Desta Collier Klein ’99

Reporting from New York City with Jonathan T. Trexler JD ’03

Interview and story by Christina Mortati JD ’95

Admitted to the bar in Minnesota, New York and New Jersey, Jon Trexler JD’03 has practiced law in New York City since 2009. A Minnesota native, Jon moved to Manhattan after four years representing clients in commercial and real estate matters with a Brainerd, MN law firm. Jon said when he first arrived, he set about building his law practice “brick by brick” to show his commitment to the local New York City market.

Jon practices near Wall Street with the Law Offices of Wong, Wong & Associates, P.C. concentrating in the areas of commercial litigation, employment law matters and tax controversies for individual and corporate clients. He believes that his LL.M. in Taxation (NYU) has served him well. “The market for tax controversies never ceases as the tax code gets bigger and bigger.” 

Jon said that while there have been changes in the legal profession affecting the job market for attorneys over the course of his career, “the demand has risen for attorneys who have enough experience to practice without help.” As firms invest less in new associate training compared to years past, Jon maintains there is a “premium on people who are ‘practice ready.’”

Though the “vast majority” of his cases settle, in 2010, Jon generated substantial publicity by representing a postal worker in a retaliation case under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that resulted in a winning jury verdict. In addition to helping his client, the case put his “name on the map for business development” setting the scene for Jon to generate his own work.

Jon reports that federal civil practice has been greatly impacted by a shift toward resolving cases before trial. To illustrate this point, Jon points to two U.S. Supreme Court decisions in recent years, Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), which heightened federal pleading standards. Courts have also shifted away from their historic reliance on the use of oral testimony to establish facts, to the use of electronic records and other documentary evidence. Jon said this trend has had enormous significance for both plaintiff and defense counsel as judges are now more willing to rely on the presence or absence of records to decide whether a claim or defense satisfies its burden of proof. Jon said that document discovery now consumes a large share of the litigation process; and juries have lost a lot of their influence as most cases are decided through dispositive motion practice.

As a law alum, Jon hosted a Hamline Law student extern in his office last summer. He described the extern experience as “win-win”; he received research assistance while the student extern was exposed to both the practices and procedures of his cases. Hosting a student extern had the unanticipated effect of putting Jon in contact with other NYC Hamline Law alums. He was invited to a lunch meeting in a midtown Manhattan restaurant with the extern, this author, and Neda Shahghasemi JD ’09 (www.icr.org) where they shared conversation over brick oven pizza. He also had an ‘e-introduction’ with Elizabeth Adinolfi JD ’99 (www.phillipsnizer.com) when they came together to coordinate a day for Jon’s extern to observe a bench trial of one of Liz’s cases before the New York Supreme Court.

Jon resides in the East Village of Manhattan. A world-class traveler, Jon’s passport bears witness to his travels to over 50 countries starting in his childhood. Recent adventures include driving from Minnesota to the Panama Canal and back as well as a vacation exploring the rich history and vibrant cultural life of Mexico City.

Jon can be reached at jonathantrexler@yahoo.com.

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