Firm History


The Shaw & Shaw Story

The Shaw & Shaw story is all about caring. Caring about each other, caring about what we do, and most importantly, caring about our clients in a way that seperates our firm from all the others.

Shaw & Shaw was founded in 1976 by brothers James and Joseph Shaw. Shaw & Shaw started out as a two-lawyer firm with one part-time secretary. The office was originally located on Electric Avenue in Lackawanna, New York. James and Joseph shared office space with State Music Distributors, a vending business which they owned and operated with its founder and their father, the legendary Joseph H. Shaw, Sr.

Shaw & Shaw started as a general practice, focusing in the areas of Matrimonial/FamilyLaw, Real Estate, Criminal Defense, Estates, Corporate/Business, Entertainment Law, Sports Agency Work and Liquor Law Licensing issues.

James Shaw developed the Matrimonial/Family Law and Criminal Defense practice areas, and during his tenure, was known as one of the most respected and knowledgeable attorneys in these areas. Among his many accomplishments, James Shaw served as President of the Erie County Bar Association and held numerous other positions within the Erie County and New York State Bar Associations, entrenching Shaw & Shaw as one of the premier firms in New York State.

Joseph Shaw was the driving force behind the development of Shaw & Shaw’s Real Estate and Business practice areas. During the 1980s and 1990s, Joseph Shaw gained notoriety as a Sports and Entertainment attorney representing sports and entertainment personalities including, James Haslett, Steve Tasker, Bruce Smith, Cornelius Bennett, Jim Kelly, and others.

In 2014, both James and Joe decided to sell their stock in Shaw & Shaw and continue to work on a consulting basis, as well as act as mentors to assist the firm with the transition. Their efforts to date have ensured the continuation of Shaw & Shaw as one of the premier law firms in New York State.

In 1986, Leonard Zaccagnino joined the firm as an Associate. With the support of James and Joe, Leonard was the driving force in the development of Shaw & Shaw’s Personal Injury practice. Today, Shaw & Shaw is recognized as one of the elite firms in the Personal Injury area.

Leonard is presently the Senior Equity Partner and majority owner of Shaw & Shaw, taking on a leadership role and focusing in the areas of Shaw & Shaw Business Development and Practices, primarily in the areas of Personal Injury and Criminal Defense.

Among other things, Leonard is a frequent lecturer and writer, focusing in the area of Trial Practice. He is also affiliated with the University of Buffalo Law School as a teacher and Trial Team Coach, working with law students.

During the 2000s Shaw & Shaw expanded its operations, adding attorneys Christopher Pannozzo, Jennifer Burke, Jacob Piorkowski, Samantha Schultz, Blake Zaccagnino, and Matthew Kielich.

Christopher Pannozzo joined the firm as an Associate, initially working in the areas of Personal Injury and Criminal Defense. He brings an extensive wealth of knowledge and experience.

With Leonard, he has been integral in the firm’s continued development and success of its Personal Injury, Criminal Defense and, most recently, Estate practice areas.

Christopher became an Equity Partner in 2014, and continues to work in the areas of Personal Injury, Criminal Defense, Civil Litigation, and Estates. Christopher acts as a mentor to associate attorneys and staff to ensure the continued growth and expansion of Shaw & Shaw.

Christopher is also a frequent lecturer with the Erie County Bar Association and, as an Equity Partner, has taken on further responsibilities of business management and development.

Jennifer Burke joined Shaw & Shaw as an Associate and presently joins Christopher as an Equity Partner. She is presently the Managing Attorney in charge of the Real Estate practice. Taking the lead, she and her staff have expanded the Real Estate practice with her flare for business development, and personality that attracts clients and key employees. Jennifer has also taken on the additional role of Managing Partner, overseeing the day to day operations of the firm.

Jacob Piorkowski focuses his practice in the areas of Personal Injury and Corporate Law, including liquor licensing issues. Jacob brings a rare talent and enthusiasm which combines knowledge with a magnetic personality, attracting key clients and businesses. Jacob is rapidly becoming recognized as a rising star in the legal community having been involved in legal matters which, in some instances, have gained national attention.

Samantha Schultz originally joined the firm focusing her practice area in Matrimonial/Family Law. Under the mentoring and guidance of founding partner James Shaw, Samantha is rapidly developing an expertise in this area. Samantha brings knowledge and a calming presence which is critical when representing individuals entangled in these life changing issues which are often complicated and emotionally overwhelming for the parties involved. Samantha is also certified as a matrimonial mediator, for which she is highly regarded.Recently, Samantha has also been involved in Shaw & Shaw’s expanding Estate practice with Christopher.

The most recent additions to the Shaw & Shaw legal team are attorneys Blake Zaccagnino and Matthew Kielich. Both Blake and Matthew are recent admittees to the New York State Bar. They both share an enthusiasm and relentless work ethic which is contagious.

Blake focuses his areas of practice in Personal Injury, Criminal Defense and General Civil Matters, including evictions and Appellate Practice.

Matthew joins the firm having a J.D. – M.B.A. dual degree. He focuses in the areas of Commercial Real Estate, Business Transactional Work, and Corporate Matters.

At the core of Shaw & Shaw is our incredible support staff, including our bookkeeper MaryAnn Dunne, senior paralegal Gail Galfo, and legal assistants Tara Rinaldi, Kathy VanNote, Laura Cye, Mary Starr, Katrina Schmitt-Ruof, Karen Colvin, Victoria Lorenzo, and Kimberley Preischel.

Shaw & Shaw prides itself on a family atmosphere. Every attorney and employee of Shaw & Shaw is integral to the continued development and expansion of Shaw & Shaw. Shaw & Shaw exists to serve clients with excellence in all areas. Shaw & Shaw’s attorneys and staff have been hand-picked. Together, the synergy created through each individual’s efforts and joint commitment to excellence in client service allows Shaw & Shaw to stand alone.