Cecelia’s practice focuses on dispute resolution in the commercial context and in the trust, estate, and elder law areas. She brings strategic thinking paired with strong advocacy to bear on your case.
The personalities and relationships among family members and the partners in closely held businesses greatly affect the dynamics of any dispute in these areas. Cecelia understands that the legal theories advocated in the courtroom have real world consequences for your business, your family, and your life. In each case, she works with the client to consider those consequences, risks, and benefits, and form a strategy that takes those factors into account.
In the trusts, estates, and elder law area, Cecelia has litigated a broad array of issues. She has worked on numerous estate and trust administration issues, representing both trustees and beneficiaries of those trusts in disputes regarding whether the fiduciary has acted appropriately in handling the trust or estate assets. Cecelia has defended trustees against challenges by beneficiaries to distributions and sophisticated tax planning strategies. She has represented clients in guardianship proceedings, and has litigated related issues such as a lack of capacity to execute legal documents, as well as issues of undue influence in the creation of powers of attorney, wills and trusts. Cecelia serves as a court-appointed guardian ad litem for those unable to adequately represent their own interests. She is a frequent speaker on trust and estate administration issues and litigation.
In the commercial context, Cecelia has frequently represented clients in negotiations and litigation with respect to challenging & defending business valuations, disputes among partners regarding management of the company, enforcing and challenging non-compete agreements, and other issues that frequently arise in the context of closely-held businesses. She also has significant experience advocating for clients in contract disputes with parties outside the business.
Cecelia appears in front of a wide variety of judicial forums on behalf of her clients, including federal court, Surrogate’s Court, other state trial courts, state appellate courts, administrative forums, and in arbitration. She has also argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on a consumer rights – consumer protection case. Despite her comfort with courtroom advocacy, however, Cecelia knows that for many individuals, the courtroom is the last place they want to be. Therefore she is just as persistent in advocating for you behind the scenes in settlement negotiations as she is in the courtroom.
- Represented clients in numerous trials before a variety of judicial forums, including multiple commercial disputes involving closely held businesses
- Argued before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on consumer-rights cases, Nick’s Garage Inc. v. Progressive and Nick’s Garage Inc. v. Nationwide
- Argues before the New York State Appellate Courts
- Is regularly appointed as a guardian ad litem in Surrogate Court and Supreme Court proceedings
- Represented clients in FINRA arbitrations and enforcement actions
Affiliations and Acknowledgements
- New York State Bar Association, Trust & Estate Section, CLE Committee member
- Women’s Bar Association of Central New York, Member
- Onondaga County Bar Association
- New York State Bar Association
- New York Academy of Trial Attorney
- Super Lawyers Upstate NY Edition – Rising Star 2015 – 2019; 2021
- 2018 Graduate, Leadership Greater Syracuse
- National Business Institute ” Trusts: the Ultimate Guide – Legal Ethics” and ” Trusts: the Ultimate Guide – Revocable v. Irrevocable” , July 18, 2019
- Probate and Administration of Estates, New York State Bar Association, “Accounting and Settlement of the Estate”, October 2016
- Estate Planning for Farmers and Ranchers, National Business Institute, “Agricultural Use Valuations” and “Non-Tax Estate Planning Considerations”, August 2016
- The Probate & Administration of Estates, New York State Bar Association, November 2014, Speaker on “Accounting & Settlement of Estates”
- Probate Process, National Business Institute Seminar, August 2014 – Speaker on “Litigating the Case in Probate Court”
- Discovery Proceedings for Trusts and Estates Practitioners, New York State Bar Association, May 2014 – Speaker on “Turnover Phase, Discovery & Trial”
- Contested Accounting Proceedings in Surrogate’s Court, New York State Bar Association, May 2013 – Speaker on “Mock 2211 Examination” and “Trial”
- CLE Committee of the New York State Bar Association, Trust & Estate Section
- Cornell Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County, Board of Directors
- Cornell Alumni Association-Central NY Chapter – Board of Directors
- AmeriCorps, Volunteer 2003-2004
J.D., Cornell University Law School, 2008, Magna Cum Laude, Order of the Coif
B.A., Cornell University, 2003, Cum Laude
United States Court of Federal Claims
Northern District of New York
US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit