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RobertBarrer

Chief Ethics and Risk Management Partner

"Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do." —Potter Stewart

Overview

Biography

Robert is Barclay Damon’s chief ethics and risk management partner and is responsible for all ethics, conflicts, loss-prevention, and CLE activities. In this senior leadership position, he counsels attorneys and provides analysis and advice on ethical questions involving conflicts of interest, privileges, and legal issues implicating the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Robert also supervises the firm’s CLE programs, lectures on a wide variety of ethics and practice-management topics, and is responsible for designing and implementing programs and policies to improve the provision of high-quality legal services for firm clients.

Robert has over 36 years of trial and appellate experience in the state and federal courts and serves as a mediator for court-directed and private mediation clients. Over the course of his career, Robert represented large and small corporations, governmental and agency clients as well as individuals.

In addition to his role at Barclay Damon, Robert is a Syracuse University College of Law adjunct.

Bar Associations

  • American Bar Association
  • New York State Bar Association, Standards of Attorney Conduct Committee Member
  • Northern District of New York Federal Court Bar Association
  • Onondaga County Bar Association

Selected Memberships & Affiliations

  • American Board of Trial Advocates, Elected Member
  • Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers
  • NYS Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department, Fifth Judicial District: Former Chair and Grievance Committee Member
  • NYS Commission on Judicial Conduct, Referee
Experience

Representative Experience

  • Regularly represents lawyers and law firms as respondents in professional-discipline matters before attorney grievance committees.
  • Obtained summary judgment a municipality that provided emergency medical services in response to a 911 call concerning the plaintiff, who suffered a massive heart attack. While at the scene, the defibrillator and the pads allegedly malfunctioned. A lawsuit was brought against the client and the manufacturer and distributors of the defibrillator and pads. In the absence of a special relationship, and none was established, there was no municipal liability. The plaintiff appealed, and the dismissal of the action was affirmed.
  • Obtained dismissal of a prolific pro se plaintiff’s federal civil-rights claim against a law firm that represented other parties in state court litigation. The plaintiff, whom the federal district court judge termed “a disbarred and disgruntled former attorney,” commenced a lawsuit against a host of state court judges, state court officials, and private law firms. Successfully argued that the lawsuit was frivolous against the law firm because it was not a “state actor” within the meaning of the controlling federal civil-rights statute.
  • Obtained summary judgment for a third-party benefits provider for self-funded health- and risk-management plans in a pair of federal civil-rights actions commenced by retired disabled police officers who were challenging the manner in which their medical benefits were paid under Section 207-c of the NY General Municipal Law. The decision granting summary judgment was affirmed by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. One of the plaintiffs then commenced a near-identical action in NYS Supreme Court against the client. Obtained dismissal of most of the claims in an initial motion, and then obtained summary judgment dismissing the remaining claims. The decision granting summary judgment was then affirmed by the Appellate Division, Fourth Department.
  • Obtained summary judgment and dismissal of a legal-malpractice action against a law firm and its principal attorney based upon the failure of the plaintiff to schedule the claim in his pre-action bankruptcy petition.
  • Represented a manufacturer of motorcycles and off-road vehicles in a challenge to the manufacturer’s decision to terminate the franchisee based upon its failure to meet the standards contained in the franchise agreement. Following a six-week jury trial in the US District Court for the Northern District of New York, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the client, thereby validating the decision to terminate the franchise.
  • Defended a manufacturer of precision medical devices in an action brought by a purchaser of a $2.25 million nuclear-magnetic-resonance system. After the client performed and indicated its readiness to deliver the system, the purchaser attempted to cancel the agreement and sought a refund of its deposit. Obtained a decision from the US District Court for the Northern District of New York, affirmed by the Second Circuit, that the purchaser breached the agreement and there was no right to a refund of the deposit.
  • Represented a wholesale pharmaceutical-services company in connection with its successful attempt to enjoin a former salesperson from unlawfully competing by contacting customers and using confidential information and trade secrets. Successfully proved during a federal court preliminary-injunction hearing that the scope and duration of a restrictive covenant were reasonable and should be enforced. Once the preliminary injunction was granted, the salesman consented to all the relief the client was seeking for the duration of the agreement.
  • Successfully defended two municipal agencies and one of its officers in a federal civil-rights action arising out of the declaration that multi-story dwelling in a college town was not up to the local housing code and therefore unsuitable for use as a college fraternity. Following a six-week trial, the jury in the US District Court for the Northern District of New York returned a verdict in favor of the clients despite the fact the former owners of the home were found liable for fraud. The Second Circuit affirmed the verdict in all respects.
  • Successfully defended an attorney charged with malpractice and fraud. The spouse, who was not represented by the client, sued him, claiming he was guilty of malpractice and fraud in the context of a contentious matrimonial action. Established proper conduct on the client's part and this, coupled with a lack of privity, led the court to grant summary judgment to our client.
  • Represented a municipal fair association that sponsored an automobile race at a local fair. The plaintiff was injured when a tire separated from a race car and struck him in the leg. Because the plaintiff had executed a waiver of liability to permit him to be in the pit area and had not paid a fee for admission, he was not considered a user within the meaning of the NY General Obligations Law. Prevailed on appeal and had that victory affirmed by the NY Court of Appeals in its first application of this statute.
  • Represented the individual seller of a technology company who claimed he was wrongfully denied compensation for the sale of products following the purchase of his business by a competitor. Arbitration and litigation followed parallel tracks and, after completing the arbitration hearing, the arbitrator awarded the client $1.4 million (the full amount sought).
  • Obtained summary judgment for clients that manufactured warming blankets for use during surgery and had been sued when a young patient developed compartment syndrome on his legs following kidney surgery. Established that the warming blanket functioned properly and did not cause or contribute to the compartment syndrome.
  • Successfully defended a client was accused of legal malpractice arising out of his representation of an accused in a criminal case. Under NY law, a former client of an attorney who was convicted in a criminal case cannot claim legal malpractice against the attorney without first establishing actual innocence. The incarcerated former client made no claim or showing of innocence, and therefore, summary judgment was obtained for our client.
  • Successfully defended a manufacturer of folding ladders in a claim by an insurance-company claims adjuster that the ladder failed, causing him to fall and sustain personal injuries. Relying upon expert testimony from a wood materials and ladder expert, convinced the jury that the ladder was not defective and the sole cause of the fall and injury was the negligence of the plaintiff. The jury returned a verdict of ‘no cause for action’ following a four-day trial.
  • Obtained summary judgment for the owner and operator of a daycare center in an action commenced by the parents of a two-year-old who sustained a serious injury when a piece of furniture upon which the child was climbing tipped over. The court granted the motion for summary judgment and dismissed both the action against daycare center as well as all cross-claims asserted by the manufacturer. The argument of the manufacturer that the daycare center was guilty of negligent supervision was summarily rejected.
  • Defended a physician accused of professional misconduct and fraud in an 18-day administrative proceeding before a panel of the State Board of Professional Medical Conduct. The board accused the physician of multiple instances of misconduct involving 10 different patients, arising out of alleged deviations from the standard of care, inadequate recordkeeping, and fraud for billing for procedures not undertaken.
  • Obtained summary judgment for medical-device manufacturers by establishing that the product at issue had been a part of a line of business sold to another company. Because the agreement memorializing the sale excluded retained liabilities, the court held that there was no liability to the plaintiff, who claimed to have suffered severe damages from an overdose of radiation during cancer treatment.

Prior Experience

  • Hiscock & Barclay, LLP, Partner
  • US District Court for the Northern District of New York to Judge Howard Munson, Law Clerk

Selected Community Activities

  • Syracuse University College of Law, Adjunct

Selected Honors

  • Selected to Super Lawyers Upstate New York: Professional Liability: Defense, 2018-2019
  • Selected to Super Lawyers Upstate New York: Business Litigation, 2007-2017
  • Burton Awards, Law360 Distinguished Writing Award for “Unintended Consequences: Avoiding and Addressing the Inadvertent Disclosure of Documents,” and “Careless Keystrokes and Bad Decisions—New York Law on Inadvertent Disclosure,” 2006 and 2017
  • Northern District of New York Federal Court Bar Association, Pro Bono Service Award, 2010
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated for Very High to Preeminent Ethical Standards and Legal Ability, 2002-2018
Knowledge

Selected Speaking Engagements

  • 17th Annual Hinshaw & Culbertson Legal Malpractice/Risk Management National Conference, “Navigating Troubled Waters: Dealing With the Impaired Lawyer”
  • New York State Bar Association, “Ethics 2017: Legal Ethics in the Real World” CLE
  • New York State Bar Association, “Legal Malpractice 2017” CLE
  • American Law Institute National, “The Efficient and Ethical Use of Email in Law Practice” Webinar
  • County Attorneys' Association of the State of New York Annual Meeting, "Disciplinary Consequences of Lawyer Impairment”

Selected Publications & Media

Selected Alerts & Blog Posts

Featured Media

Alerts

Courtroom Battles Ahead for Emergency Regulations Addressing Vaping-Associated Pulmonary Illnesses

Alerts

Court of Appeals Green Lights Associational Discrimination Lawsuit Under the ADA

Alerts

Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Contractual Limitation Period for Title VII Claims

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