Welcome to ILN-terviews, a series of profiles of ILN member firm attorneys, designed to give a unique insight into the lawyers who make up our Network. For our latest interview, we chose ILN member, Bill Ruskin of our member firm, Epstein Becker & Green in New York!
In one sentence, how would you describe your practice?
At its core, I defend corporate clients who are alleged to have caused harm to persons or property due to their manufacturing or marketing of products or by their historical waste disposal practices.
Who would be your typical client?
A typical client is someone who makes something.
What would you like clients and potential clients to know about you?
I am a problem solver. I take pride in knowing that clients can carry on with their business while I work hard addressing their issue.
What has been your most challenging case? Why?
My most challenging case was a Superfund cost recovery action in federal court in Pensacola, Florida. My client – a chemical manufacturing facility – had spent millions and millions of dollars cleaning up decades-old contamination. We brought suit against the prior owners of the plant and adjacent industrial owners to pay their fair share of the clean-up costs. We were up against eight adversaries – a case of David and Goliath. It is challenging enough to litigate against one adversary, it is very challenging to litigate against eight. We successfully managed one-on-one mediation with each to achieve a series of successful settlements.
What has been your proudest moment as a lawyer?
I received a decision on behalf of a client in another environmental cost recovery case, which was the culmination of a 3-month trial against one of the world’s largest mining companies. Through extensive discovery, we were able to undermine the credibility of the adversary’s technical experts – through use of historical aerial photographs and their own client’s production documents, which demonstrated that extensive contamination had taken place on our adversary’s watch. The case was extremely complex and required us to fully understand the impact of six decades of contamination.
What do you do when you’re not practicing law?
I spend time with my family and play tennis (poorly!).
What would surprise people most about you?
I am a huge Cornell ice hockey fan.
What has been your most memorable ILN experience?
My most memorable ILN experience was obtaining a dismissal forum non conveniens for a Spanish-based manufacturing client of ILN counsel in Barcelona. The client was sued in federal court in New York City by a New York-based food conglomerate seeking millions of euros in damages for a massive consumer food product recall in several E.U. countries. After submitting our papers to the court, the plaintiff agreed to dismiss the case.
What career would you have chosen if you weren’t a lawyer?
I would be a History Professor, teaching a course about how movies impact political and societal views.
If a movie were made of your life, who would you want to play you?
That’s easy, James Stewart. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence are two of my favorite films.
How would you like to be remembered?
Riding off into the sunset on a white palomino.