Exploring the Impact of Four Local Lawyers
MANY EXCEPTIONAL LAWYERS have emerged in the legal landscape of New Orleans and the surrounding area specializing in specific areas of expertise. In this “Elite Lawyers” issue, Inside New Orleans features the profiles of four notably talented local attorneys: Jason Waguespack, Charles “Chuck” Cusimano, III, Lacy Smith, and Sean Mount.
Charles “Chuck” Cusimano, III
During his senior year at Texas A&M, Chuck found himself at a crossroads because, unlike his friends, he had zero interest in working for Enron and wasn’t ready to tackle the real world. Thus, he enrolled in LSU Paul M. Hebert School of Law to prolong the real world a little longer.
As it happened, practicing law was perfect for Chuck.
“My passion for my law profession can be summed up by my professor’s parting words on my last day of law school. He reminded us that with our law degree, we possess the knowledge and ability to do good by helping people with their legal challenges.” These words resonate most deeply with Chuck when a client reaches out to him seeking assistance.
After completing his law degree in 2003, Chuck dedicated four formative years of his career to the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s office, where he gained invaluable experience and honed his legal skills. The insights and expertise he acquired during this period served as the foundation for the establishment of Cusimano Law Firm in 2007.
Cusimano Law Firm is a civil litigation practice that takes immense pride in providing clients with compassionate and dedicated legal assistance. Their primary focus lies in offering support and guidance to individuals facing personal injury cases, contract disputes, and successions, recognizing the significant impact these matters can have on their lives. Chuck adds, “Navigating the legal system can be overwhelming and emotional for many. I enjoy providing my clients some peace of mind when they trust me to handle their legal issues.” Chuck’s driving force stems from a blend of compassion for his clients and a true appreciation for the competitive nature of the legal profession. This combination fuels his motivation to pursue the best outcome for his clients.
In the face of diverse and challenging civil litigation cases, Chuck and his colleagues remain steadfast in their commitment to their clients. Their shared sense of purpose, coupled with the genuine bonds they have formed, fuels their collective resolve to navigate the intricacies of the legal system to bring about positive outcomes for those they serve.
The only genuine stress in his life, says Chuck, “is in trying to properly raise my three children.” By his side, however, is his wife Gabrielle, who, as Chuck puts it, “does the lion’s share of that.” Ever the devoted family man, Chuck recently coached his daughter’s 5-6-year-olds softball team. That day, everyone walked away with a trophy!
In the hands of devoted and compassionate attorney Charles “Chuck” Cusimano, III, clients can find a sense of relief, knowing they have an unwavering advocate who will stand by their side, fight for their rights, and ensure their voices are heard.
Charles “Chuck” Cusimano, III, Cusimano Law Firm, PLC, 3015 19th St., Metairie 504-525-1213 cusimanolaw.com.
Sean Mount’s interest in becoming an attorney stemmed from the realization that the law’s extensive influence was evident in nearly every aspect of life; he was fascinated with this notion. However, what truly captivated him was the chance to thoroughly explore and address a specific issue or matter and ultimately find a successful resolution. As a litigator who primarily handles insurance defense and analysis, that zeal to find a positive solution for his client empowers him to effectively represent clients in insurance-related cases. For twenty-two years, his motivation to ensure that the interests of his clients are protected and their rights upheld has been the driving force in Sean’s career.
Sean finds the most rewarding aspect of practicing law is watching and sustaining a case as it evolves from issue to trial to verdict. Further, he adds, “ I am a very competitive person, which is always a component within the context of litigation.” Sean has been recognized as one of the Best Lawyers in America since 2019 thanks to his strong litigation competitiveness and determination to achieve the best outcome for his clients. He has also received the prestigious AV Preeminent Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Rating.
As a lawyer, Sean genuinely appreciates being involved in the continuous development of the law. He explains, “In other words, whenever we can have an effect on how a statute or code article is interpreted for the betterment of future cases is always something I relish.”
On a personal note, a Jesuit and LSU graduate, Sean attended law school at the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at LSU. When he needs to escape the stresses of litigation, he recharges by spending time with his wife and two sons. Time with his family allows him to gain a new outlook on his work as he prepares for the legal challenges ahead.
Sean Mount’s unwavering commitment to the legal profession and deep respect for the intricacies of the legal world make him an invaluable asset to those he represents. His passion for justice, extensive knowledge, and genuine efforts in advocating for his clients exemplify the highest standards of professionalism and integrity.
Sean P. Mount, Deutsch Kerrigan LLP, 755 Magazine Street, New Orleans (504)581-5141 deutschkerrigan.com.
Family law and divorce attorney Lacy Smith was drawn to the profession due to her interest in problem-solving and dispute resolution. Lacy emphasizes, “I’m not interested in having the catfight. Instead, I enjoy brainstorming how to address the situation and helping clients navigate their transition from one season of life to the next.” She is passionate about conflict resolution as the way to assist her clients, despite her parents’ belief that she became an attorney because, growing up, she always loved to argue.
Lacy’s practice is dedicated exclusively to divorce and family law. Although she mainly uses mediation, collaborative divorce, and similar settlement methods, she notes, “I also have a passion for litigating complex property division issues in the context of community property partition.” Lacy understands the importance of giving each client a safe and compassionate environment to seek legal assistance. As such, she ardently provides legal services to the LGBTQIA+ community. Her door is open for all legal assistance, whether intrafamily adoption, a name change, or legal counseling for divorce, no matter who they are. Her blend of litigation skills and exceptional expertise in mediation makes her a formidable force in resolving disputes efficiently and effectively for her clients.
Choosing to practice divorce and family law was a natural choice for Lacy, as it allows her to form connections with her clients, which is important to her. Getting to know her clients and their families on a personal level is an aspect of her profession that she sees as a privilege and finds extremely rewarding. Equally rewarding is the opportunity to help her clients determine their wants and needs and ultimately find creative solutions. Resolving the life-changing conflicts of her clients is something that Lacy has tackled for more than thirteen years with genuine compassion.
Being a lawyer, says Lacy, “Lets me flex a variety of muscles and that no day is like another.” Being the sole practitioner in her firm, she is not only the lawyer but also runs the business, including the accounting, networking, and web design when the need arises. For some people, it may seem like a burden, but for Lacy, she adds, “I enjoy wearing those different hats.”
Maintaining balance in her life is key for Lacy and how she manages her career’s pressures and stress. Her balance includes spending time with her family, working out a few times a week, and getting the right amount of sleep. “And,” she emphasizes, “if all else fails, I manage stress by playing roller derby with New Orleans’ own roller derby team, Big Easy Roller Derby.”
Lacy’s talent for problem-solving and multifaceted abilities, including her compassion for everyone, ability to wear many hats, and roller derby status, make her a true modern-day Renaissance woman.
Lacy M. Smith, The Law Office of Lacy M. Smith, LLC, 3914 Canal St., New Orleans 504249-8242 lacysmithlaw.com.
Jason Waguespack’s journey into law was inspired by his mother’s profound influence during high school. As a teenager, he watched his mother pursue her law degree. Observing her passion and fulfillment in the face of challenging coursework, Jason felt a growing desire to study law himself. Thus, he enrolled in Tulane University School of Law after receiving his undergraduate degree.
Taking advantage of Tulane being the preeminent US law school in maritime and admiralty law, Jason enrolled in maritime law classes, and as his interest grew, he became more invested in that area of law and eager to immerse himself in its complexities. After law school, he was hired by a firm that gave him the opportunity to practice maritime law, the specialty he has practiced for thirty-two years.
Practicing within his realm of expertise, Jason enjoys the global dimension of maritime law, particularly the chance to travel internationally and engage with people from diverse cultures while catering to clients. Additionally, he appreciates the high standard of professionalism among the legal practitioners in the New Orleans maritime bar, an organization renowned nationally for its expertise and contributions to the field. Over the past three decades, Jason has honed his maritime and admiralty law expertise and adds, “I love it and wouldn’t want to practice in any other area.”
Jason’s commitment to the legal field extends beyond his personal career endeavors. He is an adjunct faculty member at the Tulane University A.B. Freeman School of Business and the Tulane University School of Law. In this role, he recognizes the significance of providing comprehensive support and strongly advocates preparing students with the necessary education, mentorship, and training to succeed in their chosen fields. Knowing the power of guidance, he tries to mentor multiple students each year, going above and beyond by offering them opportunities to work at his firm. By showing them the practicalities of the legal profession, he provides invaluable experience and offers insightful guidance to help shape their future careers.
Jason considers himself fortunate to work with exceptional colleagues and friends. He counts on them to help with work-related stress. Their perspectives, advice, and creative ideas consistently prove invaluable in navigating issues. These often stressful issues can sometimes take a funny turn, leading to shared laughter which Jason contends “always makes you feel better.” Also providing him the opportunity to take a break from the legal world, Jason sits on various local boards, such as The Ogden Museum of Southern Art. He enjoys this change of pace and is honored to serve on the board of these organizations.
Finally, Jason takes pride in the honors he has received over the years. Among those honors, he was given The Project Lazarus Angel Award, the Human Rights Campaign Equality Award, and the Forum on Equality Chair’s Award. He also received the Paul Plauche Award from Halloween New Orleans. He is most proud, however, to have served as the New Orleans Bar Association President from 2018-2019.
With his passion for maritime law, years of experience, and dedication to mentoring future legal professionals, Jason Wagespack is a testament to the power of inspiration, commitment, and the pursuit of excellence in his field.
For Inside New Orleans’ Readers’ Favorite Elite Lawyers, we asked you for your top picks in several categories from Admiralty & Maritime to Workers Compensation. Congratulations to the winners below! Be on the lookout for more Readers’ Favorites online at insideneworleansmagazine.com