Gerhardstein & Branch Co. LPA is committed to using the law to help those on the margins of power. Our clients are often the victims of discrimination, mistreatment, or violence by those abusing corporate or government power. We bring lawsuits based on the federal and state constitution, civil rights statutes, state laws, the media and any other appropriate means to meet their needs.We view each case as a problem that needs a solution.
For many, fair compensation is all that can be pursued. But other clients want to prevent similar abuses in the future. That means systemic reform “new policies, training, or even memorials – permanent visual reminders to those in power to remain vigilant in protecting those in their care. For us a lawsuit is not an end in itself but a means to achieve justice. We also educate others and speak out publicly on behalf of African Americans, women, gays, prisoners and others whose rights are at risk. We feel honored to do this work on behalf of our clients.
Robert Laufman, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, walked out of the business world and into the world of public interest law in 1972. Dusting off a law degree earned in 1961, he worked as an attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Cincinnati for two years. During that time Bob started filing housing discrimination cases and became the general counsel to Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME), a local fair housing agency. In 1974, Bob left the LAS and began renting space from Allen Brown, then the premier Cincinnati ACLU crusader. In 1974, Bob filed a landmark redlining case wherein he was the plaintiff, Laufman v. Oakley Bldg. & Loan. Bob further developed his expertise in the areas of discrimination and § 1983 litigation. In 1975 Bob started sharing office space with Maggie Quinn and Chessie Lee. In 1977, Mary Armor joined as office manager.
In 1978, Chessie moved to Wisconsin and Al Gerhardstein (NYU, Root-Tilden, ’76) joined, limiting his practice to employment law and discrimination cases, police misconduct and prisoner rights. He came with two years experience as a Reginald Heber Smith Fellow at the Legal Aid Society of Cincinnati. In 1986 he started representing the Planned Parenthood Association of Cincinnati and has since added reproductive freedom to his areas of expertise. Maggie Quinn left the practice to move out of town in 1981 and Trudy Rauh left her position as a law clerk to Chief Judge Edwards of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to join Bob and Al. Trudy’s multi year work on the school desegregation case has had a lasting impact on the structure of the Cincinnati Public Schools. Trudy’s practice also consisted of family law and mediation, in addition to civil rights. She retired from Laufman, Rauh & Gerhardstein in 1998.
In 1997, Jennifer Branch, a 1987 Case Western law grad joined the firm. Jennifer came fresh from her one year “sabbatical “as campaign manager for the 1996 Congressional campaign. Jennifer previously worked nine years for the Legal Aid Society of Cincinnati. In 1998 Paul Laufman joined the firm after two years as a solo practitioner. Paul has focused his practice on criminal defense and civil rights litigation.
In September 2004 Bob Laufman retired from the firm. The following January Jennifer and Paul became partners with Al, creating Gerhardstein Branch & Laufman Co. LPA. Bob Laufman remains of counsel. In September 2006 Paul Laufman left the firm to join forces with his friends at Laufman, Jenson & Napolitano Co. LLC. Thus, on September 1, 2006, the firm name changed to Gerhardstein & Branch Co. LPA.
Currently the firm is staffed by a team of professionals dedicated to the firm’s mission: Caroline Hyatt, associate,who is admitted in Ohio, Sydney Greathouse who started in July 2008 as a paralegal and office manager and Amy Moore who started in August 2013 as a paralegal.
A current vita with a list of significant accomplishments is available for Alphonse A. Gerhardstein and Jennifer L. Branch. A 2009 public television interview of Mr. Gerhardstein provides more insight into several of his significant cases and his career path.