Alumni Spotlight

Two Meals 12 Years Apart, Shared Respect for their Clinic Experience, and Opposing Clients Inspire New Downtown Firm

By by David Singer
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After they spent nearly a year opposing each other in a custody case, Kathleen “Casey” Copps DiPaola ’09 and Lorraine Silverman ’05 met for lunch. Both appreciated the other’s approach and performance during the case, and both of their clients felt that they had an opportunity to be heard. The stamped influence of their shared mentor, Professor Melissa Breger, and their experiences in the Family Violence Litigation Clinic, was evident.

“It was refreshing to work against someone like Lorraine,” said Copps DiPaola. “As mentees of Prof. Breger, we were taught the same way: strong ethics, listen, be prepared, respect family court like you would a federal court.”

“After the case I asked Casey to dinner to see if she wanted to join forces,” said Silverman, which eventually led to establishing Copps DiPaola Silverman, PLLC. “We were starting a new business and everyone was counting on us to succeed – and so those first few days were scary, but then it worked, the risks we took paid off, and it has been an amazing experience. But not for one moment have we forgotten all of the mentors who helped us along the way, which is why it is critical to us to pay it forward by continuing to mentor law students."

This wasn’t their first meal together. Twelve years earlier, Copps DiPaola was heading to Duke Law School. But her mother, Anne Reynolds Copps ’81, and her father, Carl Copps ’80, encouraged—“pleaded with”—their daughter to at least look at Albany Law School. Silverman, at the time a fellow in the Family Violence Litigation Clinic, was asked to take her to lunch with Professor Breger.

“Everyone knew I loved the Clinic,” Silverman said. “I never left the Clinic during law school. I told Casey everything that I did and everything she could do, and that in two years she could be in front of a judge advocating for a battered woman or protecting a child.”