By Jane Schmitt, originally published in Buffalo Business First on Jun 3, 2019, 1:17am EDT.

Emerging Attorney: Deena Mueller-Funke

Deena Mueller-Funke Deena Mueller-Funke won a Hon. Judith S. Kaye Commercial and Federal Litigation Scholarship from the New York State Bar Association. Joed Viera

Deena Mueller-Funke had the privilege last fall of winning the Hon. Judith S. Kaye Commercial and Federal Litigation Scholarship from the New York State Bar Association.

It’s awarded to up to five women litigators statewide who are dubbed Kaye Scholars. They will attend the Commercial Litigation Academy in November in New York City.

“The goal of the scholarship is to help increase the number of women prepared to serve as first chair in large commercial cases,” the association said on its website. NYSBA and its Commercial and Federal Litigation Section sponsor the annual academy.

Just six years out of law school, Mueller-Funke has distinguished herself in the profession as she focuses on commercial litigation and appellate, health care and data security law. She is a senior associate at Phillips Lytle LLP in Buffalo.

“Admittedly, I have always been a Type A personality,” she said. “Just doing something is not enough, I have to do it to the highest level or to the absolute best of my ability.”

Making lots of lists helps keep her on track.

“Almost daily I will make a list of outstanding tasks and deadlines and reprioritize what I need to do next,” she said. “Also, staying up to date on all the facts and issues of a case helps. When something unexpected comes in, it is much easier to respond when you do not have to first educate yourself about an issue.”

Landing at the Buffalo law firm was a major step in her career.

“It was really important to me that I would be doing substantive and meaningful work as early as possible, and getting into the courtroom. That is my favorite part of the job,” she said. “I also wanted a workplace that felt like being on a team.”

Mueller-Funke points to electronic data discovery as one of the most difficult parts of being an attorney today.

“I think it has completely changed the course of a litigation,” she said. “It is incredible how many documents may be discoverable. It is a real challenge to navigate the collection, review and exchange of that information, and in cases where there are literally millions of pages, it is a little overwhelming.”