Paying Tribute to Mark Jay Epstein

Paying Tribute to Mark Jay Epstein

We celebrate the life and mourn the passing of our dear friend and partner, Mark Epstein. Mark suddenly passed away on June 11, 2020.  He was a fixture at Pazer Epstein Jaffe & Fein, PC, for twenty-six years and was the engine that kept the firm running at all times.

Mark was an incredibly devoted father of two teenage boys who were the light of his life. Not a day went by without Mark telling stories about his sons or planning the next moment he could spend by their sides. In addition to the countless hours spent at the office, Mark was remarkedly active in Long Island and regional politics and was Chair of the Long Island Railroad Commuter Council and Vice-Chair of the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission.  

A graduate of American University and New York Law School, Mark started his career in the field of personal injury law on the defense side. He moved over to handle plaintiff cases for accident victims soon thereafter at what was then Pazer & Epstein, ultimately becoming a partner and helping the firm to grow into what it is today.

Known as an inspiring individual with endless generosity, Mark has undoubtfully had a life-long impact on our family at the firm. Below are a few heartfelt words from our partners:

Michael Jaffe: “It’s difficult to put into words how it feels to lose a partner and friend I’ve known and worked with every day for my entire career.  Mark was like a brother to me.  He was the consummate professional, honest, reliable, treating everyone he encountered with dignity and respect.  I have lived through the ups and downs of a twenty-six-year career side-by-side with Mark and cannot imagine walking into our offices without him.  In his personal life, his love for his sons and treasuring of every minute he could spend with them was his driving force. He would light up any time he talked about them, which was often.  I will miss Mark for the rest of my career and will cherish his memory and his imprint on our firm and our lives.”

Matthew J. Fein: “Starting as an associate with the firm twenty years ago, I first met Mark as the interviewing partner and, having spoken with him for an hour, was convinced that Pazer & Epstein, at that time was a place I wanted to continue my career.  I was immediately struck by his easy-going nature and big smile, that in a business like ours is all too often a rarity.  His demeanor was infectious, and I liked him immediately. That was Mark. 
While helping to manage a successful, yet stressful practice, Mark always maintained a calming influence.  Sometimes to his detriment, he always put everyone else in his life first, be it his family, friends, or partners.  My favorite memory of Mark was after 9/11 when videos of our building that night showed the horrors of smoke, fire, chaos, and uncertainty of the practice. I had only been with the firm a short time, and looking back, the firm’s first-year associate was the least of their concerns.  Other than my immediate family, I got one call that night… from Mark. He told me, “The firm always has prepared for emergencies, and don’t worry you still will have a job.”  Years later, when I became his partner, I recounted that story with him and I’m glad I could tell Mark how much that single act meant. But you see, that was Mark.  The calm in the storm. 
I saw Mark speak live at many of his political causes and interact with others outside the firm, and people were just drawn to him.  Why? Because he was always genuine. Something we can use a little more of in today’s world. 
I was always amazed at how one man, helping to run a successful practice, went out of his way to find time for his boys. Mark always found a way to make the right phone call to the right person, no matter how much effort it took to make sure his boys not only went to the ball game, but got to go in the locker room, or meet a star-like Derek Jeter, Willie Randolph or some other celebrity. He will be missed by so many because he was known by so many and always liked. 

As a lawyer, he always put the client first and formed close relationships with the families of those tragically injured.  He helped these families not only as a lawyer but as a friend. A trait I have learned from him and will take with me the rest of my career. Having lost him so young, I wish he would have put himself first, even just once. But again, that was Mark. 
I will miss him not only as a partner and friend but as a man. May his memory be a blessing and his kindness a lesson for us all.”

Eugene Gozenput: “Mark was the first person I met when I first started with the firm.  He was a mentor to me and someone who taught me about the daily grind of the practice and how to handle problems when they arise.  Throughout my 15 years with the firm, I got to know Mark very well.  He constantly talked about his children and would share stories of college visits and baseball games that he would go to with his sons.  Mark had a great sense of humor and would frequently crack jokes to lighten the mood.  He would often send the firm funny emails throughout the day or the weekend which was nice because it wasn’t always about work with him.  Mark was a lawyer’s lawyer and was always a dedicated professional. He did things the right way and was a great person to learn from.  He was honest to the core and was a straight shooter when it came to dealing with problems.  I am beyond saddened by this loss and will miss him terribly.  Mark was family to all of us at the firm and we will never forget him or his personality.  Our thoughts are with Mark’s family this time.”  

Mark’s incredible personality and constant professionalism will be painfully missed by all of us at Pazer Epstein Jaffe & Fein for years to come. His passing is indeed a great loss for our firm and the legal community at large. Rest in peace, dear friend.