The Firm

Success is much more than an expectation.  It’s the highest calling we have.  It takes extraordinary preparation, intensity, experience, insight and uncompromising standards.

Our passion for litigation is more than just a business.

For us, it’s personal.

Smith Sovik is a medium-sized law firm founded in 1948 by two like-minded classmates from Syracuse University School of Law, Laurence “Larry” Sovik and John Timothy Smith.  After graduating law school and reaching the level of partner at another Syracuse firm, Smith, Sovik and a third attorney and SU Law professor, Victor Levine, formed what is now the Smith Sovik Law Firm in 1946.  While it began as a general practice law firm (as were all firms during those years), it developed over time into a firm primarily focused on litigation and trial practice and along the way became one of the premier litigation firms in Central New York with a well earned reputation for the most effective, intelligent, hard-nosed and successful trial attorneys in the area.  In fact, several of the lawyers of Smith Sovik have been regularly recognized by their peers and have been identified as among the nation’s “Best Lawyers” and “Super Lawyers” in their fields of practice.

Smith Sovik maintains its center of operations in the middle of the state here in Syracuse, New York, but its attorneys litigate in all the State and Federal courts and enjoy a reputation as leaders in their fields of trial practice throughout the state.  Our downstate office, located in Uniondale, services Long Island, New York City and the counties in the southern New York State.

The Firm’s areas of litigation practice include medical and professional liability, products liability, automobile, trucking, vehicle and aircraft liability, construction litigation, municipal law, commercial law, labor and employment practices law, environmental and toxic tort liability, general negligence and premises liability and workers’ compensation law, as well as appellate advocacy in all of those areas.


Medical and Professional Liability


We defend medical, dental, chiropractic, podiatric, hospital, nursing home, legal, accounting, architectural, engineering, construction and other professional liability claims and lawsuits on behalf of individuals and corporations and their insurers.  We also have provided litigation management and have worked closely with insureds and professional organizations in conducting seminars and workshops on risk management and lawsuit-related topics.

The firm defends professional malpractice claims for some of the largest insurers in New York State.  The corporate entities for which the firm has provided such services include Medical Liability Mutual Insurance Company, Academic Health Professionals Insurance Association, Chartis Insurance, National Chiropractic Mutual and CNAHealthPro, among others.

Our aggressive, proactive, hands-on approach enables us to obtain the very best results for our clients.  We also regularly defend physicians of all specialties in disciplinary and licensing matters before the Office of Professional Medical Conduct and nurses, social workers, chiropractors and psychologists before the Office of Professional Discipline. These are difficult matters that require the experienced, knowledgeable and aggressive representation that our attorneys can provide. Our trial attorneys are the best and most qualified to successfully defend professional malpractice claims in Upstate New York.

As a by-product of our continued relationship in representing medical professionals in the state, we have developed and maintained strong working relationships with a number of experts in various medical specialties, which also provides us with access to experts that other firms do not have in other areas of litigation.


Products Liability


Smith Sovik has been defending manufacturers and distributors of products against lawsuits since the inception of products liability law in the 1960s.  Among the corporate insurers for which the firm has performed this work are Wausau Insurance Companies, Hartford Insurance Company, Chartis Insurance, XL Insurance, Liberty Mutual, Travelers and CNA.  We regularly lecture to attorney and industry groups on defense techniques, strategies and risk management issues.


Environmental and Toxic Tort Litigation


The firm is regularly involved in extensive litigation in the area of chemical and toxic material cleanup, chemical exposure and nuclear power regulation.  Cases have included allegations of personal injury, private property, public property losses and public nuisance and have originated for such corporate insurers as Chartis Insurance, Travelers Insurance Company, XL Insurance, Wausau Insurance Companies and Hartford Insurance Company.

We defend asbestos-related lawsuits all over New York State.  We also defend silica cases, lead paint, mold and other toxic tort matters in the state and federal courts.  In addition to federal and state court litigation in these areas, the firm's members are also experienced in appearing for these clients at remediation proceedings on these issues.


Automobile, Trucking, Vehicle and Aircraft Liability


The firm represents several major insurance carriers and does extensive defense work relating to motor vehicle liability, including automobile and truck losses.  The firm's clients include McLane, Werner, Grocery Haulers, UPS, Federal Express and many other trucking companies.

In the motor vehicle liability areas, the firm has established substantial law in New York State, including the now widely recognized "seat belt doctrine" as a defense.  Members of the firm have been on the Standards Committees on Automobile Litigation in the New York State Bar Association and the American Bar Association.  In addition to automobile and truck liability, the firm is involved in ambulance liability and related matters such as motor home and aircraft liability.


Construction Litigation


Smith Sovik has represented major construction interests in litigation matters, both through their insurers and directly.  The subject matters involved have included issues relating to the Labor Law, as well as the design and construction of such diverse entities as municipal parking garages, interstate highways, state athletic facilities, public buildings and residential developments.  Representation has been on behalf of the State of New York, counties, villages and cities, as well as private contractors, sureties, architects and engineers. 


General Negligence and Premises Liability


In addition to the specific areas of insurance and liability law expertise outlined above, the attorneys of Smith Sovik regularly defend major retailers, other corporations, universities, municipalities and individuals in general and premises liability matters, wrongful death, negligence, defamation and business tort claims.  We also prosecute large subrogation matters for our insurance carrier clients.


Municipal Law


The firm represents several municipalities as general counsel and continuously represents town zoning boards and planning boards, acting as special counsel in real property tax litigation.

We also regularly defend the State of New York, counties, towns, cities and villages in litigation-related matters all over Upstate and Central New York, including claims of premises liability, highway maintenance and construction, and police liability.


Commercial Law


Smith Sovik routinely represents universities, corporations and individuals in commercial litigation venued in State and Federal courts involving breach of contract, business torts, loss of business income, collection disputes, stock purchase agreements, and anti-competitive agreements.  Members of our firm also represent various local businesses in areas of incorporation, obtaining franchises, and in their legal relationships with their suppliers, customers, representatives and finances.


Labor and Employment Practices Liability


The firm represents numerous large and small corporations in labor and employment-related litigation.  We aggressively investigate and defend matters involving all types of claimed discrimination, Title VII/Human Rights Law violations and alleged wrongful discharge matters before the EEOC, the State Division of Human Rights, and the state and federal courts.  Indeed, we have been appointed Northeast Regional Counsel for several large international corporations.

We also provide training for managers and administrators in management of sexual harassment claims, internal investigation of claims of discrimination, defense of wrongful termination claims, employee discipline and dismissal, substance abuse, AIDS in the workplace, privacy rights of employees, collective bargaining issues, arbitration of claims, positive employee relations and the Americans With Disabilities Act.


Workers' Compensation

Smith Sovik handles the defense of workers’ compensation claims all over Upstate New York.  We also provide in-house training seminars and appellate representation.


Appellate Advocacy

Although our firm is best known for its trial work, we are very proud of our outstanding record of success at the appellate level in front of the New York State Appellate Divisions, as well as the New York State Court of Appeals.  We also have successfully handled federal appeals before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City.

Our concise but creative brief writing skill, together with our direct and compelling advocacy, has helped our clients obtain the best results possible at the appellate level.  We are experienced and well qualified to handle appellate work in virtually every area of the law.  Our most senior partner, Laurence "Fritz" Sovik, essentially invented the "seat belt defense" in Spier v. Barker.  Our name is on the cutting edge of appellate advocacy on many Labor Law/Construction decisions, trucking/motor vehicle and product liability decisions and appellate decisions impacting medical and professional malpractice.

Smith Sovik has spent years developing its well-earned reputation as a leader in the field of litigation and trial practice in Central New York, which continues to the present time.  Our attorneys take great pride in the atmosphere of hard work and dedication to uncompromising standards of practice that were established so many years ago by Larry Sovik and John Timothy Smith, and which as been responsible for the extraordinary success of the firm on behalf of its clients throughout the years.


The lawyers of Smith Sovik are passionate about litigation and passionate about successfully representing the interests of our clients in each and every case we take.

We understand our clients, will fight to succeed for each of them and strive hard to ensure  success for every client we represent.

For us, it’s personal.


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