Main Menu Main Content
Related Info
  • Bar Association of Erie County (NY)
  • Erie County Bar Association (PA)
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania

Cornell University, B.S., with distinction

University at Buffalo School of Management, M.B.A., with distinction

SUNY Buffalo Law School, J.D., magna cum laude

Rafael (Ralph) Pignataro is a transactional business and commercial real estate lawyer. He focuses his practice on large-scale commercial development and construction, commercial real estate, as well as related finance and other business transactional matters.  

Ralph spent 6 years in the industry as in-house counsel, so he understands there is no “one size fits all” path for clients. Ralph prides himself on his practical approach to practicing law. For every deal or issue he encounters, Ralph tailors his plan to meet a client’s needs. He is known for his ability to develop unique and personalized contracts for each client’s particular situation. He internalizes legal issues clients face as his own in order to effectively reach an efficient economic outcome.

Ralph has been directly involved in some of Western New York’s biggest sports facility leasing and development matters, including the new Buffalo Bills stadium in Orchard Park and the Harborcenter in downtown Buffalo. He represents public and private buyers, sellers, landlords, tenants, and developers in other corporate matters, including the finance and/or purchase of retail, industrial, and office space; residential developments; and other investment properties and 1031 Exchanges.

Ralph regularly counsels one of the largest faculty-student associations in New York State on everything from not-for-profit governance issues to negotiation of commercial contracts to real estate development and construction.  Additionally, Ralph leads a team of Hodgson Russ attorneys representing an upstate New York public authority currently developing a large renewable energy warehouse and manufacturing facility.  That project involves an in-depth public-private partnership that seeks to utilize public incentives, a large bond issuance and a complicated real estate structure to achieve significant cost savings in the construction of the project.

Ralph also has significant, practical experience in complex liquor license and hospitality-related matters. He represents owners of bars and restaurants in acquisitions, leasing, and alcoholic beverage applications with the New York State Liquor Authority.

When he is not officially on-the-clock, Ralph takes great pride in being a father of three young boys. He is a youth football coach for West Seneca Little Loop Football and is active in the local youth hockey community.


  • Listed, Best Lawyers in America Ones to Watch (Real Estate Law) 2024
  • Buffalo Business First’s 30 Under Thirty Award, 2015.
  • Leadership Buffalo Class of 2015 Rising Leaders Program.

Presentations & Events

Community & Pro Bono

  • Ilio DiPaolo Scholarship Fund, Board of Directors