LOUIS W. PIERRO, Founding Partner, Pierro, Connor & Strauss, LLC

Louis W. Pierro is the Founder and Principal of Pierro, Connor & Strauss, LLC, a law firm with offices in New York City, Albany, Long Island and additional locations, serving clients in the areas of Estate Planning, Estate and Trust Administration, Business Succession Planning, Elder Law and Special Needs Planning. Mr. Pierro is a frequent speaker across the country on legal issues relating to estate planning, elder law and business planning.

Mr. Pierro is also a Founder of ElderCounsel, a national membership organization of Elder Law and Special Needs law firms, where he now serves as a consultant. It provides proprietary document drafting software and education to over 1400-member firms in all 50 states. Most recently, he founded ApolloCare, LLC, a business that integrates home care coordination (EverHome Care Advisors), with connected home health technology (VivaLynx) providing seniors, families, and caregivers unique opportunities to live independently in their own home.

Mr. Pierro is selected by his peers for inclusion in the 2023 edition of  The Best Lawyers in America for Elder Law, and Trusts and Estates; his 15th year of recognition by Best Lawyers. He was also selected by his peers as Best Lawyers “2022 Lawyer of the Year” for Elder Law in New York’s Capital Region; an honor he also received in 2018 and 2014. He has been recognized by Best Lawyers for Elder Law and for Trusts and Estates and by Super Lawyers for 15 years, and has been selected to the Best Lawyers in America, The Best Lawyers in New York, Super Lawyers of the Hudson Valley, Top 25 Lawyers in Upstate New York, and New York Times Top Attorneys in New York. In addition, Mr. Pierro has maintained an AV preeminent rating from the Martindale-Hubbell since 2001.

Mr. Pierro is currently a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys; the American Bar Association, Probate and Trust Section; the NYS Bar Association Trusts and Estates and Elder Law Sections; and the Albany County Bar Association.

A graduate of Lehigh University and Albany Law School, Mr. Pierro was admitted to the New York State Bar in January of 1984, and is licensed to practice in all New York State Courts, the US Supreme Court and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

LEE SLAVUTIN MD, CLU, AEP (Distinguished), Stern Slavutin-2 Inc.

Lee Slavutin has been in the life insurance business since 1983. Born in Australia, Lee practiced as a surgical pathologist until he came to New York as the chief resident in pathology at Lenox Hill Hospital where he worked as a staff pathologist until changing his career. Lee’s unique medical qualifications are an important part of his specialty, which is serving high net worth individuals seeking substantial life insurance policies. Lee is a well-known public speaker and educator for the legal and accounting professions including the American Law Institute/American Bar Association and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.  He has written and published over 150 articles on the complex legal and technical aspects of securing life insurance for estate tax planning. His text book published by Thomson Reuters, A Guide to Life Insurance Strategies, is in its 11th edition. Lee has served as a director of the Association of Advanced Life Underwriters and the Estate Planning Council of New York. He is on the editorial advisory board of Tax Hotline and is a member of the CCH Estate and Financial Planning advisory board. Lee testified before the New York State Senate in 1990 and worked with the United States General Accounting Office on the effectiveness of the insurance company rating firms.

“Our greatest source of pride in business is supporting our clients to make decisions after they understand all the facts. The client’s best interest comes first; there is never a question about that for us. We pride ourselves in providing technical expertise for those who sometimes need to make irrevocable estate planning decisions.”

Lee lives in New York and East Hampton with his wife Dee. They have two grown children. He enjoys learning the Torah and Tanya (the spiritual roadmap of life based on Jewish mysticism).


Mitchell Sorkin is a Tax Partner with over 45 years of expertise in wealth and business management, as well as personal financial, corporate, individual, trust, estate, partnership, investment, and international planning. His clients include high net worth individuals, import and export businesses, personal service firms, distributors, and manufacturers.

Prior to joining the firm, Mitchell was a Tax Partner at Raich Ende Malter & Co. LLP (REM), a leading full-service accounting and auditing firm providing a wide variety of accounting, tax, and business advisory services to organizations of all sizes, emerging businesses, and high net worth individuals.

As an active member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), Mitchell holds a Certificate in Educational Achievement in Business Evaluations, as well as the AICPA Personal Financial Specialist designation. He is the former Chair of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA) International Taxation Committee.

Mitchell is a frequent writer and lecturer on domestic and international taxation, business management, and wealth management topics.

LISA SIEGEL, Sr. Managing Director, First Republic Private Wealth Management

Ms. Siegel joined First Republic in 2017. Ms. Siegel works with individuals and families (both US and foreign), engaging them in a comprehensive planning process to understand the goals and aspirations they have for their wealth and to provide them with unbiased, personalized strategies to meet their objectives. Her areas of focus include estate and multi-generational planning, business continuity and succession planning and risk management.

As a former practicing estate planning attorney, CPA and PFS, Ms. Siegel brings more than 25 years of experience in wealth protection and wealth transfer planning to her role. Prior to joining First Republic in 2017, she was a Senior Vice President and Wealth Planner at HSBC Private Bank. Prior to that, Ms. Siegel was a Senior Vice President and Senior Wealth Planner at Wells Fargo Private Bank. Ms. Siegel practiced law as a trusts and estates attorney for approximately 10 years and practiced as a CPA for approximately 10 years as well. Additionally, Ms. Siegel has significant experience in planning for divorce and international estate planning.

Ms. Siegel earned her Juris Doctor from Nova Southeastern University, her Masters of Laws (in taxation) from New York University and her Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Florida. Ms. Siegel is a member of the Estate and Gift Taxation Committee of the NYC Bar Association, the Estate Planning Council of New York City and STEP. Ms. Siegel is admitted to the Florida and New York Bars and is a member of their bar associations and the New York Society of Certified Public Accountants. She also holds the prestigious credential of a Personal Financial Specialist (PFS™) from the AICPA.

BONNIE LEIBOWITZ, Managing Director, First Republic Private Wealth Management

Ms. Leibowitz joined First Republic in 2019. Ms. Leibowitz works with individuals, families and business owners, engaging them in the comprehensive financial planning process. Her areas of focus include estate and multi-generational planning, business continuity and succession planning and divorce planning.

Ms. Leibowitz joined First Republic in 2019. Prior to joining First Republic, she was a Vice President and Senior Wealth Strategist at PNC Wealth Management. Prior to that, Ms. Leibowitz was a Manager and Wealth Planner at Deloitte and Wells Fargo Private Bank as a Wealth Planner. Earlier in her career, Ms. Leibowitz practiced law as a tax, trusts and estate attorney with the New Jersey based firm Brach Eichler and later in New York with the firm of McLaughlin and Stern.

Ms. Leibowitz is admitted to the New Jersey and New York Bars and holds the Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® designation from the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts.

Ms. Leibowitz holds the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation from the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc.

Ms. Leibowitz earned her Juris Doctor from Rutgers Law School-Newark, her Masters of Laws (in taxation) from New York University Law School, her Masters of Business Administration from Rutgers Business School with a concentration in Finance, and her Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and Philosophy from Boston College.

DANIEL J. COOPER, CFA, Senior Manager, Empire Valuation Consultants

Daniel has over 15 years of valuation experience including work for estates and clients undertaking estate planning. He has valued operating companies from $1 million to several billion in sales and also has a background in appraising holding companies with different types of equity units. Beyond that work he has analyzed intellectual property rights including multiple engagements involving royalties one of which was the valuation of a well known book franchise where sales exceeded 100 million copies.

In addition, he works with companies looking at the feasibility of an ESOP and how they can source bank debt. He takes pride in working closely with the key parties (management, credit officers, and attorneys) to ensure a successful transaction and typically helps clients to obtain financing packages in the $1 million to $25 million range.

Mr. Cooper is a frequent speaker at industry events and was published by the National Center for Employee Ownership (“NCEO”) in their Guide to DOL ESOP Investigations (2019).


  • B.A. – University of Oxford, Politics, Philosophy and Economics (Major in Economics)
  • CFA Charterholder


  • The ESOP Association
  • Member of the NCEO
CARYN B. KEPPLER, Partner, Pierro, Connor & Strauss, LLC

Caryn B. Keppler joined Pierro, Connor & Strauss as Partner in the New York City office in January 2021. She has extensive experience in all aspects of estate, gift and charitable planning for foreign and domestic individuals, artists and collectors, conventional and alternative families, as well as business succession and continuity planning.  Caryn’s areas of focus also include representing individuals regarding prenuptial, post-nuptial and domestic partnership agreements and assisting families in planning for their disabled children.  She has represented artists’ foundations, both fiduciaries and beneficiaries in the administration of domestic estates and trusts, as well as estates and trusts with contacts to international jurisdictions, and in litigation in the Surrogate’s Courts.  Prior to entering private practice, Caryn was an attorney with the Internal Revenue Service.

Ms. Keppler is selected for inclusion in the 2023 edition of  The Best Lawyers in America for Trusts and Estates; an honor she also received in 2022. Recognition in Best Lawyers is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor, conferred on a lawyer by his or her peers.

Ms. Keppler is certified as an Estate Planning Law Specialist* by the Estate Law Specialist Board, Inc., an organization accredited by the American Bar Association and affiliated with the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils. Caryn is one of a select number of Estate Planning Law Specialists practicing in New York and New Jersey.

Ms. Keppler is a Director of the Estate Law Specialist Board Inc. and a member of the American Bar Association’s Section of Real Property, Trusts and Estate Law, Income and Transfer Tax Planning Group, the New York State Bar Association Trusts and Estates Section, the New York State Bar Association Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Section and the New York State Bar Association’s LGBTQ Law Section. She is also a member of the New York City Bar Association’s Entertainment Law Committee, and its Art Law Committee, where she is Chair of Tax Subcommittee. Ms. Keppler is also a member of ArtTable, an association of professionals working in the arts. She is a member of the Estate Planning Council of New York City, a past president of the Rockland County Estate Planning Council and a former member of the Westchester County Estate Planning Council.

Ms. Keppler received her B.A. from Binghamton University in 1980 and her J.D. from Brooklyn Law School in 1984.  She is admitted to practice law before the Courts of the States of New York, New Jersey and Florida, as well as the Federal District Courts of New Jersey and the Middle District of Florida.

In her spare time, Caryn is an active lindy-hopper who is rediscovering the American Songbook on her piano.

The Estate Law Specialist Board, Inc. is not affiliated with any governmental authority. Certification is not a requirement for the practice of law in the State of New York or in the State of New Jersey and does not necessarily indicate greater competence than other attorneys experienced in this field of law.

PETER J. STRAUSS, Senior Partner, Pierro, Connor & Strauss, LLC

Peter Strauss has practiced trusts and estate law since 1961 and has special expertise in the legal problems of aging and persons with disabilities, end of life issues and the capacity of persons with disabilities to execute legal documents with respect to health care. He is a founding member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, a Fellow of the American Academy of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) and Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Law at the New York Law School, where he teaches Elder Law and is director of the guardianship clinic.

Mr. Strauss has been selected by his peers for inclusion in the 2023 edition of  The Best Lawyers in America for three practice areas: Elder Law, Litigation – Trusts and Estates, and Trusts and Estates; it is his 15th year of this recognition. He was the recipient of the New York State Bar Association “2019 Attorney Professionalism Award,” given to one attorney in the State each year. He has been honored from 2007 to 2019 as one of the New York Metropolitan area’s “Best Lawyers,” and “Super Lawyer” from 2007 to 2016.

Mr. Strauss is a prolific author and has written articles for various publications including the New York Law Journal and Bottom Line Personal and has addressed many national professional and consumer organizations. He is the author of the consumer book, “The Complete Retirement Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know to Safeguard Your Money, Your Health and Your Independence,” (Facts-on-File, Inc. 2003).

Mr. Strauss presently serves on the Executive Committee of the Elder Law & Special Needs Section of the New York State Bar Association, the Board of Directors of End of Life Choices New York and JALBCA (Judges & Lawyers Breast Cancer Alert) and the Steering Committee of the Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine.

FRANK MELIA, Division Manager, Contour Mortgage

Frank Melia has worked in the financial services industry since 1990, working as a financial advisor for the first 10 years of his career.

Over the past 17 years, he has built a successful track record as a loan officer, with a focus on both residential and commercial lending. In 2007, Frank received his Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist designation from the CMPS Institute in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Today, he offers guidance on a range of lending products, such as purchase and refinance loans, reverse mortgages, commercial financing, construction loans, and portfolio lending programs.

Viewed as an expert on the mortgage industry, Frank can be heard on “Ask the Lawyer with Mike Connors,” a weekly radio program broadcast on AM 970 The Answer and AM 570 WMCA in New York City.

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