Monthly Feature: Get to Know... Mark A. Berman
December 1, 2023
Spend just a few moments talking to Mark A. Berman, and one thing becomes instantly clear: Nothing’s halfway with him.
A native New Yorker who grew up in Queens, he speaks directly, transparently and expansively (especially about the law and his sons) and without extraneous chitchat. He’ll tell you what he thinks you should know.
Although he grew up in a family of lawyers, he attended Stuyvesant High School, the prestigious and highly selective Manhattan public school that focuses on math, science and technology ‒ and counts four Nobel Prize winners among its alumni.
“I started as a science guy,” Mark explains. “But I hated being in a lab with no windows.”
Once at Columbia University, he began to wonder if the family “business” would be a good fit for him. But Columbia didn’t offer any pre-law courses, so he enrolled in a couple of classes at the London School of Economics.
“To see if I liked it,” he says.
He did – and went on to earn his law degree from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, magna cum laude, and then clerk for a federal magistrate judge. From the jump, he knew he wanted to be a litigator.
“I love being an advocate – I love arguing in favor of and trying to advocate for my clients,” he says. “I love being in the courtroom.”
Mark joined the New York City office of Bond, Schoeneck & King as a member (partner) in late July.
Mark represents both plaintiffs and defendants in a wide range of complex commercial disputes as well as real estate, employment, technology and e-discovery conflicts. In addition, for 15 years he wrote a column for The New York Law Journal about e-discovery (or the process of looking for and analyzing information in email and other digital sources that can be used in litigation). That led to his appointment five years ago as the founding chair of the New York State Association’s first-ever Committee on Technology and the Legal Profession.
Under Mark’s leadership, the committee recommended that New York become the first U.S. state to require that attorneys take continuing legal education courses in cybersecurity, privacy and data protection. The requirement took effect last year.
“I’m the cause and originator of it,” he says. “Lawyers are low-hanging fruit, very vulnerable to hacking and phishing. Unless you require them to learn, they are not going to do it.”
During the pandemic, he switched gears to write “The Virtual Lawyer” for The New York Law Journal, a column about practicing law remotely. Article titles have included “ChatGPT: To Use or Not to Use – That is the Question!” and “Meet the Jetsons: Virtual Lawyering.” He also spearheaded the production of an e-book for the New York State Bar Association, “Virtual Lawyering: A Practical Guide.”
Mark also serves as a Commissioner on the Chief Judge’s Commission to Reimagine the Future of New York Courts, which was formed in 2020 in response to the disruptions to the judicial system caused by the COVID-19 lockdown. As Co-Chair of the Commission’s technology working group, he participated this past August in a video conference with some of the justices of the Japanese Supreme Court, who wanted to learn how technology and e-filing are used in the New York State court system.
He also chairs the Commercial Division Committee of the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section of the New York State Bar Association. In that role, he moderates monthly discussions between junior attorneys and a commercial division judge. Previously, he served as Chair of the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section and, during his tenure, he created the Hon. Shira A. Scheindlin Award for Excellence in the Courtroom and the Hon. Judith S. Kaye Commercial & Federal Litigation Scholarships for promoting women in the legal profession.
He has taught classes on technology and the law at the City University of New York, Syracuse University College of Law and Albany Law School. He is the creator of the State Bar Association’s annual nationwide Innovation Tournament for law students. Oh, and did we mention that he counts several Hollywood A-listers among his clients?
“It’s not as glamorous as it sounds,” Mark says. “When I get these clients, I’m not starstruck because I don’t know who they are half the time. My wife has to tell me. When you’re a client, I do for you like I do for everybody else, regardless of your fame. The celebrities think it’s hilarious.”
But none of these feathers in Mark’s crowded cap represents his favorite activity.
“What makes me tick are my wife and two sons,” he says.
Jesse, 15, and Aidan, 14, have grown up watching Dad.
“Since they were toddlers, they’ve accompanied me and my wife, Brenda, to legal and judicial conventions all over the state and the world,” he says. “During the pandemic, they watched me argue from the dining room table.”
Both boys attended a five-week summer trial institute in New York – not because either has shown a particular interest in studying and practicing law – but because the experience helps prepare them for whatever paths they choose to follow.
“I wanted it for them,” Mark says. “It gives them practice speaking in public. Public speaking and the ability to argue – you need that any place.”