Norman Solovay



The Solovay Practice
New York, NY 10016 USA
Industry: Law
                                                       Field: Alternative Dispute Resolution

Mr. Solovay initially resisted following in his lawyer-father’s footsteps, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Cornell University. Called to duty as a lieutenant in the Korean War by virtue of his ROTC service at Cornell, he was posted to the Psychological Warfare Center at Fort Bragg. However, when his family history caused him to be assigned as its legal officer, he surrendered and, after his services in the Army, he attended Columbia Law School.  There he served as an editor of the Columbia Law Review and graduated with top honors.  Joining the Rosenman Colin firm as a litigation associate right out of school, Mr. Solovay left after several years to get more hands on litigation experience.

After serving as a law secretary to then Justice Charles D. Breitel, Mr. Solovay formed, and for the largest part of his career, headed the litigation department of a then 15 lawyer firm with a unique practice for its size. As general counsel to Allen & Company and many of its corporate clients, as well as to the Onassis interests and others, Mr. Solovay’s litigation practice was an unusually diverse. The firm’s senior partner was chair of the American Arbitration Association, and it handled many important arbitrations.  One precedent setting uniquely long running and expensive international arbitration resulted in an invitation to him to author the first of his three alternative dispute resolution books.

Mr. Solovay’s firm eventually grew to 45 lawyers and his litigation department held 15, but it finally imploded by virtue of being too small for its big firm practice. He continued to litigate and remained on the National Trial Lawyers list of 100 best New York litigators for some time. But, he now far more highly values his election to membership in the selective National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals. It was based on his still growing reputation for resolving domestic and international disputes out of court by mediation where appropriate, but also by other increasingly popular settlement techniques discussed in his third ADR book, “The Internet and Dispute Resolution: Untangling the Web,” including collaborative law, med-arb, and online dispute resolution.

Mr. Solovay’s alternative dispute resolution (ADR) reputation led to accepting an invitation to chair the ADR practice of a well-known firm. However, possible conflicts led him to form his present ADR firm. There, he is still able to handle virtually all matters as in the past, but he now heads a unique specialized mediation organization as well as an international collaborative law organization and the U.S. branch of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce.

Conversation with Norman Solovay

Worldwide Publishing: On what topic(s) do you consider yourself to be an expert?

Norman Solovay:  Following a long litigation career, I have come to regard my present expertise as being in alternative dispute resolution, where in addition to achieving recognition as a mediator, I have become known for promoting med-arb (a combination of mediation and arbitration) and collaborative law.

What characteristics help to separate you from your competitors?

My broad litigation background permits me to appreciate more than many the advantages of settling rather than having a long, drawn-out litigation.  I have covered many areas as a litigation practitioner; that has given me knowledge in a somewhat larger number of areas in addition to mediation and arbitration.  I have special credentials in newly popular techniques such as med-arb and online dispute resolution.

What motivates you?

The bonds I form with my clients.

What lessons have you learned as a professional in your field?

The importance of settlements.

What is the most difficult obstacle or challenge you have faced in pursuit of your goals?

The most recent difficult obstacle was coming to a firm to head its dispute resolution practice, but finding that its litigators, like so many others, were far more interested in first following customary discovery and other procedures (coincidentally, of course, far more profitable than mediation).

How did you end up working in your current field?

My father was a lawyer and he assumed that I would follow in his footsteps. However, when I left college, I was sure that I wasn’t going to be a lawyer. I studied psychology and after college, having enrolled in ROTC, I was called into the service. I was assigned to the Psychological Warfare Center.  When I got there as a lieutenant, they made me legal officer for the center because my father was a lawyer and they were in need of one. I held that job for more than a year and found it to be such an interesting introduction to law.

What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of your profession?

When my client is happy and I receive a good result for him or her.

What advice can you offer fellow members or others aspiring to work in your industry?

I wish I had known that being a tough litigator was not as satisfying as being a good settler.

Who have been your mentors or people who have greatly influenced you?

Justice Charles Breitel.

Allen E. Brennecke


Brennecke, Allen 1444795

Allen E. Brennecke
Attorney at Law (Of Counsel)
Moore, McKibben, Goodman & Lorenz, LLP
Clemons, IA, USA
Industry: Law
Field: Business, Tax and Estate Planning

In 1959, Allen E. Brennecke was not only the first of his family to enter the field of law, but was also the first to finish college. Graduating from The University of Iowa with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, he went on to receive a JD from The University of Iowa College of Law in 1961. Throughout the course of his career, he learned that nothing could truly get in his way; he never saw anything as an obstacle. After serving for nearly 40 years as an attorney at law, Mr. Brennecke retired from the Moore Law Firm. While there, many of his days were spent speaking to other lawyers at continuing legal education meetings and at business meetings for farmers and farm owners.

Now retired, he considers being honored as the president of the Iowa State Bar Association and chair of the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association to be the highlights of his career. He is currently a Fellow of the American College of Tax Counsel and The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. In 1989, he was presented with the Award of Merit by the Iowa State Bar Association.

As a man who considers family top priority, Mr. Brennecke attributes his success to being blessed with a wonderful wife, five children and their spouses, 19 grandchildren, one great-grandchild, as well as good friends, and blessings from the Lord. A religious man, he also joined a men’s ministry called Promise Keepers approximately 15 years ago, which he describes as being “a great positive learning experience.” Looking toward the future, he hopes to continue to dabble in law. Continue reading

Vin DeFina


DeFina, Vin 1551940

Senior Vice President, Counsel, Head of Energy
Chicago Title Insurance Company
New York City, NY, USA
Industry: Law
Field: Title Insurance

While attending Brooklyn Law School, and later while attending NYU School of Law, Vin DeFina maintained an interest in the field of real estate, and now, with nearly 30 years of experience, he serves as a senior vice president, counsel and Head of Energy in the New York City office of the Chicago Title Insurance Company. He has expertise in title insurance underwriting, claims and sales on all commercial asset types of property, including and specializing in energy assets such as wind farms, solar farms, hydro, fossil fuel plants, and geothermal energy. Utilizing his skills, Mr. DeFina oversees transactions from beginning to end to make sure title closes timely and smoothly. He also provides marketing for the business. Serving as the chief energy officer in the New York City National Office, he also takes many trips nationally to meet with clients and attend conferences.

Mr. DeFina earned a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Queens College of the City University of New York, a JD from Brooklyn Law School in 1973 and a Master of Laws from The New York University School of Law in 1980. He passed the bar exam in three different states: New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. In addition to his role with Chicago Title Insurance Company, Mr. DeFina has been heavily involved in contributing time to his community in Greenwich Connecticut such as in the drafting of the Greenwich Emergency Medical Service contract between the Town of Greenwich and the GEMS Ambulance Service. He has also been a member of the Greenwich Board of Health for 16 years, serving as chairman for two years, and served on the advisory board of St. Catherine’s of Sienna Parish as president.

Mr. DeFina attributes his successful career to hard work, perseverance, his ability to get along with people and family support. He oftentimes serves as a guest lecturer for the NYU Real Estate Institute, Pace Law School, and the University of Connecticut MBA Program. Continue reading

Jacob T. Erickson, Esq.


Erickson, Jacob

Smith, Paulson, O’Donnell & Erickson, PLC
Monticello, MN, United States
Industry: Law
Field: Family Law and Criminal Defense

“I care about my clients. They are each an individual person to me and their problems are real. Everyone is important,” says Attorney Jacob T. Erickson, JD of his career as a lawyer in family law and criminal defense. Mr. Erickson handles cases that focus primarily on divorce, child custody, child protection and child support amongst other law matters. In addition, Mr. Erickson serves criminal defense clients, and as a former prosectuor, he is able to offer highly competent protection of constitutional and statutory rights. He is a seasoned lawyer with more than 10 years worth of experience. For the past two years, Mr. Erickson has been a partner at the firm Smith, Paulson, O’Donnell & Erickson, PLC.

Mr. Erickson received a JD from William Mitchell College of Law in Saint Paul in 2003. Later that same year, he was admitted to practice law in the state of Minnesota. He always possessed the inclination to help others, especially those in crisis, and became involved in the profession of family law and criminal defense so he could help people in a meaningful way. By the time he was a teenager, Mr. Erickson knew that he wanted to pursue the career path of a lawyer. One of his college advisers aided this pursuit by placing a belief in him that he would make a great lawyer. He is licensed to practice in the Federal District Court for the State of Minnesota, as well as all county and appellate courts in Minnesota. In addition, Mr. Erickson is a former city prosectuor.  He attributes his success in the industry to his keen focus and care for his clients. Mr. Erickson stresses that he does not judge his clients and believes each of them to be a good person, no matter what case he is handling. He has been fortunate enough throughout his career to have mentors. “Everyone I’ve worked with has taught me something,” explains Mr. Erickson. He cites that the second firm he worked at taught him to be a people-person and to learn from everyone he possibly could. Mr. Erickson also mentions retired Judge Thomas Poch, a family friend, as someone who taught him to build up his arguments and make a case, and to “put the time in to build [the argument] and make it right.”

Mr. Erickson’s genuine enthusiasm with lending his services to help others stems from his motivation to have “the opportunity to make a difference in the world.” He maintains the notion that each client is important and each individual case matters. Often, Mr. Erickson’s clients may find themselves in serious cases of misdemeanor or child protection, and he gives all of them the same courtesy and care. After years in the business, Mr. Erickson is aware of the impact that these cases can have on a person’s life and future, and makes it his mission to find a positive resolution.

“The hardest thing is that law school doesn’t teach you how to be an attorney. You have to find other attorneys to help you,” explains Mr. Erickson of the challenges he has faced in pursuit of his thriving career. “You have to go out there and learn from judges and other attorneys. [School] doesn’t teach you how to argue. You don’t really have real-world experience until you do it yourself, and see how courts and other lawyers function and work.” Another issue facing the law profession is consistency. “There becomes a point where being a lawyer or judge becomes routine and you’re not thinking. It’s not a science, and you can’t do it the same every time. Even though the facts might be the same, every case is different. It’s a gamble, there’s no rhyme or reason to it.” Mr. Erickson’s advice to upcoming lawyers in the field of family law or criminal defense is to work harder and be smarter than the opposing side. The success of a case is awarded to the attorney who fights for it. He also reccommends being prepared for the daily onslaught of potentially heartwrenching stories. “You have to be resilient to deal with human misery. You are subjected to hear and see bad things daily. People are in a state of chaos, and you can’t get mad or upset otherwise you do the client a disservice,” Mr. Erickson advises.

Mr. Erickson is affiliated with the Federal Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the Minnesota State Bar Association and the John E. Simonett American Inn of Court. Due to his outstanding efforts in the field, Mr. Erickson has been recognized with various honors. In 2014, he was listed in both the Ten Best Attorneys for the State of Minnesota for the American Institute of Family Law Attorneys and the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys. Mr. Erickson has been acknowledged in the Top 40 Under 40 in The National Trial Lawyers, and from 2009 through 2010 was named as one of the Top Young Attorneys from Super Lawyers. In addition, he has a Superb Rating on

In the years to come, Mr. Erickson intends to expand the firm and continue to do what he loves, which is helping all his clients find a brighter, happier future.