About Harter Secrest & Emery LLP

The New York firm that made a name for itself before opening an office in New York City still stands as Rochester's largest law firm. Armed with a renowned M&A practice adept in negotiating the transfer of millions to billions of dollars, HSE is sought after by Fortune 100 companies and clients the likes of Wegmans, MacKenzie-Childs, Kodak, American Express, HSBC Holdings and Buchanan Ingersoll.

Who Needs the Big Apple?

In the wilderness known to Manhattan residents as upstate New York, HSE was founded by James Havens and Nathaniel Foote all the way back in 1893 and has made a comfortable and successful home for itself. Foote served as a Justice of the State Supreme Court, appointed by the Governor of New York, and later moved up to the Appellate Division. Havens turned away from the government path, turning down a run for Governor of New York in 1910. In fact, HSE was so comfortable in Rochester that it took nearly a hundred years for the firm to take its first steps outside the Western New York City. Its first additional office, in Naples, Florida in 1981, was its farthest. After that, HSE stuck with the Western New York region, opening offices in Albany in 1989, Buffalo in 1995 and Corning and New York City in 2014. 

HSE houses 41 Super Lawyers and 34 Best Lawyers, made the National Law Journal's prestigious "Midsize Hot List" 2012, and is ranked nationally, earning top marks for four years by Chambers USA for itsImmigration Law in New York State. What's more, HSE has earned the most "Best Law Firms" ranking for the past four years in Rochester and Western New York, more than any other law firm. The firm boasts one of the highest average scores of any firm ranked in the American Lawyer Mid-Level Associate Survey over the past decade. To top it all, HSE has an enviable good rep even among its associates, having a "Peer Review Rated" ethical standards and legal ability by Martindale-Hubbell.

HSE and Eastman Kodak-Old Friends

Harter Secrest and Eastman Kodak go way back. From the early days of founder James Havens' friendship with George Eastman, founder of the Eastman Kodak Company, and his position of general counsel and later promotion to vice president, HSE has stood by the photo and technology company throughout, guiding it through sales of operations, businesses, assets in silver, light film, imaging technology, micrographics, photo kiosks and software. Most recently, HSE won the Acquisitions International M&A Award for USA Leading Dealmaker for representing Eastman Kodak in the sale of its image sensor business to Platinum Equity Portfolio Company.

Hockey Fans

HSE attorneys most likely get free tickets to Buffalo Sabres games. The halls of HSE are filled with hockey fans, judging by its active sports M&A deals. HSE negotiated the $189 million transfer of hands of the National Hockey League team the Buffalo Sabres from Tom Golisano to its new owner, Terry Pagula. It wasn't the first time HSE had helped the Buffalo Sabres out; it also negotiated the Rochester Americans AHL hockey team sale to the Buffalo Sabres.

Government and Internal Investigations

HSE opened its Government and Internal Investigations group in 2011 to defend clients being investigated or prosecuted by the government. Not that HSE's experience in this field is new; the opening of the group just makes it official. The Group is staffed with officials who know what they're talking about, including a federal magistrate judge, an assistant U.S. attorney and a DC Justice Department trial attorney, among others. 

Harter Secrest & Emery Diversity Scholarship

HSE offers diverse 1Ls who "evidence great promise" its eponymous Harter Secrest & Emery Diversity Scholarship, which includes a $7,500 tuition scholarship for the 2L year and a paid ten-week summer associate position in the post-1L summer.


Breaking New Ground

In response to its growing client base and client needs, Harter Secrest & Emery launched three new practice areas in 2015 and 2016: Privacy and Data Security, Alcohol Beverage, and Government and Internal Investigations. Attorneys in the firm's Privacy and Data Security group help employers of all sizes, and in all industries, prevent and respond to data breaches. Entrepreneurs, and well-established wineries, breweries and distilleries turn to the firm's Alcohol Beverage attorneys for guidance on federal and state licensing, manufacturing, product labeling, trademark and trade secret protection. Attorneys in the firm's Government and Internal Investigations group represent corporate and individual clients in their response to government investigations and counsel them to act proactively to avoid potential conflicts.

You Better Recognize

Harter Secrest & Emery consistently garners recognition by third-party and peer review publications. HSE has 34 U.S. News - Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" top tier practice group rankings in the 2015 survey-more rankings than any other firm in the Western New York region. In the Chambers USA 2016 America's Leading Lawyers in Business, independent legal research firm Chambers and Partners awarded top rankings to the firm's Immigration, Corporate/Mergers & Acquisitions, and Litigation practices, and to 14 HSE attorneys in their practice areas. Lastly, The Best Lawyers in America 2016 directoryrecognizes 46 HSE attorneys in 30 practice areas.

August 2016
Expanding IP

In 2016, Harter Secrest & Emery expanded the firm's Intellectual Property group in Buffalo with the addition of partners Michael J. Berchou and Rowland Richards. Berchou and Richards add considerable depth and expertise to Harter Secrest & Emery's already strong Intellectual Property practice. With Berchou and Richards, the firm now has more than 20 intellectual property attorneys and other professionals who practice in the firm's Buffalo and Rochester offices.

A Healthy Settlement

Harter Secrest & Emery represented the New York State Health Facilities Association, the largest for-profit nursing home association in the state, as well as dozens of nursing homes individually, in a set of consolidated actions challenging the legality under federal law of significant Medicaid rate reductions. After extensive litigation and negotiations, the State agreed to settle the action, and has since paid out $22 million to these homes. With this payment, HSE has recovered for its clients, by judgments or settlements, over $500 million in unlawfully withheld Medicaid reimbursement payments over the past 25 years. Further, this settlement-as structured and administered by HSE-is being used as the template for a much larger, $850 million, statewide settlement involving decades of underpayment in Medicaid reimbursement. HSE played a leading role in negotiating this settlement, which has been dubbed "Universal Settlement."

- Show Less + Show Full Description

Harter Secrest & Emery LLP

1600 Bausch & Lomb Place
Rochester, NY 14604
Phone: (585) 232-6500


  • Employer Type: Private
  • Managing Partner: Craig S. Wittlin
  • Hiring Partner: Mark R. Wilson, Esq.
  • Total No. Attorneys 2016: 125

  • Base Salary
    1st year: $90,000
    Summer associate: $1,500/week (1L), $1,700/week (2L)

  • Summer Associate Offers
    4 out of 4 (2016) (2Ls only)

  • Major Departments & Practices
    Agriculture, Food & Dairy • Alcohol Beverage • Automobile Dealerships • Building & Construction • Closely Held Businesses & Private Companies • Corporate • Design Professionals • E-Commerce • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation • Energy • Environmental, Land Use & Zoning • Financial Reorganization, Restructuring & Insolvency • Financial Services • Government Affairs • Government & Internal Investigations • Health Care Professionals • Health Systems & Hospitals • Higher Education • Immigration • Intellectual Property • Labor and Employment • Litigation • Long-Term Care • Manufacturers & Distributors • Mergers and Acquisitions • Municipal Law • Native American Law • Not-for-Profit Organizations • Optics and Photonics • Privacy and Data Security • Private Equity & Venture Capital • Public Finance • Real Estate • Retailer Real Estate • Secured Lending/Asset Recovery • Securities • Sports Law and Sports Facilities • Tax • Technology & Software • Telecommunications • Trusts and Estates

Major Office Locations

  • Rochester, NY (HQ) • Albany, NY • Buffalo, NY • Corning, NY • New York, NY