Joseph Bavaro

“Even when there’s no monetary incentive, I try to help. Money feeds the physical; helping without being paid feeds the soul.”

“I love the challenge of proving people wrong. We’re not ambulance chasers. I prefer to say: ‘Let me show you how much I can do for you; how much I care. I show it with my actions more than my words.’

“My parents are the role models that embodied my ideal of who I wanted to be. Their work ethic and priorities were beyond reproach. My mom had a full scholarship to CUNY but, because she had to support her family, took a secretarial job with a local lawyer. When I was sick my mom took me to work with her because she couldn’t afford to take a day off. My dad was an immigrant who came to this country in his teens. Although he didn’t have an education, he was frequently sought out by community members for his advice. I learned that perspectives to a situation are unique to the person and don’t require a formal education.

“My mother’s boss impressed me as someone who was an advocate for those who do not come from privilege. People came to him with all sorts of problems and he solved them. My family had already indicated that I should be the attorney in the family. I was not much of an academic but had to read To Kill a Mockingbird for school. The book and the main character, ‘Atticus Finch,’ resonated with me. Finch, like my mother’s boss, had a high moral compass. Despite everything Finch was faced with, he did what was right. The community was against him, his family was threatened but he stayed true to himself for what he felt was right. Ultimately, Finch did not prevail in the courtroom, but he exposed the injustice in the system – which, in the end, was the greater victory. Building on Atticus Finch’s example, I like to get the small victories for my clients, because those victories loom the largest.

“Those early experiences affect the way I look at things today: my career choice and the people I respect and admire. My colleague Marvin Salenger always says, ‘What does the case really mean? What’s it about?’ and ‘What would you want someone to say about it if it were your mother and father?’ Our clients come from families just like ours. It’s a privilege and honor to be able to give a voice to someone whose voice is not as loud and clear as your own.

“I went to law school because I wanted to help people. After I finished at Quinnipiac Law School, I worked for The Honorable Louis San Giorgio. Judge San Giorgio was a Supreme Court Justice who managed all the courts while serving as the acting administrative judge on Staten Island. Judge San Giorgio made sure I saw as many trials as possible—on every kind of civil matter. That experience gave me the certainty that I wanted to be ‘that guy’ — the litigator. The judge suggested that if I wanted intensive litigation experience then I should join the Staten Island District Attorney’s office. I became the lead prosecutor in the Sex Crimes Special Victims Unit.

“I owe a lot to Judge San Giorgio. His lessons to me go back to the mission of what we do as human beings — help each other in times of need and strife. Your soul gets fed for doing good work. Every day our firm gets calls from people wondering if they have a case. While many of these people don’t, I still try to help them. They are not of privilege and may not have a family attorney so I advise and do what I can. Even when there’s no monetary incentive, I try to help. Money feeds the physical; helping without being paid feeds the soul.”