Pittsford lawyer: Not afraid of new challenges
By Ernst Lamothe Jr.
Q: What made you want to become a lawyer?
A: My father had a successful law career for 45 years primarily managing criminal defense and civil suits. I saw him firsthand when I was a teenager watching what he was doing in trials. I think it just entered my subconscious combined with my desire to help people, which made me gravitate to the law profession.
Q: What are some of the biggest changes in law you have seen over the years?
A: Technology changed everything. Whether it is criminal law or plaintiff personal injury, we have the ability to access so much more. Even in our investigations, you have airbag modules that can record what happens in a crash. We went from typewriters, word processors and carbon paper to being able to look up cases and records on our mobile phones. Information is literally at our fingertips.
Q: What are some of your notable cases?
A: I fought against national corporations like General Motors, Dupont Chemical Company and even locally against the County of Monroe, New York State and others. With the Dupont Chemical Company, they were accused of dumping toxic chemicals in Wayne County that were damaging farmers’ crops and seedlings. Some of those deadly chemicals were killing the crops. We found evidence in the pond runoff and they settled. This case taught me how to step outside my comfort zone. With General Motors, they had faulty seat belts. After winning these cases, we built a fairly good practice and were able to help a lot of people.
Q: What keeps you practicing today?
A: I am still interested in the law. The fact that it continues to evolve and there are so many important causes that you can fight for and help people. When I started, it was just my dad and I operating a small shop law firm. Now being part of a larger firm gives me the opportunity to do so much more. Working with Martin, Harding & Mazzotti started with a connection that we had years ago. The company has more lawyers and paralegals that are attached to cases and it makes me want to hang around and grow together. I have no plans to retire anytime soon.
Q: What do you do with your spare time?
A: I have a vegetable garden that I love working on. I enjoy playing golf weekly and my son is joining us now. I love going to Rochester festivals.
Q: What advice would you give to people who are thinking about going into this profession?
A: I have truly enjoyed practicing law, but it is not for everyone. You have to understand that you go to work every day not to satisfy yourself but to help people. You can’t be selfish and sometimes that means putting your client’s needs above your own when it comes to your time. You may have to postpone a vacation to prepare for trial or deposition. Your level of preparation has to be excellent because you are defending another person. You have to be motivated and devoted. Not everyone is built that way. For me it was worthwhile work in every sense of the word.
Q: Why do you think being flexible to change is essential as you age?
A: Change is important over the years because change is inevitable. I am the kind of guy who thinks you can always polish a stone a little brighter. You can make things a little better if you are ready for a challenge. There is always a new way to do something and it is exciting to reinvent yourself as you get older. You want more challenges in life. I think that is what keeps your mind healthy and what gives you satisfaction. There are people who are older who are in their second or third careers and they bring all the knowledge and experience they have from those careers. They were not afraid to make those changes in life and challenge themselves and neither am I.
Photo: Norman Palmiere, a Pittsford lawyer, has practiced law locally for more than 30 years and won prominent cases against large companies. His law firm — The Palmiere Law Firm — has been recently acquired by Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP, a personal injury law firm based in the Capital Region to expand into the Rochester market.