Marc Wenger is one of Long Island's top attorneys representing employers and senior management in employment-related matters, heading a key team in the Melville, N.Y., office of the respected firm Jackson Lewis LLP. Wenger leads the firm's litigation practice on Long Island, where Jackson Lewis, with 47 offices nationally, has a diverse range of clients, from Fortune 100 corporations to small service businesses. Energetic and intensely competitive, yet by all accounts pragmatic and a team player, the 51-year-old Wenger has helped define a culture that's spurred Jackson Lewis's explosive growth over the last decade. A native of Sea Cliff on Long Island's North Shore, Wenger was captain of his North Shore High School baseball and basketball teams before heading on to Columbia University. He played JV basketball there until a serious ankle injury cut short his career (remarkably, he still plays competitively today; his ankle "hurts all the time, but I still enjoy the game and the people I play with.") He says he was drawn to the law because of lifelong interest in politics, and a natural curiosity to "understand how the world works - and how it works is often grounded in the legal system." He adds, "I was cut out to be a lawyer - I'm analytical by nature." He went straight to law school, where he excelled; "I was gravitating to litigation even then. The fact is, litigation was always what I believed being a lawyer was all about." As such he eschewed transactional work, and when he joined the Manhattan office of Vedder Price, decided to focus on employment litigation. "The subject matter was always fascinating, personal and diverse. I loved the work from day one and wanted to make a career of it." An early mentor, Alan M. Koral, head of the firm's New York office, groomed Wenger with a strong emphasis on legal writing, an essential skill in any successful legal career.
In the mid-90s, Wenger, with a young family and living and working in Manhattan, sat down with Jackson Lewis partners Paul Siegel and Mark Sussman, as well as the late Matthew Halpern. The trio headed Jackson Lewis's fast-growing Long Island office. It was "as if we'd been best friends for years," Wenger recalls. That group trust and confidence translated into a powerhouse practice, as the partners (Halpern passed away suddenly in 2009) built a Long Island client base, whose needs ranged from defense of major class-action claims to discrimination claims and other employment issues. Over the last decade Wenger's Long Island office has mirrored much of Jackson Lewis's tremendous growth (His office had about 12 lawyers when he joined it; today it's 30 and adding more). That stems in part from the firm's effective defense of class-action litigation against such industries as mortgage and finance, consumer-product sales, and defense contractors. In some cases Jackson Lewis's defense of class-action wage-and-hour claims saved -- and even improved -- the viability of those businesses.
Today Wenger, beyond his role as head of litigation, maintains close contact with Long Island's employer community through frequent speaking engagements for trade organizations and bar associations, among others. Well before any trial, Wenger is advising employers on positive workplace policies and preventive strategies. Finding positive solutions for our clients is "more than a motto - it's how we've built our firm." Wenger and his family today live in Sea Cliff, a few blocks from where he grew up. Away from the office, he enjoys coaching youth sports and, whenever possible, playing basketball at the local gym.