Lawyer-alum profile: Massimo D’Angelo (Political Science ‘04, Thomas M. Cooley Law ‘07)

Massimo D’Angelo
(Political Science ‘04, Thomas M. Cooley Law ‘07)
Associate Attorney
Adam Leitman Bailey, PC

What’s your current position and primary practice field(s)?
I am currently an associate at Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. in Manhattan where my main area of practice is real estate litigation.

How did you get here – what led you to this field and practice setting?
From when I was small, I always wanted to be a lawyer.  In fact, I distinctly recall a conversation that I had with my parents when I was about eight years old.  I was sitting in the backseat of my parents’ car and when my parents asked me what I wanted to be when I got older, I told them that I wanted to be lawyer.  At the time my parents thought that my answer was amusing, but growing up, my desire to become an attorney never wavered.  Plus, I was terrible at math, but I excelled in my political science, literature and history classes and I was pretty good at public speaking, so becoming a lawyer seemed like a logical choice. 

In high school I took an Honors class called Institute for Political Law and Education, a civics course, which involved the study and analysis of U.S. constitutional issues.  After competing against several other New Jersey high schools, our class was honored with representing the State of New Jersey at the annual We The People Competition in Washington D.C.  At the competition, my classmates and I argued on hotly contested political issues before the Senate Judiciary Committee against 49 other schools representing every other state.  Even though we took second place – losing to an all-girls school from Florida – the competition was an exhilarating experience for me and it was at this time that I knew that I wanted to be a litigator.   

Describe a typical day/week – what are the kinds of tasks you engage in on a regular basis?
Depending on my calendar, I am either in court for an appearance, mediation, arbitration, trial, etc., at another firm taking or defending a deposition, or in the office.  The great thing about being an attorney is that every case lends itself to a different set of facts and developing the various legal theories to advance on behalf of your client to be successful on a particular matter is what makes the job not only interesting, but fun at the same time. 

How many hours/week do you work? How’s that work/life balance thing working out for you?
I generally bill approximately 50-60 hours per week.  I love what I do so working long hours is not a problem for me.  I have a little girl who is almost three years old so I try to spend as much time with her and my wife as I can when I am not working. 

What do you like most about what you do? 
The thing that I like most about what I do is appellate work since it allows me to play a part in helping to develop the law.  My reported cases include the following:

  • Goldman v. Stein, 60 A.D.3d 902 (2nd Dept. 2009) (An employer’s mother-in-law was not his “parent” for purposes of statutory construction and therefore, should have been considered an “employee” under the New York Human Rights Law, allowing our client to meet the minimum employee threshold requirement to pursue a cause of action for unlawful termination);
  • Yuppie Puppy Pet Products, Inc. v. Street Smart Realty, LLC, 77 A.D.3d 197 (1st Dept. 2010) (A mortgagee has the right to intervene in an action where the named defendant, the mortgagor, had defaulted on its mortgage);
  • Nuzzo v. Horvath, 2011 WL 3795035 (N.J.Super.A.D.) (Correspondence that was transmitted from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to client property owner demanding client to pay for the remediation costs of a dam on client’s property constituted final agency action giving client the right to immediately sue, and although there were four separate remediation proposals with different costs, it did not render client’s damages speculative);
  • Lauren Klimko v. Vinyl Works Canada, 2012 WL 5187919 (N.J.Super.A.D.)(The Appellate Division upheld the jury’s defense verdict in a case where a small child sustained a serious laceration to her arm after falling from a pool ladder directly onto a lock that was attached to the gate of the pool);
  • Dabbagh v. Newmark Knight Frank Global Management Services, LLC, 2012 WL 4674644 N.Y.A.D. (1stDept. 2012) (The Appellate Court reversed the Lower Court’s decision granting defendants summary judgment finding that defendants lacked actual and/or constructive notice of the alleged puddle of water that caused her to slip and fall);
  • Wolff v. Best Buy, 2012 WL 5845579 (N.J.Super.A.D.) (The Appellate Division reversed the Trial Court’s ruling granting defendant store summary judgment ruling that plaintiff did not need an expert to show that the display shelf that she fell from amounted to a dangerous condition);
  • Westchester Mall, LLC v. Manoucher Hedvat, 2013 NY Slip Op 01400 (2nd Dept. 2013) (The Appellate Court reversed the Trial Court’s decision dismissing my client’s case after opening statement during a bench trial, finding that my client sufficiently made out a case for piercing the corporate veil, which would allow my client to pursue the representatives of the tenant entity personally on the basis of fraud and on based upon a showing that the tenant ignored corporate formalities);
  • Arthur at the Westchester, Inc. v. Westchester Mall, LLC, 2013 Slip Op 01509 (1st Dept. 2013) (Even though the guaranty on the parties’ commercial lease predated the principal obligation – the lease – by 28 days, it was not invalid for lack of consideration because the lease and guaranty were viewed contemporaneously in light of the fact that the tenant moved into the subject space and began operating its clothing business).

What was your proudest moment as an attorney?
The proudest moment that I ever had as a lawyer was making the front page of the New Jersey Law Journal.  In Pena v. Newell Funding, LLC, ESX-C-16-09, a groundbreaking decision in New Jersey, I successfully obtained an award of interim attorneys’ fees under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act in a case involving mortgage fraud.  This precedent-setting decision allows consumers, who do not otherwise have the pecuniary means, the ability to fight against mortgage fraudsters in what is now commonly referred to as Foreclosure Rescue Scams.

What do you wish you could change?
I don’t think that I would change anything.  Everyone makes mistakes on cases, and I am obviously no exception, but making mistakes I believe is what makes you become a better lawyer so long as you don’t make the same mistake twice.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Ultimately, I would like to own my own practice and start a reputable and successful firm, which is where I see myself 10 years from now.

Where did you go to law school? What’s your favorite memory from law school?
I attended Thomas M. Cooley Law School. My favorite memory from law school is my wife who I met in law school and even though she also attended UMass at the very same time that I did, we never met while we were at UMass.

What did you major in at UMass?  How has it been helpful to you your law career?
I majored in Political Science.  I think that studying politics helped me to develop leadership skills, refined my oral and written communication skills, and most importantly, taught me how to problem solve. 

What’s your favorite UMass memory?
There are so many.  If I had to pick one, it would have to be walking through campus during the fall. 

Did you take time before, during or after college?  If so, what did you do?
No.  I went to UMass directly after high school and started law school right after graduating from college. 

If you could have dinner with any lawyer, real or fictional, living or dead, who would it be and why?
I would have dinner with Chief Justice John Marshall because he played the most significant role in the development of our legal system.