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On this page we share interviews by Board Member and
Labor & Employment Law Committee Co-chair Tejash V. Sanchala, Esq. 
with WCBA members about their experiences and insights.
The articles were originally published in the Member Spotlight column in
the WCBA's Westchester Lawyer magazine, We hope you are inspired by
their stories!

Tejash welcomes your comments and suggestions for future columns.
He can be reached here.

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James K. Landau, Esq.

 

 

My current job and practice area is: As of July 1, 2017, I returned to Westchester from New York City, joining McCarthy Fingar LLP as a commercial litigation partner in White Plains, New York.

How I became a business litigation and appellate attorney: My first job as an attorney in New York came as the only associate in a 13-attorney litigation boutique. Although the firm was small by New York City standards, we represented clients such as Cartier and Simon & Schuster. I found the work interesting and was hooked.

Favorite legal success stories: I spent several years working on the World Trade Center appraisal proceeding as part of a large team of lawyers representing the insureds. The appraisal proceeding arose out of the coverage case between many insurance companies and the insureds— the Port Authority, Silverstein Properties and Westfield. Over many years, we mediated and sometimes arbitrated each line item of construction budgets provided by construction experts in relation to a hypothetical rebuild of the Twin Towers, and Buildings 4 and 5 as was, right before the first jet hit on September 11th. Because of our efforts, we proved approximately $7 Billion in rebuilding costs, and that led to a settlement, which allowed the Port Authority and others to complete the building of what the WTC is today. I learned a great deal about construction and insurance coverage litigation, as well as the history of the construction of the WTC and the great and senseless loss of so many people on September 11th.

I was involved in a case for Cartier many years ago in a dispute with its landlord involving Cartier’s flagship store on 5th Avenue. While Cartier’s showroom was (and is) beautiful, the back rooms, where jewels were set, and other work was done was dirty, vermin infested and generally not up to code. Cartier’s lease had originally been entered into pre-1920 and had been renewed once in the 1940’s and was soon going to be renewed. Cartier had been paying way below market rent and the landlord wasn’t happy about it. Cartier wanted to do a gut renovation of the store, but needed the landlord’s approval, which could not be unreasonably withheld. The landlord failed to cooperate initially, and Cartier sued for specific performance under the lease. We sought a TRO and mandatory injunction directing the landlord to approve Cartier’s building department plans, so the project could go forward. Justice Shainswit decided that she needed a personal tour of the Cartier store. She was escorted to midtown, saw the horror that was in the back rooms, and the case was for all intents and purposes over.

If I were not practicing law I would be: Teaching law students and/or young lawyers how to be the best possible lawyers they can be.

People may be surprised to learn: I played inter-collegiate soccer at the University of Michigan (club -level).

My favorite legal website, blog or tool: I have handled several business divorce cases, and the first place I go when I get one of these matters is Peter Mahler’s New York Business Divorce Blog. https://www.nybusinessdivorce.com. Whenever I am drafting a complaint, I go to the New York Pattern Jury Instructions.

What I splurge on: Clothes, toys, games, etc. for my grandson, who just turned six (months).

The best hour of my day is: The hour immediately after getting home. I love to eat dinner with my wife and catch up on the day’s events.

Favorite movies: My Cousin Vinny; Young Frankenstein, Sleuth (the original with Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Déjà vu, Lucky Number Slevin (I won’t say the Godfather because everyone says that).

My favorite vacation was: My honeymoon at the Grand Hotel Paraiso in Rivera Maya Mexico with my wife.

Three things I can’t live without: My family, the law and sports (Michigan Football, in particular).

One of my favorite things to do in Westchester: Walking the three-mile loop at SUNY Purchase in the Fall.

Best advice I ever got: The truth will always come out – the cover-up is often worse than the original crime.

My advice to new lawyers: See immediately above. Also, treat everyone with respect. That goes for adversaries, support staff, the people who clean your office, etc.

One of my future ambitions is to: Help younger lawyers grow and prosper.

My favorite part of being involved with the WCBA: Working together with so many attorneys and Judges to improve the legal community in Westchester and beyond, now and in the future.




 


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