Jeffrey Basso is a Partner based in our Ronkonkoma office.
CMM: You graduated from the University of Delaware before heading to St. John’s University School of Law. Why did you decide to become a lawyer?
JB: I majored in Criminal Justice at Delaware because the topic always interested me growing up, but when I graduated from college, I really was not interested in pursuing any careers that would typically be offered to someone with a Criminal Justice major. So, I decided to take a year off after I graduated and got a job working at a law firm on Long Island doing a lot of writing. I found that I enjoyed writing in a legal setting and making arguments on behalf of clients and, ultimately, that’s what led me to pursue a career as a lawyer.
CMM: You were born and raised on Long Island and never left (except for college)! You’ve crisscrossed Suffolk and Nassau at different points in your life and now live in Commack. Tell us your Long Island story.
JB: Long Island has always been a huge part of my life. My mom lived on Long Island her entire life. My dad came to New York from Italy when he was around 18 years old and, when they got married, they bought a house in Suffolk County that my family grew up in. My parents still live there over 40 years later. Having grown up in eastern Suffolk County, then living in Long Beach for several years after college to now raising my family in Commack, I have gotten to experience so much of what Long Island has to offer such as the thriving business community, highly regarded schools, great beaches, wineries and local breweries, renowned restaurants, proximity to New York City and on and on. If there was only a way to reduce property taxes and make the traffic disappear every time I try to get on or off the island, that would be perfect.
CMM: You came to CMM in 2012 after working at other firms. What attracted you to CMM?
JB: I worked at a couple smaller law firms on Long Island to begin my career, and I really could not envision a future with them. I still remember when I first interviewed with CMM and had the opportunity to meet with Joe Campolo, Pat McCormick and other attorneys at the firm, you could tell this place was different and that it was an up and coming firm with a different philosophy and vision compared to most firms. I wanted to be a part of it. I saw CMM as an opportunity to really launch my career and become a permanent fixture for me and, over the past seven years, that has truly been the case.
CMM: CMM has grown exponentially since you came on board. What has it been like being part of that growth?
JB: When I first started, CMM had about 11 attorneys, and we were cramped in a small office bursting at the seams. In the seven years since I started, we have tripled in size and now have a much bigger main headquarters in Ronkonkoma and two additional offices in Bridgehampton and Westbury. It has been amazing to watch it and be a part of it. The message and philosophy of the firm has really resonated on Long Island with the business community and has been a huge part of why the firm continues to grow and develop great, long-term relationships with clients all over the island.
CMM: What practice areas do you focus on?
JB: My primary focus is on commercial litigation and employment litigation. The types of cases I handle range from complex shareholder/partnership disputes typically referred to as “business divorces” to business mergers or acquisitions that go bad to employment matters involving employees breaching restrictive covenants, misappropriating trade secrets, stealing business clients, etc., to wage and discrimination matters to basic contract and commercial real estate disputes. The matters I handle really run the gamut of the types of disputes business owners are faced with daily.
CMM: If you couldn’t be a lawyer, what would you be doing?
JB: The one career I seriously considered pursuing before I went to law school was working for the FBI in some capacity, possibly as a profiler. I was always fascinated with the FBI and being involved in criminal investigations which is what led to my criminal justice major in college, but I ultimately elected to go the attorney route instead.
CMM: What is the most valuable thing a lawyer can do for his or her clients?
JB: Listen to what the client wants to accomplish on any given matter. For me handling litigation matters, it is important to understand why a client is in the position he/she/it is in and what that client is looking to gain. It could be that the client wants to just use litigation as leverage to force a settlement, or the client is desperate because he or she is being forced out of the company, or the client wants to send a message to other employees, or any number of other reasons. Knowing what a client is trying to accomplish from the outset allows the attorney to plan accordingly and better advise the client. Too often, attorneys don’t listen and instead follow a path that the client never wanted or intended.
CMM: How do you spend your weekends?
JB: My time on weekends is precious because there is such little time to unwind during the week. I have two little daughters so most of my weekend time is spent with them as my wife and I try to keep them entertained. It’s exhausting, but I love the time I get to spend with them. Once it gets warm out, I love going to the beach and hanging out by my outdoor fire pit with friends and family. If stuck inside, I’m a huge sports fan and often battle with the kids over watching the Jets/Mets or Disney princess movies.
CMM: How can Long Island keep young people living and working here, as well as attract others such as yourself, who may otherwise look to NYC or other cities for career opportunities?
JB: You can see that certain areas of Long Island, like Patchogue and Farmingdale as two examples, get it and are working to keep young people on Long Island by revitalizing downtowns and offering housing that is convenient walking distance to everything. That certainly entices young people and gives them the opportunity to stay (although losing Amazon didn’t help), but the problem remains that everything is still so expensive on Long Island. Friends of mine that live out of state pay a fraction of what we pay on Long Island for taxes and other cost of living items, and salaries for most people, especially the younger workforce, are not commensurate with those added Long Island costs. Until that changes, I think many young people are going to continue to look elsewhere for employment. CMM is proud to take a leadership role in this area by working closely with HIA-LI and the business community to attract and retain top talent.