oldest law firms. Pfalzgraf notes that while they practiced with some of the area’s best and brightest attorneys, traditional methods of practicing law often competed with the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit of the founding partners.
“We started our firm with the belief that we could take with us all of the best aspects of large firms and we could leave the bureaucracy behind,” he explains. “I think it has been our innovative and collaborative approach to the practice of law that has allowed us to grow so quickly.”
A Buffalo native, Pfalzgraf served in the United States Navy after earning his undergraduate degree from Miami University of Ohio. He was stationed in cities across the country, achieving the rank of Lieutenant (J.G.) before leaving the service to attend University at Buffalo Law School, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Buffalo Law Review. Despite living in cities such as San Diego and New Orleans during his Naval career, Pfalzgraf always knew that he wanted to return to Buffalo.
The right culture
The culture the founding partners at Rupp Baase desired to create for their firm parallels the culture in Western New York in many ways. Hard work and a fierce commitment to client service are balanced by creativity and a willingness to look at challenges differently in order to come up with the best solutions.
“Our firm’s motto is ‘Innovation in Practice’ – and that innovative and collaborative spirit contributes to the culture that we have created,” explains Pfalzgraf. “We have tried to strike a good balance between practicing law at a very high level while maintaining a culture that is second to none.”
Rupp Baase’s involvement with the Buffalo Niagara Partnership has continually grown and evolved over the years. In addition to sponsoring a number of Partnership events, the firm’s attorneys have been involved with Partnership initiatives such as BN360, the Partnership’s young professionals organization. Rupp Baase partner, Horace A. Gioia, serves on the Executive Committee of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership Can-Am Council. Firm partner Matt Miller is a member of the Partnership’s Executive Exchange.
Pfalzgraf says the firm’s membership has been very rewarding and they have landed a number of clients through their Partnership connections. “The number one reason we are a member of the Partnership is because we believe so strongly in its mission,” Pfalzgraf notes. “Membership offers a great opportunity to be part of the revolutionary and exciting changes underway in Western New York.”
Asked about what the firm sees as the top advocacy issues on which the Partnership should focus, Pfalzgraf points to human resources and health care costs for small to mid-size businesses. He explains that the firm recently recruited an attorney from New York City, testimony to the reputation and culture of the firm, but also perhaps related to the changing image of Western New York. “The renaissance is here in Buffalo and it will only help in our efforts to recruit the best lawyers from around the country,” he says.
The enthusiasm Rupp Baase shows for its Partnership membership is no surprise given the commitment the firm makes to giving back to the Buffalo Niagara community. Firm partners and associates serve on numerous boards including the Center for Hospice and Palliative Care, Evans Bancorp, the Buffalo Renaissance Foundation, and the Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo, to name a few. For the past two years, the firm has fielded the largest team of bicyclists for the Ride for Roswell, the annual fundraiser for cancer research at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
“We believe it is more about giving than getting when it comes to community involvement,” Pfalzgraf concludes. “Having said that, we are very appreciative of all the benefits we have received from our membership in the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.”
Interested in being a part of our Member Spotlight blog series ? Contact our Director of Member Engagement & Development, Liz Benkovich.