With an intellectual curiosity and personal rectitude undiminished by three decades as a courtroom attorney, 59-year-old Philip Catapano represents the very best of the New York trial bar. Competitive and generous, insightful and enlightened, by all accounts Catapano is respected and trusted by colleagues, rivals and judges alike. His early life experiences and indeed, his entry into the law, make for a unique and compelling tale. Growing up in Glen Head, he played football and ran track at North Shore High School and went on to study economics at Union College in upstate New York. Then, at the height of the Vietnam War, Catapano joined the Peace Corps and went to Malawi to teach for two years. Remarkably, Catapano's Peace Corps director, Monroe McKay, an Arizonian who later became the Chief Judge of the US Court of Appeals, urged Catapano to consider a career in law. It was McKay who administered his volunteer's LSAT exam in the middle of a rural, isolated village in East Africa. Five years ago, Catapano and his family returned to that village in Malawi and found that students were still using the textbooks sent over by North Shore High School thirty-five years earlier. A week after returning home in early 1969, Catapano enrolled at St. John's Law School. There, he earned four American Jurisprudence awards in Constitutional law, legal writing, legal research and arbitration, and was invited to join law review. After graduation, he went to Arizona and clerked for the renowned Supreme Court Justice Jesse Udall; a year later, he returned to his native Long Island and joined Montfort, Healy, McGuire & Salley, at a time when the country was on the cusp of the malpractice litigation explosion. From the time he was named partner in the late 1970's, Catapano has served as chief defense counsel to Mercy Medical Center and North Shore University Hospital in Glen Cove. As his reputation grew, he was retained by other health-care institutions, including Winthrop University Hospital, Southside Hospital, and St. Catherine of Siena Hospital. Over the course of his career, he has handled more than two hundred malpractice cases. Though he jousts regularly in a league of extremely talented attorneys, Catapano downplays his success - "I'm a straight shooter, and most who deal with me know that. I've tried to develop a high level of trust in all my dealings so that clients, judges and opposing attorneys can count on my word." His clients place faith in him as well. They trust him to find fair and equitable solutions to complex problems. Today, Catapano is one of seven partners and twenty-three attorneys at Montfort, Healy, McGuire & Salley with about half the practice devoted to malpractice defense. (In a rare non-medical case, he represented Amy Fisher in a 1997 civil suit by Mary Jo Buttafuco). Catapano and his wife, Kathleen, also a former Peace Corps volunteer and current chair of the North Shore Fresh Air Fund, live in Sea Cliff. They have three grown children: a daughter who is a physician doing medical research and is married to a lawyer, a son who is in research and development at MTV and another daughter, a geologist, who has recently started medical school. Catapano still loves to travel the globe. He and his family recently shared a once in a lifetime visit to an indigenous community in the Amazon River Basin. Says he, "Golf is not my thing."