Undergraduate Research and Creativity Alumni Profiles 

Henry Zomerfeld, B.S. ’11

Litigation Attorney, Kenney Shelton Liptak Nowak LLP
Major(s): Political Science, Legal Studies

What research or work have you done since graduating from Buffalo State?

After graduating from Buffalo State, I went to the University at Buffalo Law School to earn my law degree. After graduating from law school in 2014, I sat for the New York Bar Exam and was admitted to practice law in New York in January of 2015.

I am a litigation attorney working in the Buffalo office of Kenney Shelton Liptak Nowak LLP. My practice is focused on insurance and commercial litigation at both the trial and appellate levels. My skills, abilities, and success as an attorney have been recognized by Thomson Reuters Super Lawyers, who selected me for inclusion as an Upstate New York Rising Star in 2017. The list recognizes no more than 2.5 percent of attorneys in each state.

Can you translate your work for the general public?

In practice, I am conducting research and writing legal briefs and memoranda regularly. My efforts span from simple research and writing tasks to very complex legal issues, some of which are novel issues or those of first impression, having limited legal authority.

Whether a letter to a client, a memorandum to a partner, a motion to a trial court, or a brief to an appellate court, I regularly prepare well-researched objective and persuasive written works. I also write articles for publication in legal periodicals. Last year, I co-authored a piece titled: "I am sorry! Please forgive me! Vacating a Default Judgment in Instances Where Counsel was Inadvertently not Timely Assigned", which was featured in the Spring 2017 issue of The Defendant, the publication for The Defense Association of New York, Inc.

Why did you decide to get involved in undergraduate research?

During my undergraduate career, the Political Science Department, especially my mentor, encouraged students to participate in research. Not only were we required to take research courses in our discipline, but research was a significant piece of preparing papers in many of our classes. Sharpening research and writing skills would serve us well during our time in college. This was all the more for those of us going on to graduate or professional school. Knowing of my desire to go to law school, and my interest in research and writing, I pursued undergraduate research because I knew it would be valuable for me at the college and law school levels, and beyond.

How did your undergraduate research experience influence your career path?

My undergraduate research project took several years to compile. What began as a sophomore final paper transformed into a large-scale qualitative and quantitative research analysis that we presented to those in the field of political science, and later had published as a book chapter. The success we experienced because of our hard work was truly rewarding. The skills of researching, writing, analyzing, and synthesizing, and then molding that all into a work that was appropriate for peer review for publication, as well as presentation as political science conferences, prepared me for the rigors of law school and practice as an attorney. Every day, I am preparing quality work that will be seen by clients, colleagues, adversaries, and the judges I appear before. I reflect on and use the skills from my undergraduate research experience in my career as an attorney, and am grateful for that opportunity.

Describe the research you did and if you presented it at any professional conference, juried art exhibit, or other off-campus location.

With the guidance and assistance of my mentor, we took a paper I had written on same-sex marriage in the U.S. and transformed it into a project that we could evaluate on a larger scale through the collection and analysis of existing data, as well as data we would obtain. We were able to obtain data and write a piece that was eventually published with Sage in 2012 as a book chapter titled "The Absence of African American Churches in the Same-Sex Marriage Battle." Around the time our book chapter was under review, New York legalized same-sex marriage, which emphasized how timely our research was in this area. We presented our research and findings at the Student Research and Creativity symposium at Buffalo State, the New York State Political Science Association and the American Political Science Association conferences.

Undergraudate Research Mentor: Dr. Kyeonghi Baek