Car Accident Attorney
Duane Schoonmaker grew up in Vestal, New York, on the shores of the Susquehanna River. After graduating high school with academic honors, he earned his undergraduate degree, with honors, from the University of Albany with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and a dual minor in Political Science and History. He went on to earn his Juris Doctor from the University at Buffalo School of Law in 1985.
He has been practicing law since his admission in New York in 1986. He began practicing near his hometown, in Binghamton, New York representing injured plaintiffs. Duane moved to Buffalo in 1989 and now considers Buffalo his home. He has continued representing the victims of negligent and intentional acts since then. He joined the firm of William Mattar, P.C. in April 2018 to continue fighting for the rights of those injured by the negligent and reckless acts of others.
He has been invited to speak to other lawyers at continuing legal education programs on many topics including Court Rules and Updates in a Civil Trial; Ethical Considerations in a Civil Trial; Deposing Defendant’s Corporate Personnel and Experts; Recent Amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure; Taking on a Slip, Trip and Fall Case in New York; Facebook and Beyond: Social Media; and Trial of a Soft Tissue Automobile Accident.
He first became enthralled with the justice system after reading To Kill a Mockingbird in high school. Like so many, he wanted to follow in the footsteps of Atticus Finch, fighting for the rights of others. This prompted him to take a legal internship in high school as part of a career development program. While in college, he successfully fought against a slumlord who rented dilapidated housing to fellow students. In law school, Duane worked with the Better Business Bureau mediating disputes between customers and businesses. “I became a lawyer because I wanted a career in which I could help people solve their problems.”
Duane has years of experience successfully trying both jury and non-jury cases throughout New York State, conducting arbitrations and mediations, and handling appeals in both New York State and Federal Court. He has earned multiple million-dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of his clients. These, and other verdicts and settlements, have been recognized statewide. He has been recognized with the Super Lawyers designation for his outstanding character and professional performance.
He is the former Chair of the Negligence Committee of the Bar Association of Erie County. In addition to being an active member of the Bar Association of Erie County, he is also a member of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association – Western Regional Affiliate, the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers, and the New York State Bar Association. Duane is admitted to practice law in New York State, in Federal Court in the Western District of New York and the Northern District of New York, and in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. He formerly coached high school teams in the statewide High School Mock Trial Tournament, before later becoming a judge in the competition. This competition provides high school students with an opportunity to conduct a trial, from opening statements to closing arguments, based on an established set of facts.
In 2018, he participated in the American Cancer Society’s Real Men Wear Pink fundraising campaign for breast cancer research and awareness, wearing pink every day during the month of October.
Duane is married with one adult daughter. In his spare time, he is an active member of his parish and a member of the Board of Directors of his homeowners association. He enjoys spending time with his family, reading, renovating his house, and playing golf.
- SUNY Albany (B.A.), cum laude, 1982
- University at Buffalo (J.D.), 1985
- New York State, 1986
- US District Court, Western District of New York, 1986
- US District Court, Northern District of New York, 1986
- US District Court, Second Circuit Court of Appeals, 1986
Professional Associations & Memberships
- Bar Association of Erie County
- New York State Bar Association
- New York State Trial Lawyers Association (Western New York Chapter)
- New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers