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August 09, 2017

Success Stories Spotlight: Joseph "Joe" Hanna

Cindy Tsai – May 28, 2014

Last month, Law360 named JIOP alum Joseph “Joe” Hanna as one of its 2014 Rising Stars. This national honor is awarded to a selective group of attorneys under 40 whose legal achievements belie their age. A quick review of his bio easily explains why Law360 selected Hanna for this distinction, but it didn’t take more than a few minutes into our conversation for me to realize that the depth of his contribution to the legal industry exceeds his résumé.

The JIOP Effect
As a fellow JIOP alum, I wasn’t surprised when he told me that he credits many of his legal accomplishments to JIOP. For him, the benefits of JIOP started as early as the application process. Interviews were opportunities for him to network with attorneys practicing in the same geographic region he hoped to practice after school and meetings with judges helped him identify the skills necessary to become a successful litigator. In the end, Hanna secured a state court clerkship in Houston, Texas. During that summer, he not only enhanced his writing skills but also picked up on how the law is interpreted and how judges think. All of these skills continue to be highly relevant in his legal career.

Making Moves
Today, Hanna is a partner at Goldberg Segalla, concentrating his practice in commercial litigation with a primary focus on sports and entertainment law, as well as retail, hospitality, and development litigation. He represents sports franchises and professional athletes relating to licensing and contract disputes.  Being named as a leader in this highly specialized practice area did not come easy.  Hanna joined Goldberg Segalla in 2005. At that time, Goldberg Segalla did not have a sports and entertainment practice group, but the firm supported his interest in this area. His mentor, Rick Cohen, encouraged him to develop the practice and provided him with the necessary resources to be successful.  But how does an associate straight out of law school build a practice from bottom up? Hanna explained when you are a first-year associate at a firm that had never hired anyone directly out of law school, partners are not running to you with assignments.  “I took full advantage of that. From the first week, I was researching and writing. I reached out to the ABA and various bar associations and organizations.” The ABA and the DRI published his article about the Cleveland Browns and its famed Dawg Pound mark before he celebrated his first anniversary at the firm. Fast forward almost a decade later, Hanna continues to write and participate in panel discussions. He believes this is one of the best way to grow the practice.

Personal Passions
Hanna is also dedicated to diversity in the workplace and is the founder of many diversity and outreach programs, including Goldberg Segalla’s Diversity Task Force. The firm was recognized in 2012 by the Minority Corporate Counsel Association for its innovative programming. Under Hanna’s leadership, the Diversity Task Force is pushing diversity beyond the walls of the firm; it is committed to increase diversity in the wider legal and business communities. Hanna’s message is clear: In order to keep moving forward, law firms need to do a better job retaining minority attorneys by assigning them meaningful projects, and mentors need to stay in touch with their law student mentees and provide guidance through the three years of school and the bar exam. 

Forty minutes into our phone call, Hanna took me down memory lane and revealed that he was on the Syracuse University (my college alma mater) campus, finishing up a paper due the next day. At which point, I had to ask—“Why another master’s degree?  Why Syracuse?” The decision to go back to school was a “no-brainer.”  Five years ago, Hanna started Bunkers in Baghdad, a nonprofit organization that collects and ships new and used golf equipment for recreational purposes to American troops around the world. The organization also works with schools nationwide to have their students write letters to our overseas soldiers. Bunkers in Baghdad partners with various veterans affairs (VA) hospitals and centers in the United States to aid in rehabilitation process. Hanna explained that the golf swing helps develop muscle throughout the entire body. As the charity is about to ship its 5 millionth golf ball, he wants to ensure that the charity continues its success.  Thus, it was a no-brainer for him to return to school and learn about how to manage nonprofit organizations. Why Syracuse?  His response: “I wanted to learn from the best.” I couldn’t help but smile. 

Given the endless list of achievements, it is hard to believe that Hanna is less than 10 years out of law school.  I, for one, am looking forward to see what he has in store for the next 10 years! 

Editor's Note: Know an inspiring JIOP alum deserving of being featured in our Success Stories Spotlight web series? Email JIOP communications liaison Genuine Pyun.

Cindy Tsai – May 28, 2014