Monthly Feature: Get to Know... Erin Torcello

September 1, 2018

“If you can push aside your stereotypes and preconceived notions and remain open to discovery, life will take you to places you never imagined you would end up.”

Erin Torcello knew early on that she wanted to be an attorney, dreaming of a big city practice—New York, Boston, Washington, D.C. But as she came to learn, sometimes the place you should be finds you, if you’re open to the invitation. 

In part because Erin is as good at listening to sound advice as she is dispensing it, she has achieved her dreams, and then some, both at Bond and as a resident of Buffalo, a city she is pleased and proud to call home. 

Erin works closely with her clients as a strategic business partner to provide practical solutions to complex legal issues in the workplace. Erin represents and counsels management in the private and public sectors, including municipalities and school districts on a host of labor and employment matters, including employment discrimination and workplace harassment, collective bargaining and wage and hour issues, wrongful discharge, civil rights litigation, layoffs, personnel policies, employee handbooks, labor arbitration, and unfair labor practice charges. Her practice runs the gamut and she assumes many different roles-- advisor, instructor and litigator. 

 “It’s rewarding to work alongside my clients as a trusted advisor. A business can use an attorney in one of two ways; as a business partner that’s part of the team, or as an insurance policy for when there’s a crisis. I much prefer to be involved from the outset on a situation that may have some risk. That small investment in my time can avoid the larger cost of a lawsuit.”

Erin’s father, a county attorney for social services, cultivated his daughter’s interest in the law. “My dad made decisions about what parents were fit to be parents, which had a far-reaching influence on those peoples’ lives. I give attorneys who do that work so much credit—it’s hard stuff. My parents expected my sister and me to work, which gave me a better understanding of employer and employee issues and perspectives which continue to inform my practice.”

Erin first joined Bond as a summer associate, and discovered a passion for helping employers navigate a complex and ever-changing practice area. “People may wonder how on earth being a labor and employment attorney can be someone’s passion, but I see my work as on the leading edge of dealing with large changes in society, such as social media, as they enter and affect individual workplaces.”

“We think in 140 characters. What looks good in a tweet or Facebook post may lead to a simplification of complex ideas. We have to look beyond the pat answer. The headline is not the story. You have to read the story.”

“It remains to be seen how this phenomenon will affect the workplace and human behavior. We haven’t seen the greater potential effects of these differences in communication styles yet. But in my practice it continues to be a challenge to bridge the gap in generations, and not just with millennials.” 

Sharon Porcellio, a member of the firm who often works with Erin, said about her, “Erin is the future of the firm and a great hope for all the attorneys that follow her. She is everything you would want a person to be; as a lawyer, as a friend, and as a confidant and counselor. She gives her heart to everything she does yet has a practical streak that’s very important.”

Erin, who along with her husband is raising two children in Buffalo, serves on the board of directors of the children’s museum Explore & More, which is in the process of moving to new, expanded quarters at Canalside. “This has been a perfect opportunity for me to devote my expertise to an important development in the City of Buffalo and an up and coming organization. I serve on the executive committee, the HR committee, the governance committee and am the secretary of the board. It is a lot of work but the rewards are many. I have discovered the perfect intersection of the three most important aspects of my life: my family, my profession and my city. 

“In my role on the Board, I have been able to offer a legal perspective to help Explore & More reach its goal of moving to Canalside and become a major cultural and tourism anchor in Western New York. Over the 10 years I’ve lived in Buffalo, the changes that have occurred are unbelievable. It’s cool to watch the revitalization of the city and even more exciting to play a role in it.”