Our Attorneys

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Allan M. Lewis

Allan Lewis, Senior Partner and son of Norman Lewis, founder of our firm, has lived in the Buffalo area for over 70 years; 45 of those devoted to the practice of personal injury law. Allan’s success as a trial lawyer is unquestioned in the Western New York legal community. He has championed his client’s rights in all phases of legal proceedings, including a well-noted victory in New York’s Court of Appeals. Allan has obtained multimillion-dollar verdicts in cases involving medical malpractice, product liability, and motor vehicle accidents. He has had great success in the area of construction site accidents. By consistently putting in the time and effort necessary to obtain the best possible outcomes, Allan sets the standard for all of Lewis & Lewis’ attorneys.

Allan has served as a career long member of the New York State and Erie County Bar Associations. He has been an active member and held positions with the Western New York Trial Lawyers Association. He has been named a “Super Lawyer” in the area of General Litigation, by New York’s Super Lawyers Magazine, Upstate Edition. Allan’s breaks from the litigation world focus on time with family and his love of golf.

Education:
Bachelor of Science: History, University of Wisconsin, 1966
Juris Doctor: SUNY at Buffalo, 1969

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Jack G. Stiefel

Jack Stiefel, a life-long resident of Western New York, has been practicing Workers’ Compensation Law for over 35 years. Jack is the Senior Partner, practicing out of our Niagara Falls office. Prior to pursuing his legal career, Jack was a truck driver and member of Teamsters Local 375 for 9 years. He has hands-on experience with the challenges hard working men and women face in the work place; and the all to frequent opportunities employers and insurance companies take to infringe on workers’ rights. Jack is a founding member and has held leadership positions with New York State’s Injured Workers’ Bar Association. He is a long time member and former officer of New York State’s Workers’ Compensation Alliance. He has represented thousands of injured workers and obtained millions of dollars to compensate our clients.

Jack enjoys free time with his family. He is active in local high school athletics, serving as a referee for high school football and lacrosse.

Education:
Bachelor of Arts: Philosophy, Canisius College, 1971
Juris Doctor: St. John’s University, 1974

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George Panebianco

George Panebianco has lived in Jamestown his entire life. George has dedicated his over 25 year career to focusing on Jamestown’s ideals of a close-knit community and family ties and emulating those values in the way he practices law. His focus is always on his clients. George is the current President of Lewis & Lewis.

Education:
Bachelor of Arts: Political Science, Allegheny College, 1986
Bachelor of Arts: Economics, Allegheny College, 1986
Juris Doctor: Albany Law School, 1989

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Emily L. Downing

Emily Downing earned her undergraduate and law degree from the University at Buffalo. Both her BA and JD were awarded cum laude. Her undergraduate degree in Communications prepared her well for both law school and lawyering. While in Law School, she was a member of the Buffalo Law Review and served as the publication’s book review editor. She interviewed with Lewis & Lewis during the Spring of her final year of law school, accepted our offer of employment and has been with us ever since. Although her studies earned her certificates in both taxation and environmental law, Emily chose Lewis & Lewis based on her desire to work directly with clients. She values the opportunity to help real people, with serious problems.

During her two decades with Lewis & Lewis, Emily has worked in all aspects of our practice, including trials of serious personal injury cases. Her focus, and favorite job, is counseling injured workers and prosecuting their Workers’ Compensation claims. Emily is passionate about helping the “little guy” battle the big insurance company. As a working mother, she understands the difficulties of work-life balance, and the devasting effects a work injury or job loss can have on a family.

Beyond her legal career and family, one of Emily’s proudest accomplishments is the founding of a club aimed at bonding friendship through charitable work. More than 15 years ago, Emily invited a group of her closest friends to gather for monthly dinners, and each month one of them would pick a charity or group in need of help. Over the years, “The Giving Chix” have donated thousands of dollars, pounds of food, bundles of clothing, books for children and a variety of other items to those in need. Emily is life-long resident of the Buffalo area and finds it essential to give back to the community however she can.

Emily is a member of the New York State Bar Association, the New York State Injured Workers’ Bar Association and the Erie County Bar Association, in which she serves as an active member of the Workers’ Compensation Committee.

Education:
Bachelor of Arts: Communications, SUNY at Buffalo, 1993
Juris Doctor: SUNY at Buffalo, 1996

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Sheri N. DeFazio

Sheri DeFazio started her career with Lewis & Lewis’s workers’ compensation department in 2004, representing injured claimants. Sheri graduated from The University of Toronto in 1993, and she attended Law School in Buffalo. Before being admitted to the Bar, Sheri worked as a law clerk for a private firm doing insurance defense work for approximately 4 years. She has practiced workers’ compensation law since 2000.

Education:
Bachelor of Arts: Art and Science, University of Toronto, 1993
Juris Doctor: SUNY at Buffalo, 1998

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Emily F. Janicz

Emily F. Janicz joined Lewis & Lewis, P.C. as a law clerk in 2010 while attending law school. Emily is currently the administrative partner and co-manager of the firm’s Buffalo and Niagara Falls Offices.

A lifelong resident of Western New York, Emily earned her undergraduate degree in Business Administration – Registered Accounting Program with honors from the University of Buffalo in 2009. In 2012, Emily graduated with honors from the University at Buffalo School of Law.

Emily practices in the areas of Workers’ Compensation, Social Security Disability, and Personal Injury. Currently, Emily serves on the Board of Directors of the Injured Workers’ Bar Association and the Board of Directors for the Workers’ Compensation Alliance; she previously served on the Advisory Council of the Workers’ Compensation Board.

In addition, Emily serves proudly as the Deputy Town Attorney of her hometown – Newstead, New York.

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Michael T. Coutu

Mike Coutu has over 20 years of experience as an injury lawyer. He has successfully resolved hundreds of cases for his clients and has substantial court room experience at both the trial court and appellate level.

He also has training and experience as a mediator and arbitrator. He has been honored to be selected by other attorneys to help resolve cases for their clients.

As a former defense attorney, Mike particularly enjoys counseling clients injured through the negligence or fault of others. Our clients often have Workers’ Compensation and/or Social Security Disability claims in addition to personal injury cases from their construction site injury, injury on property, motor vehicle crash or injury due to a defective or dangerous product. It is only by helping our clients understand the relationship between all aspects of injury law that our clients can receive maximum compensation for their injuries.

Mike has earned an AV® Preeminent Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell. This is the preeminent rating for legal ability and ethics. It is the highest rating that a lawyer can receive from his peers – other lawyers and judges.

Mike is active as an educator and speaker regarding various personal injury topics and is a member of various bar associations including the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers, New York State Bar Association, Western New York Trial Lawyers Association, and the Erie County Bar Association.

Mike enjoys reading, traveling, spending time with his family and coaching youth baseball. He is active in youth sports, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and throughout the Grand Island community.

Education:
University of Vermont, BA Environmental Studies and Political Science, 1995
Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College, JD, 1998.

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Laurie M. Beckerink

Laurie M. Beckerink is a partner with Lewis & Lewis, P.C. Ms. Beckerink has extensive litigation experience and currently focuses her areas of practice in criminal law, real estate transactions, estate planning and estate work, family law, workers compensation and personal injury.

Born and raised in Chautauqua County Ms. Beckerink currently lives in Clymer, New York with her husband and two children and bases her practice out of the Jamestown, New York office of Lewis & Lewis P.C.

Ms. Beckerink attended St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, N.C. for her undergraduate degree and then received her Juris Doctor from the University at Buffalo School of Law. After being admitted to practice law in New York State in 2006 Ms. Beckerink returned to Chautauqua County to practice law. Ms. Beckerink is also admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York. Ms. Beckerink joined Lewis & Lewis, P.C. in 2014 and prior to that she worked as an Assistant District Attorney for Chautauqua County. Ms. Beckerink has extensive court room experience not only at the trial court level but also at the appellate level.

The most notable case that Ms. Beckerink has worked on in her career was as part of the trial prosecution team in the homicide trial of People v. Taglianetti, which was featured documentaries on Dateline, Investigation ID and the Oxygen channel.

In 2019 Ms. Beckerink was appointed by the Fourth Department Appellate Division to sit on the Grievance Committee for the 8th Judicial District of Western NY. She also serves as the Town Justice for the Town of Clymer. She is the President of the Jamestown Bar Association and a member of the New York State Bar Association.

Ms. Beckerink is active in her community and is a founding member of 5 Loaves and 2 Fish Ministry whose mission is to fight Childhood hunger in our community. 5&2 Ministry currently sends bags of food home on Friday afternoons with students in multiple school districts in Chautauqua County as well as supplying food and snacks to local libraries to feed children who attend library programs. As part of her work through 5&2 Ministry, the Zonta Club of Jamestown named her as one of their Women in Leadership for 2020. Ms. Beckerink also serves on the Clymer-French Creek Library Board and has been an active supporter of the Child Advocacy Program of Chautauqua County and is a member of their Less is More team that presents trainings at local schools and organizations who work with children on how to properly respond to disclosures of child sexual and physical abuse.

Ms. Beckerink enjoys working directly with clients on their legal needs and serving her community.

Education:
Bachelor of Arts: Political Science, St. Andrews Presbyterian College, 2002
Juris Doctor: SUNY at Buffalo, 2005

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John I. LaMancuso

John I. LaMancuso was born and raised in Western New York. He advises individual, business, and municipal clients in various legal matters and disputes in Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany, and Erie Counties.

In 2019, Super Lawyers named John a Rising Star. To be eligible for designation as a Rising Star, the attorney must be 40 years old or younger and in practice for 10 years or less. No more than 2.5% of lawyers in the state are designated Rising Stars.

John has substantial personal injury experience representing individuals seriously injured in car accidents, work accidents, falls and other incidents on construction sites, slips, trips, and falls on defective premises, dog bites and attacks, and sporting events and recreational activities.

John has been named to the National Trial Lawyers “Top 40 Under 40” list and has been rated by attorney rating firm, Martindale-Hubbell, “Distinguished” for High Professional Achievement and Ethics.

John is a member of the New York State Bar Association, the New York State Bar Association’s Civil Practice Law and Rules Committee, the American Association for Justice, the Bar Association of Erie County, the Jamestown Bar Association, the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, and the Robert H. Jackson Inn of Court. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Jamestown Bar Association. John is a past member of the New York State Bar Association’s Town and Village Justice Courts Task Force. John is admitted to practice in the Court of the State of New York and in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York (WDNY).

John finished in the top ten percent (10%) of his 1L class at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and was invited to join the Arizona State Law Journal. He then transferred to SUNY Buffalo Law School to finish his legal education where he intended to practice law – Western New York. While in law school, John was a summer clerk to a Justice of the New York State Supreme Court and clerked for a plaintiff’s firm in Buffalo.

Active in his community, John is a member of the Jamestown Kiwanis Club and the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation; Co-Chair of the Professionals Committee of the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County; and Chairman of the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County’s 2019 campaign. He resides in the Southern Tier with his wife and their two children.

Education:
Bachelor of Science: Indiana University - Bloomington, high honors
Juris Doctor: SUNY Buffalo Law School, magna cum laude

Representative Cases:
Matter of Ficek v Akron Cent. Sch. Dist., 144 A.D.3d 1601 (4th Dept 2016)
Sopkovich v Smith, 2018 164 A.D.3d 1598 (4th Dept 2018)

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Daniel P. Kuhn

Before joining Lewis & Lewis, Daniel Kuhn spent years representing many large employers and insurance companies. He now combines that knowledge and experience with his passion for the communities and families of Western New York. If you have been injured, Daniel will take the time to get to know you so he can find an approach that works for your life, not just your case.

Daniel manages the Batavia office of Lewis & Lewis, P.C., and assists with complex matters in both Niagara Falls and Buffalo offices.

After growing up in a Pennsylvania farming community, Daniel moved to Brockport. He lives there with his wife and three children. His family heritage is rooted in union blue-collar workers and skilled trades, including plumbers, miners, mechanics, and nurses.

Daniel is heavily involved in Scouting. He is a former Cubmaster, current Lion Den Leader, and New Member Coordinator, of Cub Scout Pack 316. Daniel is the Chaplain, a Committee Member, and Merit Badge Counselor, for BSA Troop 375. He is a volunteer for Girl Scouts of WNY. From 2017 to 2019, Daniel completed the Wood Badge program, the premier adult leadership training in Scouting.

Daniel's passion for justice and individual liberties guides his work. Daniel performs pro bono work supporting the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, handling matters throughout NY.

Daniel sits on the Board of Assessment Review for the Town of Sweden, and is a Small Claims Assessment Review Hearing Officer for the 7th and 8th Judicial Districts. He is also an adjunct professor at SUNY Brockport where he teaches courses in Constitutional law and procedure.

In his spare time, Daniel enjoys sailing, camping, classic cars, and PC gaming.

Education:
Bachelor of Science: Criminal Justice, SUNY College at Brockport, 2005, magna cum laude
Juris Doctor: SUNY at Buffalo, 2008, cum laude

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Michael C. Panebianco

Michael has returned to the Southern Tier, a place he has called home his entire life, to represent injured workers. Michael is passionate about counseling injured workers because his father suffered a career ending work injury many years ago. As a result, he has a keen understanding of the physical, emotional, and financial toll that a serious physical injury may have on a family.

Michael will also focus his practice on criminal defense. He understands the negative effect that a criminal conviction can have on a person’s life. In law school, he interned at The Center for Community Alternatives, where he counseled individuals in an effort to help them overcome the barriers to employment and education that they faced due to their prior criminal convictions.

Michael worked as a law clerk with Lewis and Lewis, P.C. during the Summer of 2015, and he is excited to return as an associate attorney.

In his free time, Michael enjoys golfing, fishing, and spending time with his friends and family.

Education:
Bachelor of Arts: Political Science, SUNY Fredonia, 2013
Bachelor of Arts: Economics, SUNY Fredonia, 2013
Juris Doctor: Syracuse University College of Law, 2016

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Jesselyn Zailac

Jesselyn Zailac, our newest attorney, is a lifelong resident of Western New York. She grew up in Angola and moved to Buffalo for college. At the University of Buffalo she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art and Art History, followed by a Master of Arts in Arts Management. Jesselyn spent 4 years working for a local non-profit arts organization before deciding to attend law school. She graduated from the University at Buffalo’s School of Law in 2020. Jesselyn finds that her background in the arts lends itself to lawyering, by helping her come up with creative solutions to tough problems.

Jesselyn’s focus at Lewis & Lewis is in the areas of Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability law. She is a member of the New York State Injured Worker’s Bar Association. She looks forward to doing work that will help injured people through difficult life experiences. Outside of work, she enjoys all things outdoors – including hiking and horseback riding.

Education:
Bachelor of Arts: Studio Art and Art History, University at Buffalo, 2012
Master of Arts: Art Management, University at Buffalo, 2014
Juris Doctor: University at Buffalo, 2020

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