Meet Steven Yudin, Senior Counsel
This fall, Bernard D’Orazio and Associates welcomes Steven G. Yudin as Senior Counsel to the firm. Steven is a seasoned litigator with over 30 years’ experience in commercial and business, common carrier, employment and other litigation. He also has a unique specialty in attorney fees collection. Let’s get to know him a little better.
Q: Welcome, Steve! We are all wondering, after 30 years working at both big firms and in your own practice, what has brought you to Bernard D’Orazio and Associates?
A: A great opportunity professionally and personally! Bernard and I are long-time friends, and I have always respected him as an attorney. But what really tipped the scales for me in favor of joining the firm was that our practices are so complementary. I think together we could push the collection and judgment enforcement practice to a new level.
Q: Among other things, you’ve developed a unique practice, as special counsel assisting other law firms in collecting unpaid attorney fees. How did you end up getting into that practice?
A: About 10 years ago, a creditor’s rights attorney I knew in California asked me if I would be interested in handling a few attorneys’ fee collection cases in New York. I agreed, pursued those cases, and enjoyed the nature and challenge of the work. About a year or so later, the same attorney introduced me to a receivables expert in San Francisco who recommended me to serve as one of several New York collection counsel in the Heller Ehrman bankruptcy case. And that, inevitably, led to other such appointments, until it because its own niche practice for me.
Q: What’s it like being a lawyer for other lawyers?
A: At the end of the day, it’s really not unlike representing any other entity in a commercial litigation or collection case. Although the clients are attorneys themselves, I have found that they basically let you pursue the case on your own terms without micro-managing the work.
Q: Have there been unique challenges in handling attorney fee collection work in high profile law firm bankruptcies, as you’ve done in the past few years?
A: There are some unique challenges representing bankruptcy estates, the most compelling probably is when the attorney who handled the matter for the now-bankrupt firm, having moved on to another firm or moved in-house, has little, if any, interest in pursuing the collection for the benefit of a bankruptcy estate. This is particularly true, and compounded, when the attorney still represents the client.
Q: What is the most interesting case you ever worked on?
A: While I was with Reid & Priest, we prosecuted a massive international commercial fraud case on behalf of an individual who was defrauded of over $100 million by a high-profile financier. The case was based here in New York, but we litigated in many jurisdictions around the world and ultimately recovered tens of millions of dollars for our client. The challenges and hurdles in that case were numerous, but the pursuit of assets on such a global scale was truly exciting, and the results were really impressive.
Q: How do you see your practice developing now that you joined Bernard D’Orazio and Associates?
A: I expect to expand the attorneys’ fee collection part of my practice, and also look forward to tapping into my connections and relationships with a view towards generating more judgment enforcement work for the firm.
Q: The practice of law has certainly transformed in the last 10 to 15 years, with lawyers and law firms facing a whole new set of challenges from that of the prior generations. Do you have any thoughts or predictions about the extent to which legal practice is going to continue transforming in the coming years?
Large and mid-sized companies are increasingly keeping work in-house, and given the enormous and rising costs associated with employing private firms, I think the “in-house” trend will continue. Along the same lines, many companies are looking for flat fee or contingent fee arrangements with their attorneys, which of course will impact firms’ bottom lines and staffing needs.
Q: Finally, what do you consider your personal philosophy when it comes to client service?
A: My philosophy with client service has always been: “be accessible.” Many times, I have heard clients say that they were dissatisfied or frustrated with prior counsel because they were not reachable, or would not return phone calls. Many of my clients have my cell phone number, and I want them to understand that I genuinely care about their cases and am available when they need to talk.