Marie Napoli Featured in Attorney at Law Magazine
January 5, 2016 | Napoli Shkolnik News
For their first anniversary edition, Attorney at Law Magazine Long Island chose Marie Napoli as their cover story! The feature highlights Marie’s beginning as a law clerk in her father’s practice, to meeting her husband Paul, to founding her own practice last year. The story also discusses Marie’s work-life balance as well her passion for philanthropy and advocacy for women’s health issues. Well done, Marie!
People come to the practice of law in different ways. In Marie Napoli’s case, it could be said the law came to her. The Long Island native, partner at Napoli Shkolnik PLLC, grew up helping her father, John Kaiser, Esq., in his law office. There she learned how to help her clients from the bottom up.
“I worked in all different capacities at the firm learning all the nooks and crannies of plaintiff litigation,” Marie says. “This gave me the experience to understand every aspect of how a firm operates. Being brought up in a thriving practice, the law excited me and I feel very at home doing plaintiff litigation work.”
As a child, both at home and at the Catholic schools she attended, the importance of giving back to others was instilled in Napoli. The desire to help others who may have nowhere else to turn was, and continues to be, a common theme in her life.
Choosing the Law
Marie blended her desire to be an advocate for people in need with a law career, and became a plaintiff ’s attorney like her father. Like Marie, her husband Paul Napoli, whom she married in 1997, is also a second-general plaintiff ’s attorney. She and Paul met briefly during law school, but began dating after running into each other in a court hallway – they were trying cases in adjacent courtrooms. That chance meeting eventually left the couple to join both their lives and their law careers.
“I have always loved working with him and he with me,” Marie says. “We complement each other. I had taken time off to raise our three children and have come back into practice. We have come full circle as to how we started our practice and relationship.”
The couple founded the firm Napoli, Kaiser & Associates in 1997. One of the firm’s landmark cases was the fen-phen diet drug litigation. What followed was a billion-dollar settlement which helped cement the firm’s presence in the mass tort arena. Today, the firm of Napoli Shkolnik LLP, which has headquarters in New York and Illinois, along with offices in nine other states, employs over 150 people. The firm handles tort cases in personal injury, pharmaceutical litigation, aviation accidents, toxic torts, environmental catastrophes and other complex litigation areas. While the firm is large enough to handle mass tort cases at a national level, Marie points out that it is still small enough to care about its individual clients.
“My approach is that every client matters,” she says. “We have to be sensitive to their needs. I instill that quality and concern in all our employees.”
“Whether it is helping a mother who is dealing with the loss of her child in a car accident or fighting billion-dollar companies like Uber for worker’s rights, Marie exhibits caring and a persistence unrivaled by any other lawyer.” Hunter Shkolnik, says of his partner Marie.
Sensitivity to people in need inspired the Napolis to establish The Marie and Paul Napoli Foundation in 2001. The organization supports a variety of charitable causes. Marie is also on the board of The Bone Marrow Foundation, which assists bone marrow and stem cell transplant patients and their families. She had been involved with the organization for years, even before Paul was diagnosed with leukemia and underwent a bone marrow transplant in 2014.
“I had already been involved in helping people who needed bone marrow transplants, I had all the information available to me and now we were going through it ourselves,” she says. “It was just a kind of unfortunate irony.” She adds that Paul is 100 percent recovered. During her family’s battle with the disease, the athletic Marie, still thinking of others, ran in the New York City Marathon and the Long Island Half Marathon, raising tens of thousands of dollars in contributions for the bone marrow organization and other cancer research.
Standing Up for Others
Marie took a hiatus from practicing law to raise the couple’s three children. Before Marie returned to law, Paul Napoli represented police and f irefighters in New York after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Now that she is back in practice, Marie too is representing victims of the attack who were later diagnosed with cancer and other illnesses related to the toxins and pollutants in the air in the months following the tragedy.
“It feels good to obtain financial compensation to help these people who are suffering from cancer,” she says. “I had cancer the year before my husband, so I really have a personal understanding of the impact that it has not only on you, but your whole family and your children.”
She is particularly passionate about the impact health issues have on women. Marie’s own experiences with cancer have broadened her perspective, and strengthened her resolve to continue advocating on behalf of women’s health issues. She has made this passion a primary focus of her current practice, representing women who have injuries caused by transvaginal mesh and women who have had children diagnosed with a variety of birth defects, including septal defects and cleft palates due to drugs given to them during pregnancy.
“Being a woman gives me an advantage when working with women with sensitive health issues,” Marie says.
“One thing about being a female attorney is that I can talk to women more comfortably than my male counterparts,” she says. “Women do not get the same kind of medical attention or treatment as our male counterparts. It feels good to stand up for women’s rights and challenges that are affecting women and families in particular.”
“I think the most important quality of a litigator is believing in what you are doing and having a passion for helping others who need it,” she continues. “I think that is important in any kind of advocacy in standing up for other people’s rights, to believe in what you are fighting for.”
Outside the Courtroom
Away from the office, Marie brings her expertise as a plaintiff ’s lawyer to St. John’s University, where both she and Paul earned their Juris Doctor. Marie’s father also received his law degree from the school. She is on the advisory board to the dean of the law school and is also on the university’s board of governors. Additionally, the Napolis showed their appreciation and support to their alma mater by donating the funds for a lecture hall to the school in 2004. The Paul and Marie Kaiser Napoli Lecture Hall features WiFi, charging stations and a SMART podium and seats more than 160 people.
While advocating for people in her professional and philanthropic life is top priority for Marie, most important to her is her own family.
Marie comes from a family of eight siblings and, in addition to the support of her parents in establishing her career as an attorney, she points to the way many of her siblings have supported the couple in the firm from the beginning. A few even work for the firm. Her brother, attorney Gerald Kaiser, worked with the couple in the firm’s early days, retired and then recently returned to the firm. Connie Adams, Marie’s sister and another brother, Fred Kaiser, also work for the firm in the IT department.
The couple have three children, Amanda, 15, Michael, 14, and Kaitlyn, 4. Away from the office, it is all about spending time with the family.
“I enjoy being with my family and my children,” Marie says. “We travel together, we ski together, we skate together, we go to the beach together. The most precious thing I do is spend time with my family.”
And she says she won’t be at all surprised if, with grandfathers who were attorneys and parents who are attorneys, the younger generation enters the practice too.
“I think that probably my two oldest will one day look at litigation as an option in their careers,” she says. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it flows over to the third generation.”
View the article, titled “Marie Napoli – Continuing a Legal Legacy”, here.
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