Our Team

For more than twenty years, Tricia Kakalec has represented employees, and the interests of employees, as a lawyer in both the private and public sectors. From representing migrant farmworkers to litigating labor cases on behalf of the State of New York, Tricia has dedicated her career to fighting for the rights of employees.   Her practice is currently focused on representing employees in wage and hour and discrimination cases, and on advising employees about employment contracts, severance agreements, and other legal issues.

Before entering private practice, Tricia served as the Bureau Chief, Deputy Bureau Chief, and Special Counsel of the Labor Bureau of the New York State Attorney General’s Office, and as Chair of that office’s statewide Equal Employment Opportunity Committee. Tricia has also been the co-founder and Executive Director of the Workers’ Rights Law Center of New York, and an attorney with Farmworker Legal Services of New York, in both offices representing farmworkers and other low-wage workers around New York State. Tricia began her legal career as an associate with LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae in New York City.

Tricia received her law degree from Harvard Law School, cum laude, and clerked for the Hon. Denis R. Hurley in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York. She has been a Wasserstein Fellow at Harvard Law School (2010-11) (awarded to “outstanding public interest lawyers”) and an Echoing Green fellow (2006-08).  Tricia speaks Spanish and often represents Spanish-speaking clients.

Tricia regularly speaks and conducts trainings on employment law topics. Her most recent publication is an article about joint employment in the volume “Who is an Employee and Who is the Employer?: Proceedings of the New York University 68th Annual Conference on Labor” (Series editor: Samuel Estreicher; Volume editor: Kati L. Griffith) (with Annie Smith).   She is a member of the National Employment Law Association – New York (legislative committee) and the Legal Network for Gender Equality.

Debbie Lanin has over twenty years of litigation experience, including thirteen years clerking in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, serving as a law clerk for four different judges.  As a law clerk for both a U.S. District Judge and several U.S. Magistrate Judges, Debbie has developed a broad understanding of the entire litigation process and has drafted hundreds of decisions on a variety of federal and state issues, including wage and hour matters, discrimination cases, class actions, ERISA, breach of contract, and fraud.   She has also worked as Senior Legal Consultant at an eDiscovery firm in New York, where she consulted on all aspects of litigation readiness planning, including collection, processing, review, and production protocols for electronically-stored information.

Prior to clerking, Debbie was an associate at two large law firms in New York City.  She also taught several classes at Touro Law School, including Legal Research and Writing and a Federal Judicial Externship course, and has presented at numerous law firms and Bar Associations on Long Island on topics including motion practice and discovery.

Debbie received her law degree from St. John’s University School of Law, magna cum laude, where she was Executive Notes & Comments Editor of the St. John’s Law Review. She received her B.S. from the State University of New York, University at Albany, magna cum laude.

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DEBBIE LANIN
Of Counsel
Debbie@KakalecLaw.com

Karen has over two decades of legal experience working with employees, workers, and immigrants. Karen served for over nine years as an Assistant Attorney General at the Labor Bureau at the State Attorney General and led investigations into labor violations in numerous industries, including agricultural, greengrocer, moving, restaurant, and taxi industries. She was a recipient of a Skadden Fellowship at the National Employment Law Project and a Robert M. Cover Teaching Fellowship at Yale Law School and held an assistant professorship at Syracuse University College of Law. Karen also has worked in not-for-profit policy and advocacy organizations in management and leadership positions.

Karen is active in bar associations and community organizations. As a co-chair of the Pro Bono and Community Service Committee of the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY), she coordinates the Monthly Pro Bono Advice and Referral Clinic, which has served thousands of clients since December 2015, and oversees AABANY’s ever-expanding pro bono activities. She frequently conducts training and speaks on employment matters, Asian America, cross-cultural competencies, and immigrants’ rights.

Karen received her law degree from Northeastern University School of Law and graduated from Stony Brook University and Brooklyn Technical High School. She is admitted in New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. She emigrated from Hong Kong and speaks fluent Cantonese Chinese.

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KAREN KITHAN YAU
Of Counsel
Karen@KakalecLaw.com

Jennifer Peterson brings her background in community services and her strong organizational skills to support the cases of Kakalec Law. She has worked in community housing in Brooklyn, and provided program support to a not-for-profit organization providing scholarships to medical students of color.  Jennifer is a graduate of St. Joseph’s University and holds a degree in marketing.

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JENNIFER PETERSON
Paralegal
Jennifer@KakalecLaw.com