Mark S. Klein, the new chairman of Buffalo-based Hodgson Russ, considers it to be "the pre-eminent law firm in Western New York" - and he hopes to "keep it that way."
"There's a reason why this firm has been around for 201 years," Klein said on Friday. "We work hard for our clients and we are proud that many people choose us when they have a choice to make."
Klein, 60, is widely considered one of the leading tax law experts in New York state. He is an Amherst resident who graduated from Sweet Home High School, Buffalo State College and University of Buffalo Law School.
Representing major corporations and high-wealth individuals in New York City, Buffalo and Florida, he has worked for Hodgson Russ for 35 years. Klein has written five books about New York state tax issues, and has taught courses on state taxation at the UB School of Management. He has spoken publicly many times on issues involving state, federal and local taxes.
Klein recently succeeded Daniel C. Oliverio, a former federal prosecutor, criminal defense lawyer and business litigator who had served as chairman for six years. Both Oliverio and Klein said chairpersons at the law firm generally serve six years.
"I recently turned 62 and it was time to turn the chairman's job over to the next guy," Oliverio said. "I enjoyed my time as chairman, but I was spending about one-third of my time on chairman's duties and two-thirds on litigation. I'm looking forward to be a full-time litigator, something I really enjoy."
Hodgson Russ is a "healthy, vital law firm," Oliverio said, adding that "we had a spectacular year in 2017 and are on our way to another in 2018."
Considered the largest Buffalo-based law firm with about 200 lawyers, Hodgson Russ has been known by several different names since it was founded in 1817. Presidents Millard Fillmore and Grover Cleveland were among the lawyers who worked at the firm over the past two centuries. Hodgson Russ also has offices in New York City, Toronto, Albany, Saratoga Springs and Palm Beach, Fla..
The law firm is one of the busiest in the state in terms of representing state and local government agencies. According to state records, the firm has donated nearly $225,000 to political candidates and committees over the past five years.
Klein also noted that the firm has given time or financial support to more than 250 charity and community organizations in recent years. In 2015, the firm received an award from the State Bar Association for providing free legal services to impoverished clients. Klein said he is proud of the role the law firm plays in the community.
"One of my goals is to expand our brand, and make sure people know they can get the same high-quality legal work they can get anywhere in the world, right here in Buffalo," Klein said.
Managing partner Rick W. Kennedy continues as the law firm's president.