Monthly Feature: Get to Know... Justin Tan
December 2, 2019
By: Justin C. Tan
No District Attorney office position lacks variety and valuable experience, and litigator Justin Tan found that five years with the Bronx DA greatly expanded his understanding of people from all walks of life, giving him tremendous insight into what comes into play during the litigation process.
“You learn a lot when you deal with the victims and the accused as individuals. It makes you appreciate where you came from and makes it clear how a person’s background and lack of opportunity makes a difference in their lives. It makes you more compassionate.”
Justin doesn’t have, in his own words, “a magical story about wanting to be a lawyer.” Raised in the New York City borough of Queens, Justin excelled academically, later studying economics and philosophy at SUNY Binghamton. When he took a debate course, and then another, the idea of a career in law started to gel, leading him to St. John’s University School of Law. “Not only is it an outstanding law school; I was able to keep expenses down as I didn’t have to dorm there.”
While in his final year at St. John’s, Justin enjoyed several trial advocacy classes. While candidates for the District Attorney office generally have prior internship experience in that environment, Justin’s post-graduation interview with the Bronx DA was strong enough to secure him an Assistant District Attorney (ADA) position. He thrived with the variety and pace of the job.
“I prosecuted violent felonies, conducted numerous trials, and did pre-trial evidentiary hearings and Grand Jury presentations. In my first year out of law school, I did a jury trial. A trial might span a month or two, and then I’d immediately start another. We were always in court or getting ready for court. Attorneys in private practice don’t get to go to trial very often.”
Justin would meet with jurors post trial for feedback. While he well understood the importance of meticulous preparation, he honed the skill of being able to think on his feet. “When you’re before a jury and something goes in a different direction, you need to rethink your strategy on the spot.”
As an ADA, Tan worked with a senior trial attorney to get a rare felony 1 conviction. “A single mom was shot in her apartment in a case of mistaken identity/drug bust gone wrong by an intruder who was likely on drugs. The victim was with her daughter when the assailant came in, thinking it was a different apartment. During the month long trial, the defense claimed that the victim had a history and put 20 witnesses on the stand. I was able to conduct direct examination which combined with surveillance video proved that the victim was innocent. It was the first case in a long time to obtain a felony 1 conviction for a robbery and homicide.”
After five years with the Bronx DA, Justin met with Bond litigator John McKay. The two hit it off immediately and John became a significant mentor. “It was a smooth transition to private practice with John’s guidance. Litigation skills translate, even if the clients and matters are very different. Having made the same transition in his own career, John was immeasurably helpful.”
Today, Justin’s practice focuses on support for long term care providers in contract with managed care organizations. He represents his clients in commercial matters, employment, guardianships, medical malpractice, personal injury and civil rights issues.
In October 2019 Justin was part of a team that won a landmark NYS Supreme Court decision which granted an Article 78 Petition filed by Bond on behalf of Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Association of New York State; New York Association on Independent Living; New York State Association of Health Care Providers; and 11 separate Fiscal Intermediaries (FIs). This victory prevented the Department of Health from implementing a new method of rate reimbursement that would have financially crippled FIs and severely impacted the elderly and disabled population in New York State. The Court’s ruling was noteworthy as it ordered the Department of Health to immediately revert to the previous rate methodology, declaring the new rate methodology “null and void.”
“The judge completely invalidated the rule, which essentially saved our client group from having to shut down. It was life changing for our clients and the consumers who depend on them.”
Outside of the office, Justin helps his wife care for their three young children. Running helps him keep his life in balance. He has twice run the New York City Marathon, hoping to get there again in 2020.