Monthly Feature: Get to Know... Sara M. Richmond
June 1, 2023
Sara Richmond loves puzzles. She starts each day with The New York Times crossword, is learning to play bridge with friends and tackles not only Wordle, but its quadrupled counterpart, Quordle, every day.
Her penchant for riddling out solutions might explain why she became a lawyer. Or not. Frankly, it’s not a puzzle she’s successfully solved yet.
“I just always knew I wanted to be a lawyer – I don’t know why,” Sara says. “I never really thought about doing anything else. Maybe it was the intellectualism of it that interested me. Something drew me to it.”
While she didn’t particularly enjoy her undergraduate years at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, she weirdly loved law school – “most people do not,” she says, chuckling.
“Everything was a puzzle to solve,” she says. “That’s what I do.”
Sara grew up the middle of three children in New Rochelle – just 2 miles from the house she lives in today. Her parents, both social workers, instilled in Sara and her brothers the need – regardless of profession – to do good. All three became lawyers. She calls her older brother a radical, counterculture “champion of the people,” fighting the good fight out in Washington state. Her younger brother, meanwhile, practices land use law in Westchester.
After following a circuitous path that included a stint as a litigator in New York City, a class action arbitrator working remotely from home and a school board president, Sara found school law. And never looked back.
The path began in Manhattan, where she earned her law degree magna cum laude from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and then did what was expected: Go to work at a large New York City firm.
“If you did well in law school, that was the place to go,” she says.
Sara bounced between the litigation, labor and trust and estate practices until the “litigators pulled me in,” she says.
But after several years, she knew litigation was not a good fit.
“With my temperament, I wasn’t suited to do litigation,” she says. “I’m more of a conciliator than a fighter.”
She left her litigation practice after the birth of her first child. While home, she started working for an arbitration think tank, conducting remote hearings in large class action lawsuits.
“I did that for many years while my kids were little, and then I got very involved in their schools and ended up running for school board in New Rochelle,” she says.
That’s how Sara met Jeffrey Kehl, the attorney who represented New Rochelle City School District.
“I was always sort of fascinated by what he did,” she says. “And when I was leaving the school board, he asked if I wanted to come work for him and do school law.”
Kehl, Katzive and Simon hired Sara in 2011. Three years later, the firm combined with Bond. She works out of Bond’s Westchester office.
“I love what I do,” she says. “I feel that my clients are all incredibly conscientious and good people. You don’t go into education because you don’t want to support children.”
When people ask her to describe what she does, she ironically points to the Tom Hagen character in “The Godfather” – the consigliere who advises the Corleone crime family.
“In a lot of ways, that’s my role with the superintendents or with the directors or with heads of school,” she says. “I’m there to talk them through, to give them legal advice and be part of their decision-making and support team. To help them figure out solutions that serve the good of children. I really enjoy it.”
She counsels public, private and charter schools in Westchester County, on Long Island and within the greater New York City region.
In addition to all manner of puzzles, Sara fills her free time with tennis and traveling with her husband, a marketing executive, and their three children: the oldest, who works for the New York State Senate Democrats, the middle child, who’s earning a master’s degree in European history at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany, and the youngest, a junior at Harvard University.
“They’re all really good people, that’s the important part,” she says.