20 Under 40: New leaders, classic values

Lucy M. Gerviss, 34
Schwerzmann & Wise

Hometown: Depew, presently lives in Watertown
Professional position: Attorney, probate and estate planning
Family: Four dogs and one rabbit: Daisy, Maddy, Dreyfus, Diamond and Norton
Education: Depew High School; bachelor’s degree, SUNY Buffalo; juris doctorate, University of Miami
Community involvement: Past president, secretary and current member, Watertown Evening Rotary
Last book read: “The Best of Me” by Nicholas Sparks

Lucy M. Gerviss did not set out to be a lawyer. She started in science.

She designed her own major in molecular microbiology at State University at Buffalo, where she worked at the Hauptmann-Woodward Medical Research Institute and the university laboratory. Through her work in the lab, she became interested in forensics, which eventually led her to consider law school. Shortly after beginning studies for a law degree at the University of Miami, Ms. Gerviss was hit with another surprise: She couldn’t stand criminal law. What she discovered, however, was an affinity for tax law and contracts. Though it was unexpected at the time, Ms. Gerviss now attributes it to the analytical mindset she developed as a student.

Ms. Gerviss was influenced by her mentor in college, Dr. Tom Melendy. “He’s the one who really pushed me to design my whole major and get into the microbiology field,” she said. Working with Dr. Melendy allowed her to focus on the subjects she found most interesting and to study them at the highest level. She even considered graduate work in the field before deciding on law school.

Ms. Gerviss cites her early years as an attorney with providing some of her most significant career achievements. She was thrown into the deep end shortly after starting her first job at a large Miami law firm and took to the waters immediately, eventually ending up with her own caseload and staff. The science-minded tax attorney took the lessons she learned from that position with her as she returned to New York.

-Daniel Flatley
[Editor’s note: This is a truncated version of this story. For the full version, please see NNY Business in print or subscribe.]

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