“Corporations do what’s best for the shareholders, more than what’s best for the people. Insurance companies are like that as well. They have the shareholders in mind.”
Associate Christopher Pogan attended college with an eye toward working in business, but before long came to the realization that working in a corporate setting wasn’t really what he wanted to do. “Corporations do what’s best for the shareholders, more than what’s best for the people. Insurance companies are like that as well, with shareholders uppermost in mind. Representing the plaintiff in personal injury cases, I get to have a tangible result of helping people who are at a bad time in their lives.”
One of four children, Chris was the first in his family to graduate from college. “Neither of my parents went to college, nor did their parents. My mom’s family emigrated from Greece, and owned a diner.” Chris’s father was a member of Union Local 237 working for the Department of Environmental Protection as an inspector for water meter fraud. “They encouraged us to go to college and my grandparents zealously attended every graduation,” he recalls. His siblings have since earned a PhD and an MBA.
A Hicksville, Long Island native, Chris attended the Honors College at Adelphi University with an academic scholarship. While interning in the office of then Nassau County Comptroller Howard Weitzman, he met an attorney who sparked his interest in studying law.
The Honors College Dean Richard Garner further helped to steer Chris’s career. “Where I was coming from, I wasn’t sure that law school was realistic for me, but Dr. Garner helped me to understand that it was, and encouraged me to pursue my dream.” Chris went on to study at St John’s Law. He discovered his interest in personal injury and employment law (representing labor) during an internship in his second year of law school. “Employment law and personal injury are similar in their defense of the little guy.”
Chris’s parents have been an inspiration to his career and to his life in general. “My dad was a big fan of Mohammed Ali and introduced me to him, both as a boxer and for the way stood up to the government. It made a huge impression on me. Ali came from nowhere and rose to the top without sacrificing what he believed in. My mom was disabled, so I know what a struggle it can be for someone with medical problems. This also influenced me to want to help people in similar situations. I’ve learned to love to fight for the underdog.”
One interview at Salenger Sack was all Chris needed to decide that it was the firm for him. His knowledge of labor law and the unions fit perfectly with the firm’s case load and growth areas. Today Chris plays a significant role in the construction cases and often works with the Steamfitters Union. “Construction workers suffer a huge economic loss when an injury causes them to be physically unable to perform their job. Tradespeople like to work with their hands and do other physical work. They may not have the opportunity to work a desk job.” Chris has also earned recognition for his solid work in discrimination cases.
Overall reputation is of paramount importance to Chris. “We have to build and maintain strong relationships with our adversaries. We are always going to be dealing with the same defense lawyers. If you show that you’re reasonable, you earn trust because it’s a small pool and reputation is everything. Marvin Salenger and Bob Sack have built such a huge reputation and as one of the younger attorneys at the firm, one of my long-term goals is to maintain and grow that reputation.”
Baseball is a lifelong passion for Chris, who is a certified umpire. “It’s a huge love. What I’ve learned as an attorney—dealing with confrontation and mediating on both sides, taking a step back and viewing independently– are the same skills I call upon on the field. Even though I’m a plaintiff’s lawyer, I have to see both sides. Our rule is to be honest with the client—avoid telling them what they want to hear and be upfront about the chances of the case. If you inflate rather than manage expectations, it may get you the case but in the long run that never works out. I prefer to under promise and over perform.”