January 21, 2016
Judy Barrasso (L ’81, center), new president of the New Orleans Bar Association, is joined at the group’s annual dinner by Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judges Ethel Simms Julien, Paula Brown, Regina Woods and Tiffany Chase .
Photo courtesy of Judy Barrasso
Far more than just a formidable trial attorney, Judy Barrasso (L ’81) has helped shape New Orleans as a professional role model and civic problem-solver.
A founding member of Barrasso Usdin Kupperman Freeman & Sarver and a guiding force on a range of community organizations, Barrasso recently stepped into another leadership role: Guiding local attorneys as president of the New Orleans Bar Association.
And on April 8, the Louisiana Bar Foundation will honor her service to the bar and community with the 2015 Distinguished Attorney Award. (U.S. District Judge Sarah S. Vance (L ’78) is being recognized as the Distinguished Jurist.)
Barrasso said she’s looking forward to continuing the New Orleans bar’s efforts to establish a new civil courthouse for Orleans Parish, mentor young attorneys and help women and minorities advance in the profession.
As bar president, she succeeds Tulane alum Walter Leger Jr. (L ’76). President-elect is Chris Ralston (L ’99). Among the many other Tulanians in bar leadership roles are Treasurer Paul Sterbcow (L ’86), Young Lawyers Chair Kelly Juneau Rookard (L ’06) and Young Lawyers Vice Chair and “Briefly Speaking” co-editor Alex Glaser (L ’10).
A member of the New Orleans Downtown Development District Board of Commissioners for 13 years, Barrasso said she’s proud of that organization’s work transforming the city into a magnet for creative and entrepreneurial activity and a bustling residential area. She’s also a board member of the Contemporary Arts Center and formerly served as an advisory board member of the Anti-Defamation League and on boards of the Pro Bono Project, Dress for Success and Breakthrough New Orleans, an enrichment program for underserved middle-school students.
“It’s important to give back,” she said. “It helps ensure you have a broader perspective and are not living solely in the legal world.”
Barrasso started her career at Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann. In 2003, she opened her current firm with partners Steve Usdin, Steve Kupperman (L ’77), George Freeman, Rick Sarver and H. Minor Pipes. Today, the firm has 30 attorneys (including several Tulane Law grads) and has handled matters in 43 states and Bermuda.
“We took a risk,” she said. “We’ve been really blessed to have a well-rounded, diverse practice inside and outside the state.”
Barrasso focuses on commercial litigation, representing insurers in a variety of complex cases, class actions and mass tort cases. In 2005, she helped steer her firm’s return to New Orleans after the massive flooding following Hurricane Katrina, and she has represented clients on tricky jurisdictional questions arising from the storm damage. With that experience managing storm-related claims, she’s now helping clients in the Northeast handle litigation arising from Hurricane Sandy.
Lawyering is a family affair for Barrasso and her husband, Brent Barriere (L ’81), a Fishman Haygood partner whom she met at Tulane Law: Daughter Jennifer Barriere (L ’12) practices at Adams and Reese in New Orleans, and daughter Ashley Barriere works at Davis Polk & Wardwell in New York after completing a clerkship with U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon.
Barrasso’s involvement in the profession is extensive and wide-ranging. She serves on the Tulane Law School Dean’s Advisory Board and has taught trial advocacy and in the Intersession boot camp’s civil litigation track. She also has taught as an adjunct professor at the Louisiana Association of Defense Counsel Trial Academy. She is a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers and a fellow and second vice president of the International Society of Barristers, organizations that select their members. She served as a board member/chair of the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board and is a member of the U.S. District Court’s first Attorney Disciplinary Committee.