On Choosing Law and the Right Law Firm: Joseph S. Brown, Partner
Inspiration can be found anywhere. It’s all about perspective.
When Joseph Brown was in high school and figuring out what he wanted to be when he grew up, he found inspiration in history textbooks.
“I would always see the impact that attorneys had on U.S. history, from drafting the Constitution to the civil rights movement,” he said. “I initially envisioned myself going to law school to do legislative and public policy-oriented work on Capitol Hill.
“Then when I was working in the summer at a law firm, I had my first exposure to employment law, and I just discovered that people do interesting things at work. Understanding how to apply constantly changing employment laws to challenging workplace situations really fascinated me.”
A well-respected and seasoned litigator, Joe is a partner in Goldberg Segalla’s Employment and Labor practice group. He focuses his practice on representing management in all types of employment disputes, helping clients find solutions to the wide array of challenging and, often times, emotionally charged issues that arise in the workplace.
“For me, it really just starts with empathy,” he said. “It’s something I try to incorporate as part of my legal practice; putting myself in somebody else’s shoes, whether that’s my adversary, or my client.
“Emotions can run high in employment cases. Sometimes a client, on an individual level, will take a lawsuit personally and with good reason,” he said. “I really take pride in being able to get them through that process.”
Joe is equally as passionate about advancing diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the legal profession. That’s why Goldberg Segalla, he said, was the perfect fit.
“I’m happy to be here. I knew quite a few Goldberg Segalla lawyers coming in, and one of the things that’s always impressed me about the firm is its commitment to diversity and inclusion. I’m happy to see some of the strides that the legal profession has made over the years. A lot of firms are more cognizant of issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion. But action speaks louder than words. Goldberg Segalla has always struck me as a firm that takes the ‘action’ part seriously.”
The importance of inclusion and belonging is close to Joe’s heart.
“My youngest son was diagnosed with autism at the age of two,” he explained, “and he was able to get early services through the Summit Center, which provides important programs for individuals with autism.
“The one thing about being the father of an amazing young man with autism is that it really taught me to appreciate what makes every individual unique and special. One of the keys to diversity and inclusion is taking the time to truly appreciate our coworkers’ unique experiences. What makes someone special? What motivates them? How do you get the best out of them?”
Today, Joe serves as the VP of the Summit Center’s foundation board and is committed to helping improve the lives of others in need. Early in his career, he did so through providing pro bono work, but for the last decade, he’s focused his community involvement on board service. Joe also has served on the boards of Buffalo Prep, helping underrepresented youth achieve academic success, and Neighborhood Legal Services, which provides legal aid to vulnerable populations.
Again, it goes back to empathy, back to the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
It’s not only what makes Joe an effective attorney, but also an impactful mentor to those just starting out in the profession, especially people of color.
“I’m a first generation college student and biracial,” he said. “I had some folks help me along the way, so it’s always been important to me to give back to ensure that students of color are interested in the legal profession. That’s something that’s been a passion of mine since I got my law degree — working with students of color to help get them interested in a legal career and being a resource for them on their journey.”
Joe has served as president of both the Minority Bar Association and the Minority Bar Foundation, though, he says his willingness to help young attorneys — or those considering a legal career — extends beyond formal channels.
“I’m always happy to connect with a student on LinkedIn, or to grab coffee with somebody, just to be a sounding board for them,” he said. “It’s just something that’s important to me.”