September 1, 2011: Andrew Finkelstein Reflects on How the Firm Helped Victims of 9/11 —The morning of the attacks, Finkelstein had a meeting scheduled for 9:30 at his firm’s Manhattan office. “My office was actually right across the street, 222 Broadway,” he says. “It overlooks the World Trade Center. I heard an announcement on the radio that there was a significant event, and it wasn’t really clear other than a plane went into the building.” Instead of going to the meeting, Finkelstein went to one of his other offices and watched the reports on television. “I spoke with the people in my Manhattan office who were on the 18th floor, literally watching the plane go into the second building. … It was just a devastating day,” he says.
Finkelstein went to work immediately, helping with the initial structuring of TLC. “We designated captains in each region, of which I was one,” he says. “And each captain would go to the attorneys who volunteered their services and call them and ask them if they could handle this particular matter.”
Finkelstein also took on cases for the organization, representing the families of two men who lost their lives. “One was a New Jersey gentleman, a 35-year-old married man with no children,” Finkelstein says. “He was an IT consultant, up on the 96th floor of World Trade Center 1. The plane struck 10 floors below where he was, and his body was never recovered.” Finkelstein recovered almost $3.7 million for the man’s widow and parents, and, like other TLC attorneys, received no fees for recovering the award.
Finkelstein’s other client was the family of a union laborer from Ireland. “He was married, also 35, and left a pregnant wife and two young boys behind,” Finkelstein says. “After this tragedy, his wife went back to Ireland with their two children and gave birth to the third boy.” Finkelstein obtained $2.2 million for the family. He receives cards from them every year.
“America is a great country that gives their people—and recognizes—so many individual rights that most other countries don’t allow their citizenry to have,” Finkelstein says. “I was always cognizant of the fact that if this happened in other countries, the government would not step up and provide compensation to family members as our government did. Being the vehicle for these gentlemen’s voices was very much a matter of great pride.”