Dickinson & Avella, PLLC
Law Firm & Government Affairs Consulting

Statement of Qualifications

 STATEMENT OF QUALIFICATIONS

Dickinson & Avella, PLLC was founded by partners Christina Dickinson and Michael Avella. Christina and Michael were both former counsels to the New York State Senate . As you can see from their individual biographies, each  brings their own area of expertise, relationships and knowledge base in the world of New York State government. Christina, Michael and the entire Dickinson & Avella Team worked for the State Government for a combined 40+ years and have joined forces to become an effective lobbying team in all avenues of state and local  government. Their ability to capitalize on their collective experiences and relationships means that  clients are well served and given unparalleled access to the many layers of state government. The Firm’s ability to navigate through the ever-changing playing field that is New York State politics is tremendous and translates into success for clients.

Together, the Dickinson & Avella Teqm, have been at the forefront of many major legislative and policy initiatives that have come before the State. Most notably, they were retained on the issues of marriage equality, medical marijuana, casino gaming, criminal justice reform and education reform – all of which were long fought battles in New York State and all of which achieved success in the past several years.  Throughout the years they have assisted entities from start-ups to fortune 100 companies in almost every industry: including health care, energy, education, technology, telecommunications, gaming, insurance and professional sports. Following is a sampling of the firms areas of expertise and accomplishments:

CASINO / VLT GAMING

Gaming has a long history in NYS with many attempts to amend the NYS constitution to expand opportunities for legalized gaming. For decades obstacles such as community opposition, Native-American land claim issues, taxation issues, religious objections, environmental concerns, etc., helped to stall expanded Casino gambling. In 2011 we worked to advocate for a constitutional amendment to allow a limited form of casino gaming in New York. The amendment passed the Legislature in 2012 and 2013 and went on the ballot to the voters in 2013 where it received enough votes to become the law of the State. Our clients were at the forefront of these fights. Our strategy on this issue focused heavily on geographic maneuvering and a partnership with the Executive,  who was willing to put the pieces in place to make this possible. The fourth of seven authorized commercial casinos opened its doors in February of 2018.

We continue to work with Casinos, Racinos and other Gaming and Racing stakeholders to help them navigate the state’s complex laws and political positions related to Gaming and Racing.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

 In 2019 we worked with New Yorkers United for Justice (NYUJ), a broad coalition of criminal justice reform advocates to help craft and execute a strategy which would result in some of the most important criminal justice reforms ever enacted in NYS. We advised NYUJ from its inception on matters such as coalition building, philanthropic fundraising and participation, policy development and legislative and executive strategy. As a result, NYUJ played a critical role in the successful enactment of critical measures, such as Bail Reform, Speedy Trial Reform and Discovery Reform, to enhance public safety and affect a more just criminal justice system. NYUJ will continue to advocate for policies which will ensure equal access for anyone accused in NYS.

In 2017, we worked on behalf of the Justice Action Network with a goal toward achieving criminal justice reform by advocating for raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York.  As part of the 2017 NYS Budget, New York made historic changes to its criminal justice statutes, adopting “Raise the Age Legislation” and joining 48 other states in recognizing juveniles must be treated differently than adults.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Economic Development and job creation is an important agenda item for many New York entities.  We have worked with fortune 100 companies, not-for-profits, start-ups and businesses of all sizes and in all stages of development to help craft and implement economic development and growth plans resulting in many hundreds of millions of dollars in New York State investment.  Working with the Regional Economic Development Councils, Legislative Members and Leadership and the Executive we have successfully advocated for our clients to maximize state investment in their growth.

EDUCATION REFORM

Education will always be at the top of the list of hot button issues facing the Legislature and Executive branches of government. We have worked over the past years, to lobby for appropriate reforms and implementation in relation to various education policy areas including religious and independent school funding, common core implementation and teacher evaluations.  We  have seen great success and have achieved numerous goals over our tenure working on these issues.  We have partnered with both houses of the Legislature, as well as with the Governor’s office in order to make sure our client’s positions are successfully achieved.

ENERGY

Expansion, repowering, renewables and citing are important aspects of the State's longterm energy vision and immediate energy goals.  We have assisted companies of all sizes, including some of the nation's largest power producers in meeting their goals.  Working with the Executive, the Public Service Commission and the Legislature we have implemented strategies resulting in successful outcomes for our clients.

HEALTH

New York's Health Care system is heavily regulated by an intricate set of laws and regulations.  We have worked with numerous pharmaceutical companies, healthcare facilities, and medical associations to help them navigate this vast complex of statutory and regulatory oversight. 

HIGHER EDUCATION

We have assisted both public and private institutions of higher learning with legislative and administrative issues. Working closely with elected leaders and the State Education Department we have worked to achieve results and our clients. Notably, in 2017, helped an international university gain a New York charter, the first international university in New York's history to ever do so.

HORSE RACING

Horse Racing in New York supports multi billion dollar agricultural, tourism and entertainment industries.  Our expertise has assisted horsemen, breeders, racetracks, regional off-track betting corporations and other entities in advocating before the Executive, the Gaming Commission and the Legislature.

INSURANCE

Life insurance, health insurance and title insurance are all heavily regulated industries in New York State.  We have worked with many leaders in these industries to help navigate the legislative process and the numerous agencies which oversee and regulate these industries. 

LABOR

We have worked with various unions on a statewide and local level dealing with legislative, executive and administrative action.  

MARRIAGE EQUALITY

We were retained by the Empire State Pride Agenda and the Gill Foundation to work towards the achievement of marriage equality. This feat should not be underestimated, as it took the better part of two full years to mount a successful campaign, both publicly and behind-the-scenes, in order to add a level of comfort to those members who may have been reluctant to vote for this issue. This achievement was possible due to our personal relationships with the members of both parties, both houses and those on the Second Floor, working hand-in-hand with the Governor’s staff, and the Governor himself, on a nearly daily basis.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA

We were retained by the Drug Policy Alliance to work towards the allowance of medical marijuana in New York State. Again, this required a delicate touch, a member-by-member strategy to get people where they needed to be, comfort-wise, in order to reach the goal of passage which was achieved. This effort required us to mount a grassroots campaign, whereby we had patients and doctors from members’ communities advocating for the legalization as it was a matter of life and death from their perspective.  We also worked with the Marijuana Policy Project to obtain an expansion of the state's medical marijuana program. The result was the inclusion on PTSD as a condition authorized for treatment under the program. We continue to work with industry leading Medical and Adult Use Marijuana firms to help navigate and enhance New York’s marijuana policy.

TECHNOLOGY

We have assisted tech start-ups and fortune 100 tech companies on numerous levels of New York State government.  From insurance issues to labor issue to New York's contract process, we have implemented strategies for our clients to successfully navigate the Department of Financial Services, the Department of Labor, the Office of the State Comptroller as well as the Legislature and the Executive.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS 

We have worked with the largest telecommunications companies in the world on a state and local level assisting them to achieve positive legislative solutions, oppose burdensome regulation and taxation and navigate the state and local procurement process.