April 2018: Philip Rossetti (L’81)

When a new class of associates joins Latham & Watkins in Boston, they’re always treated to a ‘pep talk’ by one of the founding partners of the Boston office: Phil Rossetti. Phil tells them about the importance of paying attention to detail, treating others with respect, and putting in the work. While all of this sounds rather obvious, Phil says that the most pragmatic and obvious of tasks are what make all the difference between a good lawyer and a great lawyer.

Phil Rossetti                                Partner,                                            Latham and Watkins (Boston)

Phil grew up just a few miles outside of Syracuse, New York, in the Town of Marcellus. He studied economics at the University of Rochester but then returned to Syracuse for law school, having always loved Syracuse University. He recalls how he and his high school friends would go to Marshall Street to browse the records at the local record store, or how they would  sit on the floor of Manley Field House to watch the Orangemen play basketball.  It was only natural that Phil chose Syracuse University College of Law to get his juris doctor.

In 1978, he began his 1L year. Phil had always loved business, and he realized that he wanted to be a part of corporate law and the immense possibilities that came with it. So, he started taking classes and internships that would prepare him for that career.

One of those legal internships, held during his 2L summer, was working as an associate for Bond, Schoeneck & King in downtown Syracuse. As for activities, Phil was very involved in the Syracuse Law Review, where he served as Editor-in-Chief during his 3L year. He recalls working in E.I. White Hall, where the members would gather together in their little office to read page proofs and work on the quickly-growing issue, the Survey of New York Law, now the cornerstone publication of the Syracuse Law Review.

Phil enjoyed being involved in these academic endeavors because he felt that law school made him feel as though he was “studying something he could really use and implement in his career and profession going forward.” Some of his favorite professors – Ted Hagelin, Richard Goldsmith, and Peter Bell – taught him to understand the legal principles while fitting them into a larger context, which he found particularly helpful. He even remembers going home for Thanksgiving his first year and telling his parents, “Don’t tell anyone, but I actually really like law school!”

Following law school, Phil accepted a position in Boston at the firm of Hutchins & Wheeler. He knew that New York City was a hot spot for many of his colleagues, but he felt that Boston offered a sophisticated legal practice in a manageable and livable city.

“Corporate law and business have always been strong dynamics in Boston, particularly in the ‘80s and ‘90s when the economy was very strong,” he said. “The market was also strong for lawyers in Boston. I think the great part, though, was that the educational institutions and culture of Boston generated a tremendous number of technology companies and startups. That’s where I wanted to be.”

Following his time with Hutchins & Wheeler, Phil moved over to Hale and Dorr, which years later merged with Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering to become WilmerHale. For nearly three decades Phil worked at WilmerHale, where he worked on mergers and acquisitions, IPOs, tech company startups, and more. He loved the work, he loved Boston, and he was about to be presented with a new and exciting opportunity: to become a founding partner of a new office.

In 2011, Phil and five other attorneys opened the Boston office of Latham & Watkins, with Phil serving as the office managing partner for the first four years. Today, Phil continues to work in corporate and securities law with an emphasis on mergers and acquisitions, emerging companies, and venture capital financings.

“I really enjoy being able to counsel companies and to help them grow,” he said. “I pride myself on being able to give good business advice in addition to legal advice.  I have seen so many situations over the years and have come to love the life cycle of a company . . . I have lived that life cycle so many times that I can anticipate issues and help position a client for the best outcome.”

“People rely on lawyers to anticipate all of the things that can happen,” he said. “So, when we’re negotiating contracts or transactions, we need to anticipate what can happen, even if there’s only a 1% chance of happening. If it could, it will, so plan for it.”

It is this type of thinking and experience that has led Phil to be named a leader in Corporate Law and M&A for the last three consecutive years by Chambers USA and to be recommended by The Legal 500 U.S. of 2012.

Today, Phil finds himself offering advice and counsel to more than just clients; he does so for Latham’s new associates and summer associates in the Boston office.

“When I was just starting out, I would travel with a senior partner,” he said. “It was my job to make sure the car was there to pick us up, plane reservations and dinner reservations were set, and that we had directions to the right locations at the right time. It may sound silly and trivial, but planning, paying attention to detail, and taking initiative: that’s what helps you get ahead.  It is important that young lawyers show initiative in everything they do, and don’t wait for someone to figure it out for them.  Practical instincts and attention to detail are what set you apart from everybody else.”

Whether it’s advising a client, or giving a pep talk to a summer associate, Phil has set the bar high, not only for those around him, but for the legal profession.

Syracuse Law Review looks forward to recognizing Phil and his many accomplishments at the Law Review Banquet on April 12, 2018.


This story was written by Legal Pulse Editor Samantha Pallini and is the eighth installment of Syracuse Law Review’s monthly feature, “Alum of the Month.” Stay tuned for next month’s feature on another noteworthy Syracuse Law Review alumnus!


 

March 2018: Raj Nichani (L’00)

  Raj Nichani                                              CEO and Founder,                                 The RMN Agency

Michael Jordan’s father once told him that it was “never too late to do anything [he] wanted to do” and that Michael would “never know what [he] could accomplish until [he] tr[ied].” As simple a sentiment as that is, it seems that Raj Nichani has forged his own legal career in accordance with that same advice.

Raised in Daytona Beach, Florida, Raj loved living in the southern United States. He also admired his grandfather, a tax attorney, and his mother, a former student of the law. With his role models in mind, he decided he would pursue a legal career of his own.

He began his pursuit by graduating from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, with history and philosophy majors. From there, he went straight on to Syracuse University College of Law, his first of many moves where he would try something new to see what he could accomplish.

At Syracuse Law, Raj was a very active member of the student body, especially when it came to journals. Raj served as both the Managing Editor of the Syracuse Journal of Law and Technology and an editorial staff member of Syracuse Law Review.

Law Review has had a significant impact on me,” he said. “One of the biggest things that I took away from Law Review was to be detail oriented and to make sure that whatever you write, even an email, is written properly.”

During his 2L summer, after working as a summer associate at Kelley Drye & Warren in New York City, he accepted a post-graduate job offer – another move to try something new to see what he could accomplish. The big move from his long-time home in the south, up to the bright lights of New York City was an adjustment, but he made the most of it over his several years as a litigation associate.

From there, he received an offer to return to Atlanta to work in securities law with Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan. After a few years at Sutherland, he then moved to securities law at Rogers & Hardin in Atlanta. But after several firms and several years, Raj came to a pivotal moment in his career.

“In 2005, after being at three great firms, I started to look at the clock every day and wonder when work was going to end,” he said. “At that point, you realize it is not because of the job but because of your lack of passion for what you are doing.  I decided to call my recruiter who placed me at Rogers & Hardin LLP and tell her that I’m leaving, and she told me to come in and speak with her.  I told her that I wanted to go back to Daytona Beach to sell T-Shirts with my parents, because if it was good enough for them, then it was good enough for me. I thought she was trying to sell me on another legal job, but I obliged her, and she literally gave me an offer I could not refuse: to help run her legal recruiting business – Hughes and Sloan.”

It was then that Raj realized it still wasn’t too late to try something new and see what he could, yet again, work to accomplish. So, he accepted the offer and began working as the Vice President of Legal Recruiting. Following Hughes & Sloan, he worked in legal recruiting for FirstPro, which “gave [him] some great experience for a little over a year and half.”

Raj quickly found that recruiting was his true passion, so much so, that he eventually opened his own legal recruiting agency in 2010: The RMN Agency. This “dream” that became a reality runs on the principle that recruiting and matching are about assessing the bigger picture: from work-life balance, to career goals, to the marrying of clients’ wants with employers’ needs.

“Having a law degree does not just mean you have to be a lawyer in a law firm,” Raj said. “Being equipped with a law degree gives you so many options to succeed in so many different job paths.  I chose to be a legal recruiter, but I have come across so many people that have taken their law degrees and used them to do so many different things in so many different industries.”

So, how do you find your true calling in the legal profession? And how do you stay open to whatever that could be? Raj says there’s one simple answer.

Networking, networking, networking! Meet as many people as you can[,] and don’t lose touch,” he said. “People are always willing to help you, so the more people you meet, the better.”

So, just as MJ learned from his father, Raj came to find in his own journey that, simply because he pursued a career in private securities litigation for years, that did not mean he was locked in for life. He never knew what he could accomplish when he was just starting out as a litigation associate in New York City. Today, he runs an the award-winning legal recruiting agency in Atlanta.

“I was lucky to fall into an industry that I love and enjoy work daily,” he said, “and I hope that for others that have law degrees, whether it the traditional path or non-traditional path.” 


This story was written by Legal Pulse Editor Samantha Pallini and is the seventh installment of Syracuse Law Review’s monthly feature, “Alum of the Month.” Stay tuned for next month’s feature on another noteworthy Syracuse Law Review alumnus!


 

February 2018: Elizabeth August (’94)

Since the beginning, Elizabeth August has had a passion for working with students. Little did she know, that passion would take her on an exciting career that would land her back in the place where it all started: Syracuse University College of Law.

Elizabeth August Teaching Professor, Syracuse Law

In 1986, Elizabeth graduated from St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York. She had always wanted to be a part of education, so she accepted aposition in Boston to run youth programs for an inner-city YMCA. It was there that she got the itch to go to law school.

“I saw how social welfare programs, poverty, and violence impacted a community, and I thought I could go to law school and learn more how to positively impact communities like the one I worked in.”

So, after a few years there, Elizabeth headed off to Syracuse Law. Her most significant interests were always public policy and family law, but she kept an open mind to other opportunities that were presented to her. One of those opportunities? Syracuse Law Review.

During her time on Law Review, she served as the Lead Articles Editor, where she worked to compile articles for books. It required a lot of reading and reviewing, and it helped her to “hone [her] legal research skills[.]”

Immediately following graduation, Elizabeth entered private practice as an associate at Bond, Schoeneck & King in Syracuse, New York. There, she focused mostly on corporate clients and school districts. Whether it was business acquisitions and corporate formations, or the formulating and drafting of policies for a school district, Elizabeth was constantly researching and writing. And it didn’t end there.

Elizabeth then went on to have her own law office, where she represented individuals in real estate transactions and, again, was drafting numerous documents for business clients. Quickly thereafter, however, one of her most influential professors, Bob Rabin, got in touch.

“I had always wanted to teach, and when SUCOL revamped its legal writing program, he reached out to me.”

Before she knew it, Elizabeth was a teaching professor at her own alma mater, teaching “Legal Communication and Research” courses to students across the board.

“The most meaningful opportunity I have had is teaching at SUCOL and developing my Transactional Drafting course,” she said. “SUCOL had never offered a drafting course before. I believe that understanding contract language and organization is an essential skill for all attorneys, since you are always being asked to review or draft agreements.”

Indeed, Transactional Drafting has been a highly sought-after course by 2Ls wishing to enter the private sector upon graduation. And, like Professor Bob Rabin was an impactful professor for Elizabeth, Elizabeth is now serving in that same capacity for her students.

“To be a successful attorney, you must have strong legal research and writing skills,” she said. “Helping student hone those skills over the last 18 years has been incredibly rewarding.”


This story was written by Legal Pulse Editor Samantha Pallini and is the seventh installment of Syracuse Law Review’s monthly feature, “Alum of the Month.” Stay tuned for next month’s feature on another noteworthy Syracuse Law Review alumnus!


 

December 2017: Darren Miller (’07)

Darren Miller, a partner at Nixon Peabody, was not the traditional law student. Yet, his path from classroom to conference room prepared him to be a successful and well-versed attorney.

Born and raised in Scotland, Darren suffered a tragedy at a young age when he lost his father in the Piper Alpha Oil Platform Disaster, and through the ensuing Public Inquiry, was introduced to the law. Family and friends alike told him he’d make a great lawyer someday, and Darren was sure he’d prove them right.

Darren Miller
Partner at Nixon Peabody

Darren first came to the United States at the age of 16 through an exchange student program, spending his senior year of high school in upstate New York, where he met his eventual wife, Aedria. Deciding to stay in the U.S. for good, he enrolled at Binghamton University, where he majored in political science and gained valuable work experience in the legal department of a life insurance company.

Upon graduation in 2004, Darren prepared for his legal education at Syracuse University College of Law, where he would join Syracuse Law Review for Volumes 56 and 57. His Note, inspired by his journey toward American citizenship, was entitled “Terminating the ‘Just Not American Enough’ Idea: Saying ‘Hasta La Vista’ to the Natural-Born-Citizen Requirement of Presidential Eligibility.” Darren’s Note was selected as the number one Note in 2006 and was published in Volume 57.

During his 3L year, Darren served as an Associate Notes Editor for Law Review, helping 2Ls with their Notes and research processes. Darren credits this experience with helping him to develop an unbridled attention to detail, to realize the importance of networking, and to appreciate how valuable research and writing are in the legal field.

“Attention to detail is crucial as a lawyer,” Darren said. “The placement of a comma or the wording you choose can mean the difference between a positive or negative result for your clients.”

While in law school, Darren tapped into a variety of his legal interests, but he always kept an open mind. He knew he loved the law, but he wasn’t quite sure what area of law would be the best fit, with the exception of transactional versus litigation. That, he jokes, he came to decide between very quickly.

“In my first year, we had oral arguments in our Legal Research and Writing classes,” he said. “I was paired against one of my good friends, and she was first in the class at the time. She bested my argument on all counts and handed me a lesson that I wouldn’t forget! I knew, at that moment, I was never going to be one of the courtroom lawyers I saw on television!”

That valuable lesson steered Darren to accept internships and experiences that would ultimately shape his career path and lead him to where he is today.

His first summer, he worked with a small firm in Binghamton, New York, where he dabbled in criminal law and gained plenty of writing experience. The second summer, he found himself at Nixon Peabody in Rochester, New York. It was there that Darren began what has become an exciting and fulfilling career, receiving a job offer from Nixon Peabody at the close of the summer.

After accepting the offer, it became a question of where to place Darren in the firm, as the summer program utilized a rotating-department system.

“They said, ‘What do you think about real estate?’ To be honest, I’d never really thought about it before!” Darren said. “That’s where I started, though, and I’ve really enjoyed building my career with a fantastic group of real estate lawyers in Nixon’s Rochester office and across the country. I didn’t begin to focus on construction law until I was a second- or third-year lawyer, when a couple of departures from the firm opened up an opportunity to learn a niche area of the law. I’ve been really fortunate to learn from a fantastic mentor who really invested a lot of time to teach me this field.”

Darren said that although his practice area choice may appear “happenstance,” a life of “happenstance” prepared him well for that moment—from being an exchange student, to meeting his wife and moving to the U.S. permanently, to taking the summer associate position at Nixon Peabody.

“I think the take home lesson is that being a lawyer always changes,” he said. “You have to be willing to learn something new, to modify your plan. Take the recent changes to the tax code as an example. Many of the changes proposed would have fundamentally changed the nature of tax practice for a number of lawyers at Nixon and elsewhere. Changing circumstances are all part of the job. That’s all a part of lawyering. Being able to pivot and adapt is a fundamental skill necessary for all lawyers.”

Through it all, however, Darren said that work ethic, building strong personal and professional networks, and being open to experiences that will help you grow are all great ways to propel your career forward.

“You don’t have to have a perfect plan,” he said. “I know, as lawyers, we’re all ‘Type A’ people who feel we need to have a path and a plan, but sometimes you don’t need to be so focused on that. The more important thing is whether you can adapt, go with the flow, and take a job that will give you experience to get you to the next level. You have to let yourself be free to explore options.”

Darren’s hard work and open mind have certainly provided him just that: experience that has helped him arrive at the next level. Now a partner (as of January 2017) in the very firm where he got his start—in addition to being named to the Legal 500 list, the Super Lawyers Magazine’s “Upstate New York Rising Stars” for four years, and one of The Daily Record’s “2014 Up & Coming Attorneys”—Darren’s career is an exciting one.

Beyond the recognitions, the new partner position, and the more than ten years in the business, Darren said he loves that a profession like the law also allows him to give back and be a part of something bigger than himself.

“I’ve been a part of a number of great projects as a real estate and construction attorney,” he said. “I help build breweries, museums, shops, and apartment buildings, all of which are important in their own right. But, I’ve also been able to work on some great projects that do so much good for people really in need.

“When I started ten years ago, for example, we started working with a service provider to build a safe space for domestic violence victims. There were a lot of twists and turns along the way, but finally, last year, the building was completed. It was a thrill to attend the grand opening of a building that is a tangible representation of my career to date and, more importantly, fills such an important need for the community it serves. I received a great deal of personal satisfaction from working on that project in particular.”

From ‘happenstance’ to ‘making it happen,’ Darren continues to shine in his field and excel in his craft. We’re certainly excited to see where he goes next!

 


This story was written by Legal Pulse Editor Samantha Pallini and is the sixth 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.


 

 

 

 

November 2017: Damien Elefante (’99)

Damien Elefante’s path to success has had him traverse thousands of miles, dive into the private and public sectors, and, ultimately, settle down into an area of law he never predicted but greatly enjoys.

Damien Elefante                                                        Deputy Director for the Department of Tax for the State of Hawaii

In his senior year of college at the University of Hawaii, Damien was a legislative intern for a state senator.  He witnessed the legislative process and the politics involved in establishing laws for the State of Hawaii.  It was while working at the legislature that Damien was given advice from a legislator about post-graduate opportunities and the suggestion that he take the LSAT.

Before Damien knew it, he was submitting applications to law schools across the United States and juggling acceptance letters.  Ultimately choosing Syracuse University College of Law for the Technology Commercialization Law Studies curricular program and school status, Damien was ready to rid of his “island fever” and embark upon a new adventure in upstate New York.

Entering law school, Damien wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to practice.  He certainly was interested in the technology and management program, but he remained open to the possibilities of trying out a variety of electives and working with one of the clinics.

Moreover, Damien joined Syracuse Law Review, editing with the staff of Volume 48 and serving as Computer Editor of Volume 49.  Simultaneously, he served as an Associate Editor for the Syracuse Journal of Legislation of Policy.

Upon graduation, Damien went to clerk for Chief Judge James S. Burns of the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals for 16 months.  He recalls that “the clerkship was by far the best job he’s had after passing the bar exam!” Damien’s sole responsibility as an appellate law clerk was to write memoranda based on the briefs and arguments that were presented in all types of civil and criminal cases.  This experience exposed him to the process and procedures involved in litigation that formed the foundation for his litigation career.

He began his litigation experience  at Hisaka Stone Goto Yoshida Cosgrove & Ching, working as an associate attorney for a year, until he accepted an offer to be a Deputy Attorney General for Hawaii.

He served as a Deputy Attorney General for almost 14 years, representing the Department of Taxation (DoTAX) in all legal matters, until he found himself on a path to his current position, purely by chance.

“It was during my twelfth year, while I was deciding whether I should stay with the Attorney General’s office or change,” he said. “I decided to apply for various positions, one of which was the Compliance Coordinator for DoTAX.”

Like traveling from Hawaii to Syracuse, or jumping from private to public sector, Damien took on the next adventure from being an attorney to being an administrator.  He performed the job of Compliance Coordinator for DoTAX with enthusiasm and a passion for excellence. Little did he know, others had noticed.

“Six months in, the Deputy Director at the time decided to leave,” he said. “I guess during my six-month tenure, the Director was so impressed with my performance that she asked if I would consider being Deputy Director.  I agreed to be a candidate for the position, and then interviewed with the Governor[.]”

In 2016, Damien was confirmed by the legislature as the Deputy Director of DoTAX for the Hawaii State Government. Today, Damien spends his time managing DoTAX’s administrative and operational activities to enforce the tax laws of the state and implement DoTAX’s mission to “fairly administer the tax laws of the state and hold accountable those who do not pay for their fair share of taxes.”

So, what advice does Damien have for students?

First, network. “Get to know your fellow students, especially if they are planning to practice in the state that you are planning to practice in,” he said.  “At some point in your career, you will probably see them again in some type of work-related capacity.”

Second, realistically prepare for life after law school.  Take classes that will prepare you as much possible for the type of area you want to pursue as a career.  Further, think about more than just resolving cases in front of a judge or jury.

“The most significant cases that have left an impression [on me] are the cases where I was able to negotiate some type of settlement,” he said.  “Thinking back, the same amount of ‘effort’ and motivation is required to settle as  litigating a case in court.”


This story was written by Legal Pulse Editor Samantha Pallini and is the fifth 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.


 

October 2017: Kim Boylan (’86)

The Senior Notes Editor of Syracuse Law Review is a position that covets many roles. An “SNE” must guide the 2L members through their Note writing process, contribute to the executive board of the Law Review, supervise 3L Associate Notes Editors in their duties, and stay on top of reading and research in order to best assist those 2L members who are doing the same.

Kim Boylan                                                Partner and Head of Global Tax Practice at White & Case LLP

During the academic year of 1985-1986, Kim Boylan served as the Senior Notes Editor of Syracuse Law Review (then known as the Notes & Comments Editor). She, of course, sharpened her writing skills, practiced lessons in leadership, and was exposed to a variety of topics and personalities. Thankfully, lessons such as these do not wear off easily, for today, Kim is a partner at White & Case in Washington, D.C., where she serves as Head of the 100-member Global Tax Practice.

Kim began her educational journey in Washington, D.C., when she attended Georgetown University. Graduating as an accounting major, and then receiving her CPA, Kim briefly considered law school before deciding to work for Ernst & Young (which was then known as Ernst & Whinney).

For most of the year, she worked with large clients on the auditing side of EY. She appreciated the audit work, but there was something attractive about the area of tax law. So, she focused on this area during the summer when audit work was slow. Through this exposure to tax law, she gained invaluable experience and it “confirmed for [her] that [she] wanted to go to law school.”

Starting in her second year at Syracuse Law in 1984, Kim dived into tax law head first. She took tax classes and trial practice, participated in Moot Court, joined Law Review, and even wrote her Law Review Note about the tax law governing certain stock transfers.

“One particular professor I remember was Marty Fried,” she said. “He really loved tax, and his love of the subject was infectious. He was an incredible mentor and very encouraging, especially to people like me who wanted to make tax their future.”

Immediately upon graduation, Kim began an exciting career in tax. She first clerked at the United States Court of Federal Claims. “[B]eing a good writer is a very important skill to have,” she said. “Law Review was very helpful in that regard. I gained writing skills that I have used throughout my career from the time spent reviewing and editing the notes of others and writing my own Note. These skills are essential to success as a lawyer….If you have strong writing skills, you will be presented with greater opportunities in your legal practice.”

After clerking, Kim went to work for Dow Lohnes and Albertson PLLC, followed by Mayer Brown. At Mayer Brown, she became a partner and focused on tax litigation.

Kim was fortunate to be involved with two seminal cases at Mayer Brown. The first case involved Riggs Banks (now PNC Bank), a “small player” selected by the IRS as a test case.

“Riggs was selected by the IRS as a test case on tax issues stemming from Brazil’s threat to default on all of its outstanding debt,” she said. “This debt crisis involved banks world-wide that had lent funds to Brazil and, had a restructuring not occurred, the world-financial system was in peril of collapsing. The specific issue involved in the litigation was whether U.S. lenders were entitled to foreign tax credits that arose from the interest Brazil eventually paid on the restructured debt.”

The Riggs litigation carried on for thirteen years, traveling up-and-down to the D.C. Circuit Court on four different occasions. Kim views this case as her version of ‘Bleak House.’

The second case involved U.P.S. and the taxation of the funds collected when the declared value of a package exceeds $100.  “One would not have thought that the 25 cents per $100 of excess value coverage paid by U.P.S.’s customers could ever result in a major tax issue, but those quarters add up and, at the time, this case was one of the largest tax cases ever heard by the United States Tax Court.”

Following her time at Mayer Brown, Kim went on to be a partner at Latham & Watkins. There, she also focused on tax disputes work. Today, she’s carried all of those experiences into White & Case, where she enjoys working with large corporate clients who have complicated IRS tax disputes. She said the one common denominator in all of her work is that there’s always a difficult issue that needs to be resolved. Sometimes it’s a winner, sometimes it’s not, but it always requires a lot of factual development.

With a storied career such as Kim’s, the question remains: what can today’s students do to work their way into a career like hers? Her response: be willing to work for it.

“Being a professional is not the same as being an employee,” she said. “Sometimes the professional has to send an email at 11p.m. before bed. You do have to check your email on the weekends. The difference between the good lawyers and the bad ones is the understanding that this is a profession, not a job. The people that make it are the ones that know that.”


This story was written by Legal Pulse Editor Samantha Pallini and is the fourth 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.


 

Note from the Legal Pulse Editor                             Each day, the editorial members of Syracuse Law Review walk through the doors of Suite 344 to work on their edits and prepare for future issues. We want to thank Kim Boylan, whose name graces a plaque above our office door, for championing Law Review students and encouraging us in our work!

September 2017: Kristen E. Smith (’05)

On top of a small hill, just outside of the city center, lies Syracuse’s famous Irish neighborhood, Tipperary Hill. This is where Kristen Smith was born, raised, and eventually decided to return to start her own family. Yet, despite the familiar setting, Kristen’s career has taken her on adventures far and wide.

Kristen started out at Cornell University, studying Industrial and Labor Relations. She said her studies provided her with a “good mix of the social sciences, like psychology, history, and economics.” She loved the substantive material, and pondered pursuing it further in law school for a brief moment, until graduation when she decided to enter the workforce.

Her first adventures were in professional recruiting – first in Chicago, Illinois, and then in Framingham, Massachusetts. “I was focused on recruiting technology professionals,” she said. “I loved the work, and I was fortunate to work for exciting companies, Bose Corporation being one of them. There, I hired the engineers who made their products.”

Recruiting was a career that Kristen embraced, but after six years, she was ready for her next adventure. “I wanted more of an intellectual challenge, and I was in the process of moving back to Syracuse to be closer to family. So, I decided to go to Syracuse [for law school].”

When Kristen began her 1L courseload, she wanted to keep an open mind. “I took classes in undergrad that showed me what the labor and employment law practice sort of looks like, so I already knew I was interested,” she said. “For that reason, it was important to me to make sure I tried and looked at everything else in law school. I didn’t want to box myself in without exploring my options.”

Kristen interned for Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC in downtown Syracuse during both of her summers in law school. She rotated through all of the departments,  again keeping an open mind, before landing in the labor and employment law practice.

Kristen returned for her 3L year ready to finish up her studies and to lead Syracuse Law Review as the Editor-in-Chief of Volume 55. With all the work that goes into a successful volume, Kristen said she made sure the year was not just one of academic growth for the members, but also one of enjoyment.

To do this, Kristen and some friends decided to take a longstanding flag football tradition – Law Review versus the Journal of International Law and Commerce – and kick it “up a notch” with a name change.

“Every year in the fall, sometime around October, we would have a flag football game where Law Review played JILC,” she said. “It was always just for fun, no fundraiser involved, but we’d make a day out of it. My 3L year, we renamed it the ‘Supra-Bowl’.  We made team shirts for each side featuring the game’s new name.”

Kristen said those memories, as well as the lessons that she learned through editing, were a huge part of her formation and foundation as an attorney.

“As the Editor-in-Chief, I was the last pair of eyes on every article, every page,” she said. “For that reason, I really learned how incredibly important it is to never become lazy…to stay completed focused. So, when you translate that into what I do now, you realize it wasn’t about the substance of the article at the time. It’s about those skills that relate to your attention to detail and your time management.”

Editor-in-Chief was an exciting and fulfilling job, and Kristen said she would “do it all again in a second.” However, her 3L adventures did not end there.

Kristen, and her husband Dan, found out during her final semester of law school that they were expecting their first child. Before she knew it, Kristen was six months pregnant taking the New York Bar Exam and preparing for her first year as an associate at Bond.

“I had my first child one month after I started work,” she said. “Throughout my entire career, I’ve been able to take advantage of flexible working arrangements. I now have four kids, and Bond has always been supportive.”

Today, Kristen has risen up the ranks to become a member (partner) at Bond in the Labor and Employment Department. She has been named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers for the last two years, serves on Bond’s Women’s Initiative Committee, and has recently been presenting and publishing on the topic of the New York Paid Family Leave Benefits Law.

A large majority of Kristen’s caseload deals with defense of employers before the New York State Division of Human Rights, before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and in federal court. She works with a wide range of clients, in terms of both industry and size. Specifically, Kristen noted how exciting it can be to work on a sophisticated legal issue for large corporation one day, and then help a small, family-owned business or not-for-profit the next.  While all the work is interesting, she said sometimes the smaller the client, the more fulfilling the work can be.

“There is a different emotional dynamic when you are defending a small family-owned business or non-profit, ” she said. “Some of the cases I remember the most are those where the organization was very small, and just trying to do the right thing, when a legal claim from a disgruntled employee tossed its financial security and stability into question.  I really enjoy guiding these business owners through the process and coming to a resolution that allows them to continue pursuing their life’s work.”

So, what advice does Kristen have for current students?

“It is very important to quickly recognize the difference between being a law student and being a lawyer,” she said. “In law school, you are in this closed universe with specific questions to answer and that’s that. In the practice of law, it’s different because it’s a completely open universe. You can’t think narrowly about an issue. You need to look at many different angles in order to come up with the best solution for a client….Just saying “no, that’s not allowed” to a client isn’t an answer. You have to anticipate how your advice will impact a client’s life or business, and you have to help them work through it.”


This story was written by Legal Pulse Editor Samantha Pallini and is the third 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.

August 2017: Aaron Tidman (’07)

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.

Aaron Tidman                              Senior Manager, Business Conduct for Gilead Sciences

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 a Senior Manager for Business Conduct at Gilead Sciences, a research-based biopharmaceutical company, headquartered in Foster City, California. There, he is responsible for a broad portfolio of 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, 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.”

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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.

July 2017: Marguerette N. Hosbach (’80)

The word “resurrect” comes from the Latin word resurger, meaning “to rise again.” To resurrect is to both acknowledge defeat and to declare hope. And while resurrecting what has fallen is no simple task, Syracuse Law alumnus Marguerette N. Hosbach (’80) has dedicated her legal career to just that.

           Marguerette N. Hosbach
Executive Director and Associate General Counsel at Ernst & Young 

Twenty-five years ago, Marg started at Ernst & Young in New York City.  She was a young litigation associate and a graduate of the College of Law, where she served as a Syracuse Law Review Notes & Comments Editor.  But her path to EY was certainly not a straight line . . .

Marg graduated from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1973, where she majored in literature.  At the time, she said there were two options for women with that major.  “Back then, you either worked in advertising or publishing, or you went right to graduate school.”

Marg wanted the practical experience first, so she ventured out into the Big Apple and landed a media research analyst position in a large advertising agency.  Much of her time revolved around supporting the media buyers.  And, while Marg enjoyed the work, she wanted to broaden her knowledge of business, in general, and marketing, in particular.  So, in 1974, she entered Columbia’s MBA program, where she paired academic rigor with participation in internships at cultural and business institutions.

Upon graduating from the MBA program, Marg returned to the advertising agency to take on a new role as an assistant account executive.  In that capacity, Marg assisted in developing and implementing television and print advertising campaigns for large consumer companies such as Procter & Gamble (i.e., Crest toothpaste).  Throughout this time, Marg also became familiar with “the law” as it applied to advertising.  Specifically, Marg worked closely with the legal departments at the major networks, vetting advertising copies.  The more Marg dealt with the legal departments, the more interested she became in the “legal side” of advertising and marketing.  So, after a few years with the agency, Marg decided to take on a new challenge:  law school.

She entered Syracuse University College of Law in the fall of 1977, finding herself among a wonderful group of peers.  “The common denominators I saw in all of those people who wanted to become attorneys were their competence, their varied interests, and their drive.”

Beyond the students, however, were the professors who positively impacted her – an impact, she says, they likely do not know.  One professor she recalls was Professor Gary Kelder, a criminal law expert who still teaches at the College of Law today.  “He was so excited about teaching that he’d be jumping up and down!  That enthusiasm is contagious.  His class really impacted me in terms of deciding to take the position I did upon graduation.”

And what was that position?  Assistant District Attorney for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office – the job where she would not only develop her skillset and foundation for a legal career to come, but also where she would meet her husband, Gerry Conroy.

When she arrived at the DA’s Office, Marg was placed in the Appeals Bureau. There, she had the opportunity to participate in the preparation of senior attorneys in connection with two United States Supreme Court cases. She credits this assignment to her time on Syracuse Law Review.  “Certainly, Law Review helped me get a job right out of law school.  I think that that is underscored by the fact that my first assignment out of law school was to the Appeals Bureau of the Manhattan DA’s Office.”

After two and a half years in the Appeals Bureau, Marg joined one of the Trial Bureaus to develop her litigation skills.  She tried about 17 cases, until her next exciting opportunity came along just a few years later: the private sector.

“I started working at Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP in 1985.  Having been on Law Review is one of, I think, the very important reasons why they hired me, especially since they told me that they had never hired anyone out of the public sector before.”  At Cahill, Marg was involved with litigation on behalf of investment banks and large accounting firms.  There, she got exposure to litigation in both civil and regulatory areas.  And after nearly five years of practice at Cahill, a new venture presented itself in the form of Ernst & Young—and Marg grabbed at the opportunity.

During Marg’s first years at EY, she handled accounting malpractice litigation.  However, after a few years with EY, the Enron scandal hit, and there was a surge in the number of large companies filing bankruptcy and hoping to emerge as healthier companies.  Some of those large companies were clients of EY.

Marg started hearing from the restructuring professionals at EY—you have an MBA, you are a litigator—and before she knew it, Marg was asked to develop a practice whereby she could support EY professionals who were providing services to distressed clients.  “I’ve now been advising EY partners who provide services to distressed companies for the past 20 years, and throughout, I’ve seen many waves of industry sectors using bankruptcy to rebuild and emerge with healthier financial structures.  For me, it began with a few questions re the Maidenform bankruptcy and questions over the next few years in connection with numerous retail clients. Enron filed in 2001, then a few years later the bursting of the tech bubble, more recently coal, oil, and energy, and now a new wave of retail filings.”  From industry to industry, Marg has played a role in helping companies restructure and emerge, and she’s done it all through the power of the law.

One of her favorite cases of all?  The City of Detroit.  EY was a financial restructuring advisor to the City of Detroit during its Chapter 9 proceeding (municipalities file Chapter 9, rather than Chapter 11), and Marg helped support the EY team in the provision of EY services.  “I only made a tiny contribution, but Detroit’s restructuring was—without question—crucial to the City thriving.  It was so great stepping back and seeing attorneys making this kind of positive difference for a great American city.  I still have a cover from the NY Times re Detroit posted to my office bulletin board.”

She said the sort of work where a company goes into bankruptcy—broken and defeated—and then can emerge healthy and ready to contribute positively to the American economy is the kind of work that makes her proud.  “That kind of work saves jobs, helps industries thrive, and adds positively to the economy, and I’m proud to be a part of that team.”

Marg’s resume runs the gamut of legal practice, and she wouldn’t have had it any other way.  “My parents used to tell me, ‘You really want to make certain you enjoy what you do because you’ll spend so much time doing it.’ I searched for what was interesting to me at the time, what would be of interest to me in the future, and what would also allow me the opportunity to feel like I was doing something substantive and meaningful.”

I think we all can agree that, from criminal prosecution to corporate insolvency, Marg has done just that.


This story was written by Legal Pulse Editor Samantha Pallini and is the first 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.