7 Questions for Goldberg Segalla’s Alexis Close
In February, Goldberg Segalla announced it had added Alexis Close to its workers’ compensation practice in Buffalo, New York.
She had previously been across town with Collins and Collins.
Risk & Insurance recently caught up with Close to get her take on her career.
Risk & Insurance: What led you to a career in law?
Alex Close: I always wanted to be a lawyer, since I was about 12.
My father encouraged that from the start. He was always my strongest supporter and role model. He worked his entire adult life for Dresser Rand, out the door at 7 a.m.
I earned my bachelor’s degree from Buffalo State College. My mother also went there.
I worked as a teacher after my undergraduate degree, before law school. I loved the kids, but like many natives of western New York, I thought I needed a little sunshine, and I wanted to get on with my law career.
So I took my JD from the Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law in Orlando, Florida, which is part of Barry University. Orlando is very spread out.
I stayed in central Florida after graduation and taught school for a while, but I missed New York. I missed the change of seasons. It might sound crazy, but I missed the weather.
R&I: What does your practice entail now?
AC: I joined a very big workers’ comp practice at GS that is still growing.
I counsel and defend employers, insurers and third-party administrators in all stages of workers’ compensation litigation, from intake through trial and appeal.
I am lucky to be able to draw on the experience I gained in legal research, drafting pleadings, requesting and reviewing medical records, preparing depositions and preparing matters for trial while working as a paralegal at several different private law firms.
R&I: What drew you to workers’ compensation and litigation?
AC: I was drawn to workers’ comp when I was a paralegal. The cases and the trials were about very specific issues and points of law.
R&I: How has the pandemic changed the way you practice?
AC: Workers’ comp law was really out in front of other areas of specialization.
We had virtual hearings in place already, so we were able to accelerate that.
All in all, it’s worked well. We did have something of a surge of COVID-related claims early in the pandemic, but that has diminished.
R&I: Respecting client confidentiality, as always, please tell us about any recent notable cases in which you were involved.
AC: There was just one involving a controverted matter; it had been written off as an occupational disease.
We drew the judge’s attention to details that had been overlooked. It demonstrated two things I like about workers’ comp and litigation. First, if there is something that rubs you the wrong way, go with your instinct. Also, don’t shy away from an uphill battle. That is what you are being paid to do.
Regardless of the outcome, the tough cases are the ones where you work together and build relationships with the client.
R&I: Can you offer any broad best practices for clients when working with their attorneys?
AC: Clear communication is always the first thing.
Know the outcome you want at the start of the case. You want to know where you are going before you start the journey. Don’t leave the outcome to the system.
Knowing the outcome you want means you can better come to some agreement with opposing counsel, or if the case goes to trial, you can make more concise arguments. You can focus on key points of contention before the law judge. There is always a better outcome with active and involved clients.
R&I: Your offices are in downtown Buffalo?
AC: Yes. Goldberg Segalla was founded here in 2001.
Now it has 20 offices around the country from Manhattan to Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami. But the headquarters are on Main Street, opposite the historic Shea’s Theater.
I was originally from the Southern Tier of New York, around Corning-Elmira.
Western New York is a great place to live. There is an active outdoor lifestyle all year round. It’s a great sports town, and it really is “The City of Good Neighbors.”
The food is amazing, it’s a great community, and a great place to raise a family. &