Most kids don’t dream of becoming a lawyer, but Aaron Tidman wasn’t most kids. Having grown up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., Aaron was involved in politics, government, and law as far back as he can remember. In high school, he spent summers interning on Capitol Hill. In college, he interned with the White House. Finally, after studying history and political science at the University of Pennsylvania, Aaron moved to New York City to work as a paralegal, getting some professional experience in before law school.
After working as a Trial Preparation Assistant for the Rackets Bureau of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, Aaron was smitten with the idea of becoming a prosecutor. In part, this was why Aaron chose to attend Syracuse Law – for the top-notch trial advocacy program. Shortly after starting law school, however, he found himself in a class that would forever shape his future as an attorney . . .
“It was my 2L year, and I had Professor Harding for Securities Regulation,” he said. “She was an amazing professor. That class was a major turning point for me, and it just goes to demonstrate how much of a role professors and teachers can have in your career trajectory.”
Before he knew it, Aaron was writing his Law Review Note on securities law enforcement (with the supervision of Professor Harding), accepting a summer internship with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Enforcement Division, and working his way forward into a career in securities law that he now loves.
During his tenure at the College of Law, Aaron served as Lead Articles Editor for Syracuse Law Review. In this position, Aaron recruited a number of prominent academics to write articles for publication, including Erwin Chemerinsky, Akhil Amar, Ronald Rotunda, and Andrew Koppelman.
In addition, Aaron created and organized a symposium entitled, “A Nuclear Iran: The Legal Implication of a Preemptive National Security Strategy.” This was the first live symposium hosted by Syracuse Law Review in many years. The 2006 symposium included some of the biggest names in national security law, with panelists such as James Timbie, Steven Miller, Mitchel Wallerstein, David S. Jonas, and Col. Samuel Gardiner, as well as renowned journalist Seymour Hersh serving as the keynote speaker.
Outside of Syracuse Law Review, Aaron competed in the Irving R. Kaufman Memorial Securities Law Moot Court Competition and served as a Research Assistant for Professor Kathleen O’Connor’s Legal Communication and Research class.
Upon graduation in 2007, Aaron began working for Debevoise & Plimpton LLP as a litigation associate, handling matters mostly focused on securities litigation, regulatory enforcement, and white-collar criminal defense. Then, in 2012, Aaron decided to leave the firm and work full-time as Regional Voter Protection Director for the Obama campaign in Virginia. In that role, he recruited and trained hundreds of volunteer attorneys to serve as poll observers, and on Election Day, he managed a team of 15 attorneys handling any voting-related issues in his region.
Following the campaign, Aaron returned to private practice at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky, and Popeo, P.C. (“Mintz”) in Washington, D.C., where he primarily focused on the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and white-collar defense matters, including insider trading and securities fraud investigations. At Mintz, Aaron found a mentor and friend in Paul Pelletier, a former career prosecutor with the Department of Justice, who was invaluable in helping to guide and shape Aaron’s career.
Today, Aaron serves as Anti-Corruption Counsel for Gilead Sciences, a research-based biopharmaceutical company, headquartered in Foster City, California. There, he is responsible for a broad portfolio of legal and compliance matters related to the company’s anti-corruption and Office of Foreign Assets Control programs. Aaron said that the international travel, exciting challenges of serving in his new role as in-house counsel, and trials and thrills of moving across the country – from Washington D.C. to Foster City – are never what he initially dreamed up for his future, yet are all welcome life experiences and learning opportunities.
Over the course of his career, Aaron has been awarded City Year’s Idealist of the Year, the LGBT Bar Association’s 40 Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40, as well as Super Lawyers’ Rising Star for White Collar Defense. So, what advice does this decorated and well-accomplished attorney have for the next generation of Syracuse Law graduates?
“There’s a multitude of ways to achieve success,” he said. “Don’t feel like you need to take the traditional big law firm path. Your first job out of law school will definitely not be your last, and it’s okay to switch jobs and practice areas. This is a profession where you learn on the job; so, you might discover that you’d prefer to focus on a different area of the law a few years down the road. Regardless, look for a mentor and champion right away – someone to guide you and help you navigate your professional choices. Having an advocate and sounding board is invaluable.”
This story was written by Legal Pulse Editor Samantha Pallini and is the second installment of Syracuse Law Review’s new monthly feature, “Alum of the Month.” Stay tuned for next month’s feature on another noteworthy Syracuse Law Review alumnus.