Managing Partner, Corporate and Securities Services Group

Business owners and investors hire Stephen Furnari because his success story parallels their own – creating something from nothing. Beyond a keen understanding of startup legal issues, through his many business dealings he has experienced the bumpy road of business ownership; the sleepless nights of uncertain cash flow; partner relations strained by diverging viewpoints; and vendors, consultants or rainmakers who attempt to prey on cash-poor startups. Far more valuable than any document a lawyer can produce, his role as advisor, mentor and sounding-board is the reason why his clients have helped him shape a thriving referral-based practice that caters to entrepreneurs and visionaries.

The Big Leap
In October 2002, Steve Furnari took one of the biggest risks of his life. Armed with the cash from his 401K, a modest personal savings and five credit cards, he left the security of a weekly paycheck and entered the uncertain world of self-employment…for good.

“Since my early teens I’ve started a number of businesses,” recounts Steve. “Some were very successful - others crashed-and-burned. However, before October 2002, I had never made a full commitment to being completely self-employed.”

During the previous three years, he had been laying the foundation from which he could launch his dream practice: a law firm where entrepreneurs, high-growth companies and the investors who fund them can find sophisticated legal representation performed by lawyers who are also entrepreneurs.

“I formed a professional corporation, started building a book of portable business and began systematically expanding my professional network,” says Steve. “My plan was to ‘officially’ take the leap into self-employment once I had enough clients to support my current standard of living. However, ‘life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans,’ as John Lennon once said.”

The Best Laid Plans…
Indeed, the six months prior to July 2002 had not gone according to plan. In the post 9-11 fallout, Steve found himself in back-to-back lay-offs from two lucrative corporate attorney positions, both at prestigious New York City law firms. With little opportunity for temp work and no shot of finding a full-time attorney position at a respectable firm, he decided to seize the opportunity and fulfill his dream.

“At the time,” he says, remembering the conflicting emotions, “I felt overwhelming relief that I had finally made this decision and, at the same time, I was completely scared to death.”

He had reason for concern. Timing was not ideal to start such a practice. By the end of 2001, the longest period of economic expansion in U.S. history had just ended. The dot-com bubble burst, corporate deals dried up, and all law firms, regardless of size, were now competing for small projects they wouldn’t have even looked at during the previous five years. To make matters worse, his small stable of clients had all either gone out of business or were unable (or unwilling) to pay their bills.

Nevertheless, determined to make his practice a success, Steve vowed to never again depend on an employer for his livelihood or professional development.
“The first few years were hard,” says Steve matter-of-factly. “I got lucky during the first few months of my practice and landed a complicated merger transaction involving a public company and foreign holding institution.”

When the deal closed, he was completely elated to learn that he had just earned more money in six weeks than he had in the whole year at his first job as a lawyer. “Unfortunately, I generated little business after that deal. I lived off those proceeds for nearly 10 months. So much for getting rich quick!”

“Worst-Case Scenario”
When it came time to pay bills at the end of every month, he played what client Ellen Varner calls “The Worse Case Scenario Game”. Ellen is the owner of a Web-based business who, incidentally, was his only “new media” client who survived the dot-com bust.

Steve explains, “The game is played like this: Worst Case Scenario, if too much time goes by without generating any business and all your cash and credit runs out, what would you do? In my version of the game I planned to first sell my car to survive for another month. Second, I planned to live out the security deposit in my apartment to survive for a second month. Third, and the ultimate Worse Case Scenario, I planned to give up my apartment and move in with Mom in my childhood home on Long Island.”

Thanks to a combination of aggressive marketing and a drastic cut in his personal expenses, he didn’t have to find out if Mom still enjoyed his company, and survived that first year in business. In fact, his methods paid off quite well, doubling the firms revenues in the first year. And then the next. And the next.
“By then I was earning more money as an entrepreneur than I would have made had I remained an employee of a big, New York City law firm,” he says, with a satisfied smile. “By my fourth year in business, I had a roster of over 50 new corporate clients and the revenues from my business supported four employees and me. Despite the entrepreneurial ups and downs, I would never work for someone else again.”

Not Your Typical Lawyer
“I realize this is not a typical lawyer ‘bio’,” says Steve. “Sure, like most every other lawyer in this country, I graduated from college and law school, I passed the bar in two states and I am admitted to practice law in a number of jurisdictions.”
“What I want people to know is that when my clients hire me, they have selected a person who understands their needs. Clients hire me because I am like them. My professional life is like theirs. Many of my clients’ success stories parallel mine. We all made something happen out of nothing. When I counsel clients on legal matters, I understand not only the legal issues that affect them, but the business parameters within which they operate.

“I know all about the sleepless nights of the entrepreneur. When rent and payroll is due, when debt is spiraling out of control, and when you’re not sure where you next piece of business is coming from. I’ve been there.

“I know what it feels like when the relationship with your business partner breaks down and you can no longer stand to be in the same room with each other. I’ve been there.

“I know what it’s like when your back is against the wall and you have to think “outside the box” to create business out of thin air. I’ve been there.

“I know what it feels like to make bad decisions about a vendor, a consultant or a money finder who preys on the fears and insecurities of an entrepreneur who is in desperate need of funds. I’ve been there.

“I also know about the joy and elation when times are good, when you meet your goals, when you land that big client, close that big deal, and the satisfaction that you get when you put your pride, ego and cash on the line, and you make things happen. I’ve been there.

“I am an entrepreneur and an investor in high growth businesses. I am also a lawyer. I help other entrepreneurs, senior management of high growth companies and investors structure corporate and securities transactions. More importantly, I am a legal advisor, mentor and friend to my clients and I strive to be instrumental in helping them accomplish their goals.”

If you would like learn more about how working together with Steve can advance your goals, contact him at


  • New York Law School,
    New York, New York, J.D., 1998
  • State University of New York at Geneseo,
    Jones School of Business,
    Geneseo, New York, B.S., 1993


  • New York 1999
  • Massachusetts 1998
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York

Place of Birth

  • Plainview, New York

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