Through Passion, Grit and Service to Others, Danny Velez is Committed to Helping GS Grow
Sometimes, you look for a sign. Sometimes, the signs are everywhere you look.
While working at a medium-sized law firm in Suffolk County, Danny Velez crossed paths with a former colleague who had just been brought into the fold at Goldberg Segalla and was raving about the firm’s culture and talent. At the same time, Goldberg Segalla partner Emilio Grillo was serving as counsel for a co-defendant on one of Danny’s cases. After convincing the plaintiff and her counsel to discontinue the entire case, Emilio and Danny started talking about Danny coming on board at GS.
The rest, as they say, is history — and a very successful one at that. Danny joined Goldberg Segalla in August 2017, and now six-years later, he serves as vice chair of the firm’s Retail and Hospitality practice group.
“I am blessed to work with a strong, diverse and supportive group of colleagues,” Danny said. “I am incredibly hopeful to continue to not only witness, but actively participate in the sustained organic growth of GS.”
Interestingly, a career in law is not something his tight-knit Latino family had in mind for Danny. His parents and grandmother hoped he would become an engineer. However, as Danny tells it, “one too many” high-level physics and calculus classes at New York University led him to instead explore, and ultimately major in, Psychology, from which he then pursued paralegal jobs in the areas of Marital Law, Entertainment Law, Corporate Reorganization and Bankruptcy and Personal Injury on the plaintiff’s side. He then continued on to law school, where one teacher, in particular, left an indelible impact on him.
“I was fortunate to have the infamous Aaron Twerski as my Torts professor, who sparked my interest in the subject by running up and down the aisles with utter enthusiasm for negligence, despite being in his 70’s,” Danny recalls.
As his march toward a career in law continued, Danny was soon “humbled” by the opportunity to intern at State Farm Insurance, and with the Honorable Judge Sallie Manzanet-Daniels in Bronx Supreme Court. Those experiences, he said, helped him “develop a taste for litigation defense, its rhythm and the addictive reward associated with achieving positive results.”
Once again, the rest is history.
At Goldberg Segalla, Danny serves as counsel and defends high-profile retail and food industry corporations, insurance companies, and landowners handling a diverse range of litigation cases. Additionally, he is a member of the Goldberg Segalla’s Diversity Task Force, which strives to conceptualize and implement diversity-focused programs and give diversity a voice in our decision-making at the highest level.
“Not only does GS subscribe to DEI,” Danny said, “it is actively promoting DEI at all levels.”
Unfortunately, that’s not the case industrywide, as the legal profession continues to struggle to make ground in DEI.
“The statistics show that less than half of practicing attorneys are women when the population is at, or around 50 percent,” said Danny. “Men outnumber women in equity partner positions. Less than 5 percent of attorneys are Black and only approximately 10 percent of attorneys fall into other racial minority groups. At this rate, it will take at least 30 years for the demographics of the profession to catch up to the demographics of the U.S. population.
“More needs to be done,” he said, “to drive progress, including pushing students of diverse backgrounds to pursue careers in the legal profession and provide more opportunities for inclusion, such as internships and mentoring opportunities.”
That’s why Danny takes part in mentorship within his firm, and within his community.
“Navigating the legal profession can be overwhelming, like a child being born. Nothing short of a blooming, buzzing confusion,” he said. “Having a lifeline, someone with whom to speak candidly about work/life balance, molding and managing emotional intelligence and professional advancement is a crucial tool to provide the most optimal foundation to build upon for future success.
“While I have the distinct pleasure of serving as a mentor to some of my colleagues by showing them the ropes of civil procedure and litigation and mastering billing practices, my greater hope is to indirectly, and generally, serve as a mentor to all and create future leaders through my work habits, loyalty, grit and determination,” he said. “I have the pleasure of routinely visiting the Freeport School District where I grew up and was educated, and attend career days in elementary schools to shed light on the legal profession, encourage students to expand their minds and instill hope of the possibility that they too can attend law school if they choose and succeed.”
Danny’s passion for helping others succeed can be traced back to his family’s commitment to hard work, tenacity and education. His grandmother was a teacher in Cuba, and his mother was a teacher and school administrator in Freeport for more than 30-years. His father, meanwhile, founded a successful business from essentially nothing.
“My father came to this country at the age of 16 with less than the same amount of dollars in his pocket and has owned and run a successful landscaping business for over 40 years,” Danny said. “My grandparents learned the English language and, through their determination, opened and successfully operated a dry-cleaning business for over 40 years. The fuel in my work comes from a long lineage of grit.”
“I am of Puerto Rican and Cuban descent and my culture is a driving force for me, both personally and professionally. The Latino/a culture is entrenched in loyalty and passion. It is this very passion and loyalty that courses through my veins and, in many ways, provides an advantage that cannot be learned in any textbook or treatise. And, in this profession, advantage is opportunity.”