By: Nandini Chowdhury | Staff Writer
Robert M. Link, Esq. is an accomplished attorney who is currently a partner at David A. Gallo & Associates LLP in Rego Park, New York. Mr. Link is a 2009 graduate of The CUNY School of Law. In addition to practicing commercial litigation, Mr. Link handles foreclosure, bankruptcy, and various real estate matters. Staff Member Nandini Chowdhury had the opportunity to gain insight into Mr. Link’s work in commercial litigation and receive valuable advice for law students who may be interested in becoming litigators.
NC: How did your background prepare you for commercial litigation practice?
RL: I spent my final year in law school representing victims of domestic violence as part of a pro bono clinic program. It was an excellent opportunity to work with clients and get accustomed to the court system, handling pragmatic tasks like filing petitions, arguing in court and sitting down with clients to understand a fact pattern and figure out how to apply it to the law.
NC: What is your experience with Commercial Division practice?
RL: Recently, I’ve represented commercial tenants in Yellowstone actions, which typically involves the landlord’s effort to evict a commercial tenant over failure to comply with a legal clause in the lease. For example, the tenant’s failure to close a permit or the filing of improper application for alteration. Like other areas of practice, it requires command of complex fact patterns, you need to not only understand the facts, but what actions lead to the current circumstances and how that can be remedied. The practice also requires both a long and short term strategy. You need to understand the positive and negative consequences of filing a detailed client affidavit at the onset of litigation or responding to discovery in a particular manner. You also need to make sure all of your potential witnesses share the same view early in the litigation and adjust your strategy in accordance with their outlook.
NC: In your opinion, how is the Commercial Division different from the other courts you appear in?
RL: It’s a very efficient and organized part in my experience. I’ve been assigned extremely high caliber judges and the court staff is typically efficient and helpful provided you take the time to thoroughly review the part rules.
NC: In your opinion, what makes commercial litigation unique compared to the other types of law you practice?
RL: You are always making considerations to protect the business and resolve cases efficiently. The court understands this and you will get thoughtful decisions back more quickly. I also handle contested foreclosures, which is an extremely different practice that is extremely inefficient and presents its own challenges. For instance, the foreclosure part is almost 30% of the civil docket so the calendar call is typically more congested and, in most cases, you won’t present oral arguments in support of your motion for summary judgment. Those motions are made on submission and can sit in the law department for a decision for a year. In foreclosure, there are fewer motion sequences, the cases rarely go to trial, and discovery is much more limited.
NC: What would you say your ingredients to success are?
RL: Pay attention to details. Speak with your witnesses early and often. Review the documentary evidence closely. Have a plan A and plan B for how you intend to prosecute or defend the case, and be prepared to make adjustments through the discovery process.
NC: Did you have an interest in commercial litigation while you were in law school?
RL: No, I was involved in politics and election law practice and, after law school, started practicing foreclosure and bankruptcy law. After a few years, I developed a relationship with a large Manhattan firm that hired me to be co-counsel. After handling a few cases with them, our firm expanded to handle more commercial litigation matters.
NC: What advice would you give to current law students?
RL: If you are going to be a litigator, you need to understand court rules and the CPLR. Law school and bar prep teaches you to spot issues and research. To successfully practice law, you need to understand the rules of the practice. You have to file the right motion at the right time, present the right defenses, and anticipate how your adversary is going to respond. You will learn all this with time, but you will be well served to study the CPLR before finding yourself at a crossroads in the middle of litigation.