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01.29.20

Meet Our 2020 Partner Class

BY NP Blog Team

The Nixon Peabody 2020 partner class represents the diverse pipeline of talent we have at our firm, and we embrace the unique qualities each of these attorneys bring to the table. Let’s get to know our new partners (effective February 1, 2020) as we ask them to share about their lives inside and out of the firm.


Photograph of Laura Bacon, Complex Commercial Disputes attorney, Nixon Peabody LLP, Chicago

Laura Bacon

Complex Commercial Disputes
Chicago

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I like to work on intricate contractual or statutory interpretation issues. What can I say, I started my career representing a multi-employer pension fund in ERISA litigation…it stuck with me.

What is your proudest accomplishment as a lawyer? After I had been practicing for about a year, I had the opportunity to argue before the 7th Circuit (federal appeals court) here in Chicago. It was intimidating and terrifying, and my memory of what I said standing at the podium is a complete blur. But once it was over, I felt like there was nothing I couldn’t take on. I still channel that energy when I am facing professional challenges that seem scary.

What are you passionate about outside of your legal practice? Raising two daughters to be the most kind and generous and self-assured people they can be.

What is something most people don’t know about you? When I was four years old, I memorized every word of the Chicago Bears’ “Super Bowl Shuffle,” complete with a dance routine and props. I had a little record player in my room (yes, a record player), and I remember playing the song over and over again, practicing my performance. This is still among my proudest accomplishments.


Photograph of Shariff Barakat, Community Development Finance, Washington, DC, Nixon Peabody LLP

Shariff Barakat

Community Development Finance
Washington, DC

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I became a lawyer because I wanted to be able to participate in and add value to big transactions. I’m a business guy at heart, and being a transactional attorney is my way of being a value-add member of deal teams.

I like to work on transactions that involve unique and novel facts and circumstances. We get really good as transactional attorneys at developing a sense of “market” terms and processes for deal execution. But the deals I enjoy the most are the ones with no precedents, in which the parties are developing their positions in real time, working collaboratively to appropriately allocate risk and reward. Everyone involved, including the attorneys, has an opportunity to contribute to a new deal structure and create precedent.

What are you passionate about outside of your legal practice? As a business guy at heart, I love learning about businesses and scoping out investments. Probably not most people’s idea of fun, but I spend a lot of my free time reading through financial statements, quarterly and annual reports, and generally learning about public companies so I can decide whether to make an investment.

What is the last book you read, movie you watched, or podcast you listened to? I recently discovered a podcast series called Business Wars, which chronicles certain business rivalries (e.g., Netflix vs. Blockbuster, Nike vs. Adidas, Nintendo vs. Sony, etc.). A recent series I listened to was called “Cereal Wars,” which described the evolution and history of the U.S. cereal industry. I had no idea that one of my favorite old school cartoons, Rocky and Bullwinkle, was sponsored by a cereal maker as a means of advertising cereal to kids. It was also fascinating to learn that cereal originally was actually a health food, and it morphed over time into the super sugary meal it is today usually.


Photograph of Katherine Baynes, Project Finance & Public Finance, Rochester, Nixon Peabody LLP

Katherine Baynes

Project Finance & Public Finance
Rochester

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I became a lawyer because I grew up watching my father act as the village justice in my hometown, and it sparked an interest in the law that never went away.

I like to work on complex project financings.

When I’m not at work, I’m driving my kids to their various activities.

What is the last book you read? Last week, I read The Better Sister by Alafair Burke, and this week, I am reading The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda. Even though I read a lot at work, I love to read in my spare time as well.


Photograph of Robert Fisher, Government Investigations & White Collar Defense attorney, Nixon Peabody LLP, Boston

Robert Fisher

Government Investigations & White Collar Defense
Boston

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I like to work on matters that allow me to negotiate and interact with state or federal agencies. As a former financial industry regulator and state and federal prosecutor, I have a deep understanding of the way agencies work and the best approach to getting positive results for NP’s clients.

What is your most memorable moment as a lawyer? My most memorable moment as a lawyer was when I had the opportunity to interview Neil Armstrong as part of an investigation I was handling as an AUSA. In 2010, a Customs and Border Protection employee stole an official government document that contained the personal information of Mr. Armstrong. In the process of investigating the matter, I needed to obtain a witness statement from Mr. Armstrong. Although the interview was over the telephone, and only about twenty minutes long, it is something I will never forget.

What sports or hobbies are you passionate about? My three kids are very active in theater, baseball, basketball, and soccer, and I am passionate about attending as many of their games and plays as possible. Although, I try not to be that dad that gets a bit to passionate on the sidelines.


Photograph of Kimberly Harding, Labor & Employment attorney, Nixon Peabody LLP, Rochester

Kimberly Harding

Labor & Employment
Rochester

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Why did you become a lawyer? I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer since I was three. I remember arguing with my mom at a very young age, and she said, “You should be a lawyer,” and I said, “Okay!”

I like to work on… I like working with my clients, even when it’s a challenging situation. They’re trying to do the right thing, and I like talking to them to come up with solutions—using the law to get to the right answer. My clients like to call me—I’m proud of that!

What are you passionate about outside of your legal practice? Outside of my practice, I spend a lot of time working in areas devoted to women’s rights and advocacy. I’m on the board of the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House, that’s where I’m most active. This year we’re celebrating the suffrage centennial and Susan B. Anthony’s 200th birthday.

What’s something most people don’t know about you? I love to spin. I’m actually a spin instructor. It’s a great outlet as a stress reliever, and there’s a real community in spin. I have regulars in my class all the time. You have to be very confident and very vulnerable as an instructor because everyone is watching you, you’re leading the class, and that helps with public speaking. I like that it’s something you’re always getting better at. The gym is one place where you’re getting better every time you leave.


Photograph of Brian Mahoney, Business & Finance attorney, Nixon Peabody LLP, Rochester

Brian Mahoney

Business & Finance Department
Rochester

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I became a lawyer because I wanted a professional challenge and a stable career. I wanted to work with business owners and decision-makers working at the highest level of sophisticated transactions. Working my way up the corporate ladder seemed like a long shot without going back to school to earn a professional skill.

I like to work on M&A tax structuring and negotiations, venture capital deals, and other financing transactions.

What sports or hobbies are you passionate about? I keep reef tanks in my spare time. I raise marine fish, invertebrates, and corals. It’s a challenging hobby that involves biology, chemistry, and engineering, so it’s rewarding when you get to see these marine habitats flourish and grow in your living room.

What is something most people don’t know about you? I had varying professional interests before becoming a lawyer, ranging from auto mechanics to software to fish farming. After undergrad, I started an open ocean fish farming business in Hawaii, raising Opakapaka (Hawaiian pink snapper).


Photograph of Sonia Nayak, Community Development Finance attorney, Nixon Peabody LLP, Los Angeles

Sonia Nayak

Community Development Finance
Los Angeles

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I like to work on transactions that require collaboration amongst developers, lenders, and investors to maximize economic and community impact at a local level.

What is your proudest accomplishment as a lawyer? Most recently, the opportunity to introduce Community Vision (f/k/a Northern California Community Loan Fund) to Life Learning Academy, a charter high school in the San Francisco Unified School District. Facilitating this introduction between two firm clients resulted in the construction of a new no-cost dormitory facility for at-risk, often homeless students attending the school. We started work on the dormitory idea seven years ago. Being present on moving day and seeing the student’s reactions firsthand was definitely a proud and memorable moment for me.

What sports are you passionate about? As a participant—tennis. I started playing when I was twelve, and still try to play regularly. As a fan—I come from a family of diehard football fans, GO NINERS!

What is the last book you read or podcast you listened to? Podcast—The Dropout. Book—Bad Blood by John Carreyrou. Both are about the rise and collapse of Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes. Unbelievable story.


Photograph of Dara Newman Histed, Affordable Housing & Real Estate attorney, Nixon Peabody LLP, Washington, DC

Dara Newman Histed

Affordable Housing & Real Estate
Washington, DC

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What is a long-term goal of yours? I enjoy working on complex real estate deals that build housing where there are lots of problems to solve, like structuring deals and addressing land use issues. I want to use that skill set to have a meaningful impact on the development of affordable housing in D.C.

What is your proudest accomplishment as a lawyer? I’ve been working on the redevelopment of a large public housing project in Boston since my first year practicing in law. The original development was built in the 1940s, and I’ve so far helped to close six phases of redevelopment, with three additional phases in the works. The client, with our help, has rebuilt a couple of hundred units of affordable housing for Boston’s residents.

What is something more people don’t know about you? Before I went to law school, I was working for a microfinance organization for several years. In that role, I worked with low-income entrepreneurs in the U.S. to help build their businesses. I knew I wanted to go to graduate school and continue my work in community development and decided to become a lawyer focused on housing.

What is the last podcast you listened to? The Moth. It’s one of my favorites. It’s storytelling, and I like it at the end of the day because you get to switch gears and hear different individuals tell unscripted true stories about their paths.


Photograph of Morgan Nighan, Complex Commercial Disputes attorney, Nixon Peabody LLP, Boston

Morgan Nighan

Complex Commercial Disputes
Boston

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What is a long-term goal of yours? It would be an honor to be considered for a state or federal judgeship. In the meantime, I hope to be a driver in helping the firm to achieve its diversity and gender-equity goals.

What is your most memorable moment/proudest accomplishment as a lawyer? I was pro-bono counsel to a pregnant female inmate incarcerated in New York while awaiting trial. New York State has a statutorily mandated prison nursery program for nursing mothers, but jail officials unlawfully and arbitrarily prohibited our client from accessing it. I brought a successful Article 78 challenge to the administration’s interpretation of the relevant statute, along with my co-counsel, Valentina Morales. As a result of our work, our client was able to nurse her baby in the prison nursery program until she was ultimately released when the charges against her were dropped. And the administration agreed to change its policies for determining who is permitted to access the nursery program. The ultimate result of our work is that more women are able to access New York State’s prison nursery program. I’m very proud of that.

What are you passionate about outside of your legal practice? Fitness, wellness, travel, and spending time with my family and my partner, Matt. I am active in the Boston Bar Association and the International Women’s Insolvency and Restructuring Confederation.

What is the last book you read or podcast you listened to? I read a lot and have a weekly rotation of podcasts. The best books I have read recently are Three Women by Lisa Taddeo, Dryer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dryer, and Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing. My current favorite podcast is Stay Tuned with Preet, hosted by Preet Bharara.


Photograph of Rachel Pugliese, Corporate attorney, Nixon Peabody LLP, New York City

Rachel Pugliese

Corporate
New York City

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I became a lawyer because my father is a lawyer, and he really enjoys practicing law and working with clients, so I wanted to follow in his footsteps.

A long-term goal of mine is to continue to work and grow as an attorney and to expand my book of business while continuing to maintain a good work/life balance for my family.

What is something most people don’t know about you? I currently live and work in New York City, but I grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania where we had horses, goats, and numerous other farm animals!

When I’m not at work, I’m with my son, Penn, who is currently nineteen months old. Watching Penn learn, grow, and become a little man is my favorite thing to do with my free time!


Photograph of Dana Roper, Affordable Housing & Real Estate attorney, Nixon Peabody LLP, New York City

Dana Roper

Affordable Housing & Real Estate
New York City

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I became a lawyer because I wanted to have the ability to effect change in my community and on a broader policy level. Working in the field of affordable housing has given me the opportunity to do just that. The transactions I work on help create housing for families and individuals in my own community, while the industry’s efforts as a whole are helping to reshape the conversation around housing in this country.

What is your proudest accomplishment as a lawyer? I experience a profound sense of pride every time I visit a building that I have had a hand in developing or preserving. It is especially meaningful to hear the residents describe how their lives have been positively impacted.

When I’m not at work, I’m usually spending time with family and friends. This, at times, involves traveling to other states and, sometimes, other countries, but it is well worth the journey to maintain these connections.

What was the last book you read? Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments. This sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale has been a long time coming, but it was well worth the wait.


Photograph of Peter Trimarchi, Affordable Housing & Real Estate attorney, Nixon Peabody LLP, Albany

Peter Trimarchi

Affordable Housing & Real Estate
Albany

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I like to work on environmental transactional, regulatory, and litigation matters and all things relating to renewable energy development.

What is your proudest accomplishment as a lawyer? Probably assisting a nonprofit, on a pro bono basis, recover 100% of the costs it incurred cleaning up an oil spill beneath its new youth center. While it feels great to help all of our clients achieve their goals, some successes just have more meaning than others.

What is something most people don’t know about you? I was a collegiate volleyball player—the sport dominated my life throughout my teens and twenties. I still get out there and play once in a while.

When I’m not at work, I’m spending quality time with the wife and kids or spending time in the Adirondacks. Lake Placid is a big favorite.