Leading Investment Management Firm Provides Grant for Experiential Learning at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law, Naming Its RealFi Funding Investor Rights Clinic

October 7, 2021
(front) Professor Jill Gross, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Professor and Dean Horace Anderson, John C. Lettera ’99, Founder and CEO of RealFi Financial LLC, Professor Elissa Germaine, Executive Director, John Jay Legal Services and Director, RealFi Funding Investor Rights Clinic, (back) students from the RealFi Funding Investor Rights Clinic Shabnam Froogh, 3L, Omar Youssef, 3L, Jessica Jhingoor, 4L, and Anthony Balbo ’19, Director, RealFi Real Estate Investment Trust.

The Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University has received a generous five-year grant to name its Investor Rights Clinic after RealFi Financial LLC, a leading, technology-driven, alternative investment management firm. The newly named RealFi Funding Investor Rights Clinic is recognized across the country as a leader in arbitration and securities dispute resolution, and is considered one of most unique experiential learning opportunities at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law.

For the past quarter century, the RealFi Funding Investor Rights Clinic has provided students with direct legal experience under the supervision of licensed attorneys who are not only great practitioners, but also trained in individually educating and mentoring students. The clinic makes a tremendous impact on the community by providing access to the justice system to investors of modest means otherwise unable to afford representation.

Under the auspices of John Jay Legal Services, Inc., a not-for-profit legal services firm that houses and runs the clinic and externship programs at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law, student interns in the RealFi Funding Investor Rights Clinic represent small investors with claims against their brokers in arbitration and mediation proceedings before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Since its inception, more than 200 students have participated in the Clinic, reviewing hundreds of inquiries, and handling approximately 100 cases for investors. Clinic students have secured almost $900,000 in recovered funds for their clients.

“We deeply appreciate RealFi's generous gift, which will help the clinic continue to expand its important work to bring access to justice to small investors and provide our students with additional educational and advocacy opportunities,” said Professor Elissa Germaine, Executive Director of John Jay Legal Services and Director of the RealFi Funding Investor Rights Clinic.

The grant from RealFi was inspired by its Founder and CEO John C. Lettera, who is a 1999 graduate of Haub Law and also serves as an adjunct professor at the Law School, teaching Corporate Finance to upper level students.

“Much of my success is rooted in the foundation I received at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law,” said Lettera. “I have always had a passion for teaching and am addicted to the challenge of how to get students even more engaged in learning. I can’t teach every student in the world, but I can make a difference for the ones I teach. Knowing that the impact I can have on their lives can stay with them throughout their years of schooling and beyond is incredibly inspiring. Investing and partnering with Pace is another step forward in making a difference.”

Lettera is another alumni success story for the Elisabeth Haub School of Law. He has over 21 years of legal experience and over 27 years experience in real estate debt originations and acquisitions as well as equity investing. He founded and has successfully managed two financing funds worth over $100 million. At RealFi, based in White Plains, NY, he employs 16 graduates of Haub Law, building and mentoring a management team with a diverse combination of legal, financial, management, real estate, transactional and investment skills. His teaching and philanthropic commitments are among many contributions to the law school, as he generously lends his expertise on panels and his broad network for fundraising events. In 2013, he received the distinguished Haub Law Leadership Award recognizing his support.

“John’s commitment to Haub Law is an inspiring example and we are so grateful to have his support,” said Horace E. Anderson Jr., Dean and Professor of Law at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law. “He lends his time and resources in so many ways to the school — as a teacher, expert, mentor, connector, and philanthropist. He is truly making a difference in student’s lives and this gift will further enhance the rich educational experience of our Investor Rights Clinic to put classroom learning into practice.”

About Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University
Pace University’s Elisabeth Haub School of Law offers J.D. and Masters of Law degrees in both Environmental and International Law, as well as a Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) in Environmental Law. The school, housed on the University’s campus in White Plains, NY, opened its doors in 1976 and has over 9,000 alumni around the world. The school maintains a unique philosophy and approach to legal education that strikes an important balance between practice and theory. Haub Law launched its Environmental Law Program in 1978, and it has long been ranked among the world’s leading university programs, with a current #1 ranking by U.S. World and News Report.

About John Jay Legal Services, Inc.
John Jay Legal Services, Inc. is a not-for-profit legal services firm that houses and runs the clinic and externship programs at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University. In our clinics, students provide direct legal representation and access to justice for clients on a pro bono basis while being supervised by clinical faculty. In our externships, students work with and learn from practicing lawyers in a variety of placements tailored to their interests. These experiential learning programs offer students the opportunity to gain real-world practical legal experience during their time at Haub Law.

About RealFi Funding LLC
RealFi Funding LLC is a leading, technology driven, alternative investment management firm with expertise in real estate credit strategies. Through its subsidiaries, RealFi is an originator of qualified and non-qualified residential home mortgages. And through the RealFi REIT— a leading real estate finance company—the firm is a direct lender focused on originating commercial real estate bridge loans in major markets throughout the United States. RealFi is recognized as one of the nation's leading mortgage and asset management companies, employing hundreds of professionals and continuing to grow exponentially.

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