Rising Star: Holland & Knight’s Sarah Passeri


Holland & Knight LLP’s Sarah Passeri ’08 was one of four transportation attorneys under age 40 to be selected by Law360 as a Rising Star for her work on a number of high profile aviation cases.

Why she’s a transportation attorney:

Passeri said she has been “enchanted” by the idea of aviation for as long as she can remember, and comes from a family with “deep roots” in the industry. Her father taught her how to fly a plane at the age of just 15, before she even knew how to drive a car, she said.

When she decided to pursue a career in the law, she knew that she wanted to do something involving aviation.

“It’s kind of limitless in terms of the issues that come up for lawyers,” she said of the aviation industry. “But also, the whole atmosphere around aviation is kind of exciting when you think that if you wanted to have dinner in Paris, all you need to do is go to JFK [International Airport] and you can be there.”

The field of aviation litigation is narrow, and even narrower for a woman in a male-dominated industry, but Passeri has carved out a space for herself, joining Holland & Knight just one year after graduating from law school.

The proudest moment of her career:

Passeri said she is most proud of a move she made before she was technically a lawyer. She had to fight for her place at Fordham University School of Law after her application was initially rejected, in what she called the “first oral argument I ever won.

“That’s my proudest moment as an attorney, really, because it’s my first piece of advocacy for myself, but it also set the foundation for me in how I view my career,” she said.

“We don’t take no for an answer, we make the tough arguments — the kind of arguments that maybe other lawyers are a little bit uncomfortable making, we operate in a gray area and are always trying to get the best results for ourselves and our clients, and are willing to do what it takes to get there,” she said.

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