Q & A / The world catches up to Lindy Korn
Legal pioneer has been helping victims of harassment for forty years
Lindy Korn, lawyer and mediator
Photo by kc kratt
Current title: lawyer and mediator
Years in the business: 40
In this #MeToo era, you might say Lindy Korn’s time has come, but Buffalo’s pioneering advocate for victims of sexual harassment—actually, all forms of workplace discrimination—has been around long enough to know change is incremental, and there’s still a long way to go. At sixty-five, Korn is in her fortieth year as a lawyer and mediator. She went to Boston University to study history, and then on to law school at Ohio Northern University. She first worked as a law clerk to a State Supreme Court judge, then as counsel to the State Liquor Authority, then as Commissioner of Workers’ Compensation for the state. It was here, almost inadvertently, that she found her true calling, when she realized that workplace issues, where people were sick or getting injured, were linked to stress: “What they were really describing was a hostile work environment.”
In 1999, Korn started the business she still runs today, Diversity Training Workplace Solutions, Inc. In the early 2000s, she opened her own firm, which is now located in the Electric Tower, where she heads an office of ten, including seven lawyers. She’s busier than ever. “I have made the defense firms in Buffalo a lot of money,” referring to their increased workload representing employers in discrimination suits.
Are things looking up for the victimized?
I am hopeful, but I must tell you I don’t think there’s been a lot of change—I think there’s been a lot of talk. The culture in Buffalo is tough—there’ve been long periods of unemployment, and people really need their jobs. It takes a lot of courage to make a complaint. It’s really all about power, and the abuse of power, and how it makes people sick.
What’s been the hardest part of your job?
Surviving summary judgment in federal court—the gatekeeper to getting to trial. Otherwise you don’t get to the jury, and I want to be around to have success before more juries, and to have more robust settlements from mediation.
You work hard. Play hard too?
I like to ski. I love to laugh. I work at keeping my practice of law joyful. Every year, my daughters and I take a trip. We’ve been doing these long walks—the Dingle Way in Ireland, El Camino de Santiago de Compostela. We went from Portugal to Spain. Planning to walk the Cotswolds next.
Anything people would be surprised to learn about you?
I don’t ever intend to retire. The work I do gives me great purpose.
What would you be doing if not practicing law?
Oh, I would be in the hospitality industry. I think I know what people want, and I know how to have those discussions to find something meaningful to someone. Help with details. I think service like that is fading, but everybody likes it!
So no plans for retirement, but what do you see ahead for you?
This: I want to be agent of change so people aren’t so scared to speak up. I think we’ve only just begun, and there’s a lot of room to succeed. I feel really privileged to meet people who want me to help them. And I’d like to argue before the Supreme Court before I die.