Q&A With Buffalo Business First 40 Under 40 Honoree Christina G. Holdsworth
The list, which is produced annually by Buffalo Business First, honors 40 professionals who are under 40 years old who dominate their workplaces and give back to their community. To be considered for nomination, Buffalo Business First looks at a list of factors, including career achievement, leadership, initiative, and community engagement.
In this Q&A, Christina shares more insight on her career, how she serves the community, and her advice to future attorneys.
What drew you to your career in the law?
My passion for reading, writing, and constructing arguments through language led me to a career in law. I’ve always been a lifelong learner and bookworm, and attended the University at Buffalo where I received my bachelor’s in English before going on to pursue my juris doctor from UB Law School.
During my first year as a law student, I caught the attention of my research and writing professor. Through hard work and a natural knack for investigating, I found an obscure case to support a nuanced legal argument. The professor was so pleased that she recommended me for a job as a law clerk at a local law firm.
In June 2015, I accepted a position as an associate at Goldberg Segalla―a law firm known for creating a positive culture for employees and the best results for clients. It is also a firm with cutting-edge legal resources, which I knew would help me expand my investigation and research skills.
What have you focused on at GS?
My practice focuses on defending not-for-profits, local businesses, and individuals in a range of general liability claims. I have defended clients against personal injury lawsuits in venues all throughout New York.
In addition to general liability claims, I handle sensitive and high-stakes sexual tort cases. I’m an emerging authority within this practice area, and regularly author articles on legal news and trends concerning my practice, such as “How Layers Can Help Clients Prevent Sexual Abuse and Handle Claims” in the Buffalo Law Journal.
I also specialize in defending mental hygiene agencies, specifically those that serve children and the developmentally disabled. I have authored articles discussing important issues affecting these agencies, including “For the defense: A case for OPWDD” in the Buffalo Law Journal. I also present on litigation trends specific to mental hygiene and Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) agencies.
How have you worked to serve your community outside of your practice as an attorney?
Throughout my youth, I knew that Western New York lacked the kind of lesbian venues that are central to fostering support for a region’s LGBTQ community. That’s why, in 2012, inspired by LGBTQ “bar takeovers” happening in other cities, I co-founded Ambush Buffalo. Ambush Buffalo is social group where LGBTQ and allies “ambush” a straight bar in the spirit of connecting over friendship, business, romance, and more.
To this day, Ambush remains the largest social network organizing within the Western New York LGBTQ community, attracting between 200-300 people every month from all corners of Western New York, as well as from Rochester, Pennsylvania, Canada, and beyond. Ambush has also collaborated with law firms and financial firms to host informational seminars and professional development opportunities for the lesbian community. For instance, following the nationwide legalization of marriage equality for LGBTQ couples, I partnered with my former law firm to host a seminar on the legal ins and outs of the decision. My commitment to Ambush Buffalo has landed me profiles in numerous local news outlets, including Buffalo Business First, Buffalo Spree, Loop Magazine, and Buffalo Rising, as well as in The Advocate—the largest LGBTQ magazine in the United States. I was particularly honored to be selected as a Buffalo Boss Babe in 2018 due to my work for the LGBTQ community.
In addition to my work for the LGBTQ community, I have served the greater Western New York region in other capacities, including, the Erie County Charter Revision Commission (ECCRC). In 2016, the Erie County Sheriff appointed me to this highly selective commission (there are generally less than 20 total available positions), and shortly thereafter, my leadership capabilities were recognized by my fellow appointees when I was elected to serve as ECCRC secretary. I also serve on the Executive Committee of the Erie County Republican Committee. In a more informal capacity, I’m a member of the Republican Lawyers Group, where we discuss, among many things, potential judicial nominations.
What resources are available for young people who might want to follow your path into the law?
I would recommend that young people get involved in a mentoring program or an alumni group that offers mentoring opportunities. It makes all the difference to have a trusted mentor with whom you can share your questions and concerns. I am involved in a few groups that focus on serving those pursuing a career in law, including the SUNY Buffalo Law Mentor program, which pairs established attorneys with first- and second-year law students. In this role, I mentor young women pursuing a career in law, and assist with reviewing writing samples and resumes, recommend professional development opportunities, and advise on the specific issues that pertain to being a woman in the legal community. I was previously a member of the University at Buffalo Law School Alumni GOLD Group, an arm of the UB Law Alumni Association focused on encouraging participation and involvement by recent School of Law graduates in the Law Alumni Association and its programs and events.
In particular, the Women’s Bar Association of Western New York is a great resource for up and coming female attorneys or law students. It is a very welcoming and helpful group with lots of attorneys willing to mentor or just answer your questions.