For Managing Associate Stephen Wah of Pasich LLP’s New York office, becoming a lawyer was a strong childhood goal of which he never lost sight. Today, he brings that same level of focused determination to obtaining positive results for clients.
As a member of the firm’s insurance recovery practice, Stephen handles a wide range of complex coverage disputes, including first- and third-party claims, insurance broker liability, directors and officers liability, and bad faith litigation. He has recovered millions of dollars in wrongfully denied insurance proceeds and related damages.
Learn more about Stephen both professionally and personally below:
How and why did you decide on a career as a lawyer?
On the first day of kindergarten, my teacher took photos of each student. When taking my photo, my teacher noted that I “looked like a little lawyer” and from that point onward, becoming an attorney was my goal. Specializing in insurance recovery was never something I imagined doing, but it has become something I really enjoy. I love learning about new things and being an insurance recovery attorney has allowed me to learn so much about our clients’ businesses.
What is your proudest professional moment?
I don’t have any specific instances that I can describe as my “proudest professional moment,” but there are two things that always bring me great pride. First, anytime Pasich LLP obtains positive results for our clients. We are in the business of customer service, so it’s a great feeling when you can make your customer happy. Secondly, I take great pride when my peers, especially junior attorneys, come to me for advice. To me, that signifies they trust me and value my input. I do not take that trust lightly and I hope to continue to be someone junior attorneys can look to for guidance.
What is the best advice you’ve received?
In my professional life, there are two pieces of advice that have always stuck with me. The first comes from my mentor, friend and colleague Peter Halprin who has always advised me to “follow my passions.” Although it seems like very cliché advice, he has always encouraged me to be honest with myself about what it is that drives me and to use that to propel my career forward in a direction I am comfortable with. I keep that at the forefront of my mind when making any career decisions.
The second piece of advice came from a former classmate, who reminded me that “no one will thank you for not taking a vacation.” In my first year-and-a-half of work after law school I never took a day off, and my peer reminded me of how important and valuable time off is to being an excellent attorney.
What’s one aspect of your practice that many people are not aware of?
That it exists! Before working as an insurance recovery attorney, I never appreciated how insurance is a thread that is woven into all aspects of our lives. We normally are aware of health insurance, automobile insurance and homeowners’ insurance, but there are so many risks that are underwritten for various kinds of industries and losses. Insurance is required to keep up with our constantly evolving society, which is why I find it to be an exciting area of law. Anytime I turn on the news I can’t help but think “I bet there is insurance for that,” and there usually is.
If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you do and why?
In my wildest dreams, I would be an actor, as it seems very fun and freeing to able to play different characters with different backgrounds and stories. In my more practical dreams, I would likely have gone into crisis management. “Scandal” is one of my favorite television shows and it was what introduced me to the field of crisis management. I think the common thread between those dream jobs and what I do now is that they all require some degree of learning something new and applying that knowledge to obtain a favorable result. No matter the reality, I remain a customer service junkie.