Success Stories

2009 alumnus

Jonathan Engel

Jonathan Engel, a 2009 law school alumnus, and his father Robert C. Engel Senior recently donated property where the Engel family conducted its business, Engel Funeral Home, Inc., for four decades.  The property was donated to Access: Supports for Living. Access provides services for those with special needs, including those facing the challenges of disability and mental illness. The Engel family was celebrated with the dedication of The Engel Center.

Jonathan Engel graduated from the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University in 2009. He is a member of the School’s alumni board. In addition to being a trial attorney with Finkelstein & Partners, LLP, Jonathan is also of counsel to Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, and of counsel to Fine, Olin, & Anderman, LLP. 

You can read more about the donation and generosity of the Engel’s here and here.

A Dedicated Group of Environmental Alumni

The Pace Environmental Law Alumni Association (PELAA)

The Pace Environmental Law Alumni Association (“PELAA”) was originally established as the Pace Environmental Alumni Council by a dedicated group of environmental alumni, including C. Nicole Simmons (’04), Andy Provence (’98), and Daniel McKillop (’01). PELAA is self-described as “an informal association of Pace alums who seek to strengthen ties between and among environmental alumni.” 

Mackenzie Schoonmaker (’07) is one of several alumni currently leading the group.  “PELAA’s primary mission is to connect Pace alumni, further the alumni’s professional relationship with the law school, and ensure the environmental program maintains its top caliber standing.  As a group, we are committed both to promoting and celebrating our alumni as environmental law leaders, and to bolstering the environmental program’s overall reputation.”

The PELAA demonstrates their sincere dedication to the Elisabeth Haub School of Law’s environmental program each and every year.  Every year the PELAA hosts environmental alumni gatherings, mentors environmental students, provides assistances to the environmental law program, and promotes environmental events held at and/or sponsored by the Law School. 

Notably, annually, the PELAA bestows the Nicholas A. Robinson Award for Distinguished Environmental Achievement upon deserving alumni. This past year, alumnus Mark Yaggi (’97) and Dan Estrin (’93) were the recipients of the Robinson Award. PELAA presented Marc and Dan with the 2017 Robinson Award. Janice Dean (’05), another alumna currently leading the group, notes that Marc and Dan were presented with the Award as “a recognition of their environmental achievement, support for the Law School and its students and alumni, and embodiment of the spirit of the inimitable Nick Robinson.”

What is particularly noteworthy about the PELAA is its vast network of environmental alumni. In the past few years, the group has organized this network into a comprehensive environmental alumni directory. “We want to spur further connections between alumni. We, as a group, are one of our most valuable professional assets. The more connected we are with one another, the more we can network, and use our strengths to benefit one another, the Environmental Program, and the Law School,” Janice said.    

Janice notes that the website for the Pace Environmental Law Alumni Association (www.paceenviroalumni.org) features photos and a searchable alumni directory of all currently-practicing environmental alumni, and anyone who graduated from the environmental program. “As alumni we created the directory and we maintain it. I gladly will include those who reach out to me in the directory and provide them with the password to access the directory. And, we welcome ideas! Ideas for events, and ideas on how we can continue to strengthen ties between and among alumni and the School.”

The Association has a website (noted above) and also maintains a presence on LinkedIn and Facebook. The group encourages engagement from any environmental graduate on any of these platforms. Current steering committee members of the PELAA include: Janice Dean, JD 2005, Mackenzie Schoonmaker, JD 2007, Sean Dixon, JD 2009, LLM 2010, Sam Capasso, JD 2010, LLM 2011, and Patrick Carroll, JD 2015. The group wants to stress that anyone can join the steering committee or become active with their efforts! The best way to reach out for more information on the Association is to visit their website or reach out to Janice Dean directly at janice@janicedean.com.

A Leading Environmental Scholar

Dr. Mingde Cao, SJD

Dr. Mingde Cao was recently awarded his doctoral (SJD) degree in Environmental Law by the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University. He was also presented with the Françoise Burhenne-Guilmin Award for Merit. He received this honor due to the excellence of his thesis, “A Comparative Study of Carbon Emission Reduction Systems.” Dean Emeritus Richard Ottinger notes that “Mingde’s thesis incorporated original research methods and was extremely thorough and insightful.” After the defense of his thesis, the Law School’s SJD Faculty Committee conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Juridical Sciences and he was officially welcomed as an alumnus.

Currently, Professor Cao is an environmental law professor at the China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL). As a leading China environmental scholar, he participated in the drafting of the revised the major 2014 amendment of China’s Environmental Protection Law. He noted that this law was a major advancement in China’s legal efforts to promote environmental protection.

Professor Cao was a recipient of the China Law Society Award to the Ten Most Distinguished Law Professors in 2006. He has made significant scientific contributions through his research and publications throughout his career, specifically focused on carbon emissions, the environment, the ecological system, climate protection, protecting wildlife, climate change, and more. He has published three books, two textbooks, and over 100 academic pieces.

Before completing his SJD degree at Pace, Professor Cao was a visiting scholar at the Law School from 2005-2006. He was also a visiting scholar at Faculty of Law University of British Columbia, and received his LLM from Vermont Law School.  He was the Vice President of the China Association of Environmental Resources Law Research, Vice President of the Environmental Law Branch of the Chinese Society for Environmental Sciences, Director of Climate Change and Natural Resources Law Research Center of CUPL, and a legal expert of All China Environment Federation (ACEF).

Professor Cao notes that, “My studies during the course of obtaining my SJD at Pace Law were extremely interesting and valuable. What I learned at Pace will contribute immensely to my current and future research and advocacy in favor of environmental law.” 

A Once in a Lifetime Experience

Rafael Wolff, LLM

Since 2006, Rafael Wolff has served as a Federal Judge in Brazil. He is connected to the Fourth Circuit, which is responsible for the southern states of Brazil. “As a Judge, I encounter a variety of legal issues. One that comes up with more frequency is environmental crimes. This is what brought me to Pace Law to pursue my Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) in Environmental Law.”

Prior to his studies at Pace, Judge Rafael Wolff received a master’s degree (LLM) from the Universidade Federal Fluminense. His dissertation was about undercover agents and, today, it is published as a book in Portuguese.

“The SJD program at Pace is well known throughout Brazil for its excellence in environmental law. Once I decided to further my education, I knew that Pace was the only place to do it.” Admission to the SJD program at Pace is highly competitive, however, with his educational and professional background; Judge Rafael Wolff met all of the criteria necessary for admission.

“Professor David Cassuto was my advisor during my studies at Pace and immediately upon beginning my studies he provided guidance and support.” Fluent in Portuguese, Professor Cassuto is also the director of the Brazil American Institute for Law and Environment (BAILE), a cooperative endeavor with the Getulio Vargas Foundation School of Law in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Judge Rafael Wolff notes that Professor Cassuto worked closely with him to supervise his research and to eventually write and defend a publishable dissertation.

While completing his SJD, Judge Wolff was able to take classes in a variety of areas, including prisoners’ rights, comparative criminal procedure, White Collar Crime, Ocean Law, and more. “The knowledge that was shared with me was beyond my expectations. Professors Cassuto, Mushlin, Griffin, Fentiman, and Powers, to name a few, made each class interesting and contributed significantly to my knowledge base.”

When it came time to choose and research a thesis, Judge Wolff decided to focus on two areas that interest him greatly and intersect:  imprisonment and environmental crimes. His research ultimately culminated in him writing and successfully defending his dissertation, titled “Environmental Crimes and Imprisonment: Does Prison Work to Prevent and Punish Environmental Criminals?” Judge Wolff notes that the completion of his thesis was one of the most challenging academic exercises he has accomplished. “It was hours and hours and months of research and writing. However, at the end, I had a product I knew was well-thought out, made sense, and was interesting. I learned more than I thought possible from the dissertation process and I enjoyed defending my dissertation to the faculty at Pace Law whom I respect so much.”

After receiving his SJD from Pace Law in 2016, Judge Wolff returned to Brazil. “It was a once in a lifetime experience, I gained new friends and colleagues during my studies and I was taught by internationally respected experts and scholars in the field.”

 

A One of a Kind Legal Education

Júlio Borges, LLM

Júlio Borges knew from a young age that he wanted to pursue a legal career. “Law was something that I was always interested in and I knew I wanted my career path to reflect that.” Realizing his goals, in 2003 Júlio became a law graduate from the Center of Superior Studies of Maceio (CESMAC), which is located in his hometown of Maceio, Brazil.

After completing his law degree, Júlio became a federal attorney in Brazil.  It was during this time that Júlio began to take his legal education even further. In 2009, he concluded a 2 years’ post-graduation program in public law at the University of Brasilia.  Desiring to further his studies, he pursued admittance to a LLM program. “Completing a LLM program in Environmental Law in a globally well-recognized law school, such as Pace, was a long-time dream of mine. Being admitted to Pace Law, with a generous scholarship, was one of the brightest moments of my life.” 

Júlio fondly remembers his experience in the LLM program at Pace. “At the beginning of my studies, as a native Portuguese speaker, with English and French being my second languages, I was nervous as to how I would keep up. However, I was so lucky to have such amazing professors who guided me along the way.”

While at Pace, Júlio took classes in International Environmental Law taught by Professor Nicholas Robinson. “This is a highly complex legal field that requires an outstanding scholar, such as Professor Robinson to teach it properly. It was an honor to be taught by an internationally leading icon in the field.” Júlio also took classes in administrative law and environmental law, both with Professor Margot Pollans. He describes these two courses as “fundamental” for his understanding about the legal reasoning and methodology of environmental law and policy in the United States. “Professor Pollans was such a dedicated professor and I am so grateful to her. I enjoyed every moment of her classes.”

Part of the LLM program at Pace Law is completing a significant thesis. “The thesis aspect of the degree is time-consuming and intellectually challenging, I do not feel as though I could have completed the program without the guidance of Professor David Cassuto. He was my guide, my reference, throughout the entire LLM program. And, he was my academic supervisor. I wrote my thesis, which was for 6 credits, on a particularly controversial and challenging subject:  the risks of cost-benefit analysis for environmental regulation in Brazil. Professor Cassuto’s ongoing support, during the thesis process and generally, was fundamental to my successful journey at Pace.”

Rounding out his experience at Pace Law were the relationships that Júlio built with his LLM classmates, both American and foreign.  “We shared ideas and learned from one another’s personal experiences. We also all had the wonderful opportunity to study law in the perfect atmosphere that is the Pace Law campus. The entire experience was unforgettable.”

After concluding his LLM at Pace in January 2018, Júlio returned to Brazil and a few short months later and became an associate attorney with the Brazilian EPA’s General Counsel Office. “In this position, I have been leading a division responsible for all national legal strategies and intelligence service on environmental litigation on behalf of the federal agency.”

Júlio remains in touch with many of his fellow LLM classmates and the faculty at Pace Law. “Pace Law has an international reputation for their LLM program and many contacts in Brazil and all over.” When asked if he had advice for any current or future international LLM students, Júlio simply states, “Go to Pace Law! You will receive a one of a kind legal education and learn more than you imagined. The professors and your classmates are your support system and will help you accomplish the goals you set out for yourself.”

A Passion for Immigration Law

W. Paul Alvarez, '16

W. Paul Alvarez’s (’16) passion for immigration law is rooted in his own immigration story. Paul was born in Ecuador and later became a naturalized citizen of the United States. "My parents believed that the best chance we had for a better life was to immigrate to the United States. We wanted a chance to live the ‘American Dream’ that we had heard so much about. Therefore, my family settled in New York and we assimilated quickly. However, as assimilated as we were, we were still living unlawfully in this country. My father knew that the key to our survival was to obtain lawful status that would allow us to live freely in this country. Through an employment sponsorship, my father was able to obtain permanent resident status for our family. I knew at that moment that our life had changed because becoming a permanent resident of the United States would open so many different opportunities for my family. There and then I knew that I wanted to help other immigrants achieve the ‘American Dream’ that I was blessed to have been given."

From that point, every educational step that Paul took was with the motivation to become someone who could help others achieve their "American Dream" as he and his family had achieved theirs. Attending SUNY Oneonta, Paul was a political science and Spanish major. He was frequently on the Dean’s List, a member of the pre-law society and President of the fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon. "I knew that my ultimate journey would be law school."

After receiving his Bachelor’s degree, Paul decided to help run his family owned business, Alvarez Cleaning Service, Inc. To date, he has served as an owner, manager, and bookkeeper for the company. In 2016 he was awarded Business Person of the Year by the Pleasantville Chamber of Commerce. While still working for his family business, Paul also applied for and was offered a paralegal position at Julie Mullaney Attorney at Law, a small law firm in Westchester, focusing on immigration law. "It was great experience. I was able to see what an immigration attorney did from A to Z, ranging from larger issues to day-to-day issues. And, most importantly, it re-solidified my desire to attend law school and become an immigration attorney."

As for choosing Pace Law – "it just made sense," and had everything Paul was looking for – from location in Westchester, but close to New York City to a top-notch immigration law program featuring practical and classroom learning. While at Pace, Paul immersed himself in as much as he was able. "I was a member of the Pace Law Advocacy Honor Board as the Director of Internal Competitions; I participated in every oral advocacy competition that I was able – from immigration, to criminal law, to sports arbitration. I was the president and one of the founding members of the Immigration Law Student Organization, Vice-President of the Public Interest Law Student Organization and the Vice President of the Latin American Law Students Association, a representative for BARBRI, and Admissions Ambassador and Mentor, part of the Faculty-Student band, and player on the Pace intramural soccer team. I looked at every opportunity as a way to broaden my perspective and meet new people. And, I was fortunate to have so many opportunities."

Significantly, while Paul was at Pace he was a student attorney with the Pace Criminal Justice Clinic and the Pace Immigration Justice Clinic. He gained practical, hands-on, real-life, attorney experience through both of these opportunities. "I was doing things in these Clinics that most law students experience for the first time only as admitted attorneys. It was fascinating." His three most influential professors in law school were Vanessa Merton, David Dorfman and Lou Fasulo because each one of them taught him so many important lessons on becoming a zealous attorney that he will carry on for the rest of his career.

Today, Paul is an Associate Attorney at the office of Julie Mullaney Attorney at Law, the same firm that gave him his start as a paralegal before attending Law School. "I have worked in the immigration field as a paralegal, law clerk, and now an attorney for the last ten years. I have experience representing detained and non-detained clients in a variety of immigration matters. While working in the immigration field, one recurring theme that I have observed is the lack of knowledge that immigrants have regarding their rights. It is sad and frustrating to see that the lives of many immigrants are put in jeopardy because they either did not understand the gravity of their situation or they were taken advantage of by "notarios" who prey on the vulnerability of immigrants. My mission has been to guide my clients in the complex immigration matters and to coordinate community outreach programs that inform immigrants about their rights and opportunities for immigration relief. In this very difficult immigration climate, I’m willing to do everything that I can to keep families together."

Paul is also involved in various legal organizations – he is a member of the New York State Bar Association and the Westchester County Bar Association. Within the New York Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) he has served as the Secretary of the Student Liaison Committee and is also a member of the Citizenship Day Committee and a member of the UPL and Ethics Committee.

In his spare time, Paul enjoys spending time with his family and friends. He is die-hard Yankee fan who also roots for the NY Giants and Rangers. He is enjoys playing in recreational soccer and kickball leagues.

A Passion for Social Justice

Ryan Koleda, '16

A Q&A with Ryan Koleda '16, Staff Attorney, The Legal Aid Society Juvenile Rights Practice

Why did you choose Pace?

I chose Pace because of the positive reputation of the public interest law center and the hands-on learning experience it offered. I went into law school only wanting to practice in the public interest field. Pace had amazing clinics, including the Immigration Justice Clinic, where I worked as a student attorney my last year of law school.

Were you always interested in public interest work?

For as long as I can remember, I have been attracted to the public interest field. In college I studied social work and sociology. After college, I didn’t quite know how I wanted to apply my passion for social justice to my future career. But I went to law school knowing this would be the avenue to do just that. Through law school, I discovered how I wanted to practice and apply the law through public interest work.

What specific experiences Pace Law do you feel helped to prepare you for a career in public interest law?

Will you believe me if I say that all of my experiences at Pace prepared me for my career in public interest law? I went into law school knowing that I wanted to practice in the public interest field, so I tailored as many experiences as I could to that goal. The summer after my first year, I interned for a Nassau County Family Court judge who presided over custody and child protective cases. My second year, I participated in the year-long Federal Judicial Honors Program. The first semester consisted of a guided research and writing assignment where I met one-on-one with a professor to write a mock decision for a federal case. The second semester I interned for a Judge in the Southern District of New York where I applied those research and writing skills. The summer after my second year, I interned for a non-profit organization that represents children in custody and visitation cases in family court. Under the supervision of two staff attorneys, I was able to appear and practice in court as well as interview clients. My last year of law school I participated in a Civil Rights Externship and the Immigration Justice Clinic. The Civil Rights Externship through the law firm Newman Ferrara with Professors Cohen and McLaughlin provided me with experience in research, writing, discovery, trial preparation, and client contact. Through the Immigration Justice Clinic, with Professor Merton, I gained practical experience both in and out of court. Under her guidance, we took the lead on our cases. We did our own research, writing, interviews, and appearances in court.

What was your most memorable law school experience?

My favorite law school experience was spending spring break my 3L year in Dilley, Texas. Through the Immigration Justice Clinic and the CARA Pro Bono Project, we were able to volunteer at the South Texas Family Residential Center where the government detained women and children who entered the US at the southern border. We prepared women and children for their credible fear interviews, the first step in an asylum claim. In addition to preparing these families for their interviews, we also kept track of stories and data regarding the conditions of the detention facility and how these families were being treated.

How did the Public Interest Law Center guide you along the way during your time at Pace?

The Public Interest Law Center was incredibly helpful in preparing me for my career in public interest law. The summer after my 2L year, I interned at a non-profit organization that represents children in family court. Through the PILC Public Interest Summer Fellowship, I obtained funding in order to pay for my expenses that summer. During my 3L year, I participated in a mentorship program offered by Career Services. We were matched with alumni who practiced in the fields we were interested in post law school. My mentor not only practiced in family law representing children, but also worked for the organization I had my eyes set on. Also, throughout the application process for The Legal Aid Society Juvenile Rights Practice, during my 3L year, I went through rounds of application review with Career Services and prepared with them before each interview. I felt completely supported by PILC faculty and staff as I faced the daunting task of three rounds of interviews.

What has your career path been since graduation?        

Since graduation and taking the bar, I have been working at The Legal Aid Society Juvenile Rights Practice as a staff attorney representing children in abuse and neglect cases in the Bronx. State law mandates that every subject child of a child protective proceeding is assigned a lawyer. If a child can make a knowing, considered, and voluntary judgment, we provide zealous direct advocacy for that child. Children in child protective proceedings are constantly being told what’s best for them by most adults in their life whether it be the government or a relative or a teacher or a judge. We empower children to use their voices and advocate on their behalf. In systems that constantly try to silence them, we come alongside them through empathy and empowerment.

What do you find most rewarding about working in public interest law?

The best part of working in public interest law is knowing that I am using my degree and skills towards social justice. There are times where it is disheartening to think that litigating individual cases does not quickly bring about the major reform that is needed within such a broken system. However, after every victory, no matter how small, I realize how important it is to have empowered a youth to have a voice. I also realize that every small step forward, is still an important step forward to accomplish change, and I know that the work that I do helps contribute to that.

In your opinion, what qualities makes a “good” public interest lawyer?

Public interest lawyers need commitment to the work they are doing, but also the willingness to stretch and grow their understanding for the populations they are working with. They need a self-awareness to understand that they have limitations in understanding the people they are working with who are, in fact, people.  The ability to separate and self-care is also incredibly important. Sometimes you need to remember that taking thirty minutes to yourself or putting that motion down for the night will make you better and more capable of completing the tasks later. The work will always be there, so in order to sustain your ability to continue to do the work and not burn out, it’s important to take care of yourself.

Aside from your work as an attorney, what do you like to do in your free time?

In line with my self-care mantra, one of my favorite ways to destress and take time away is to work at Comic Cons. I am lucky enough to have several close friends who run and work at different Comic Cons around the world. Because of this I am able to step away a few times a year, be around friends and immerse myself in an entirely different atmosphere that is so far removed from public interest law. After these weekends I often feel refreshed and ready to dive back into my work. And I’ve gotten to meet some pretty cool people along the way.

A Rewarding Career

Hannah Walker, '17

Pace Law graduate Hannah Walker (Dec. ’17) did not always know that she wanted to be a lawyer, however, she did always know she wanted to work in the non-profit sector. “Once I learned more about the law and how you can use it as a tool to help people, I was immediately drawn to it. Then, once I started law school, I found my passion focusing on LGBTQ and prisoner rights law.”  

During her time at Pace Law, Hannah participated in several internships. “The Public Interest Law Center was very helpful in providing me with summer funding for these otherwise unpaid internships. PILC made it possible for me to pursue what I was passionate about. One summer, I interned with the Urban Justice Center, it was after this experience that I doubled down on my efforts to take courses that would give me substantive knowledge of the areas of law that I knew would be helpful for me post-grad. I also put together my own internship with the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP). I continued volunteering at SRLP after my internship.” While Hannah was at Pace, she also worked closely with Professor Michael Mushlin as a research assistant. She took Professor Mushlin’s prisoners’ rights class and became passionate about this area and, later, took on an internship with a former Pace graduate doing post-conviction relief.  

Hannah has found certain skills are critical in her work with clients who have survived trauma and who face systemic oppression.  “Excellent listening skills and the ability to empathize with your clients while recognizing your inherent power in the attorney/client relationship . . . are really, really, really important.” 

In December of 2017, Hannah graduated from Pace Law and she took the bar exam in February 2018. “I knew that I wanted to work at SRLP and had been vying for a position there since my internship. Once a position opened up, I applied for it and got it and have been there since. I am the Director of the Survival and Self-Determination Project.”  

Hannah recognizes that students pursuing public interest law often do so in the face of a “pervasive belief that direct service lawyering isn't prestigious or glamorous” and is “so happy [she] stuck with [her] convictions.” Today, the most rewarding part of public interest law for Hannah is working with her clients.  “It is really satisfying to use my skills to help make people’s days better. I am committed to using my knowledge and my privilege to support communities who do not always have access to legal relief. There is a real sense of community working with other direct service attorneys. I am lucky, I get to go home every day knowing that I have done something to make things easier for someone. Public interest lawyering is critical to our democracy. We need to do this work to ensure that all members of our communities can live and thrive.”

A Wealth of Opportunities

Robert Stout, '05

As an undergraduate student Robert Stout (’05) attended Siena College.  It was there he received his Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, in History Education, in pursuit of a career in secondary education and was awarded the History Department’s Major Field Award at graduation.  However, among the opportunities afforded Rob at Siena was a summer spent interning with the Environmental Litigation Clinic at Pace Law.  It was this experience that encouraged Rob to apply to only one law school once he decided that was the path he wanted his career to take – Pace Law.  “Studying with Professors Karl Coplan and Bobby Kennedy was amazing.  In one summer they integrated students into the sophisticated matters handled by the Clinic and in so doing, demystified law school for the undergraduate interns and demonstrated first hand the impact environmental attorneys can have.” 

So, in 2002, Rob began his studies at Pace.  After completing his first year course requirements, he selected a variety of environmental law courses to pursue and began aggressively pursuing educational opportunities outside of the classroom.  He was elected by his peers to be the Editor-in-Chief of the Pace Environmental Law Review. “I knew that I wanted to graduate with a Certificate in Environmental Law so I pursued every path that would get me to that destination.  Pace provided a wealth of opportunities to develop my skills and distinguish myself prior to graduating.” 

Rob notes that one of his favorite memories was being selected for the trial advocacy team as a 1L.  “I was a late substitute, and was eliminated early in the competition, however, I returned as part of the School’s inaugural Negotiation Competition in my second year.  Professor Lou Fasulo coached my partner and me to the National Championship and we went on to represent the U.S. (and place very highly) at the International Negotiation Competition in Paris.  Negotiating with counterparts from different cultural and language backgrounds was an invaluable experience.  In practice, I draw on the same skills utilized during the Negotiation Competition on a daily basis.  It was thrilling to be a small part of building Pace’s advocacy program with Professor Fasulo.”

Rob‘s success at the Negotiation Competition encouraged him to successfully run for American Bar Association (“ABA”) Law Student Division Delegate to the ABA House of Delegates, the policy making body of the ABA.  “As a Division Delegate I was able to work with law students across the country – many of whom I maintain connections with to this day. I also had the opportunity to lobby the executive leadership of the ABA on governance issues of importance to law students and lobby Congress on issues of importance to law students, including the opportunity to meet with then Senator Obama.”

After graduating from law school, Rob pursued a career in environmental law.  Rob began his career focusing on brownfield redevelopment projects in New Jersey.  In 2010, he returned to Albany, an area to which he had developed close ties during his tenure as an undergraduate at Siena.  Rob joined his current firm - Whiteman Osterman & Hanna LLP in 2010 and became a partner this year.  He advises clients on all aspects of environmental law with a focus on counseling clients on environmental regulatory compliance and enforcement.  “I help clients resolve enforcement proceedings and consent order negotiations before a variety of State and federal agencies.  I also counsel clients seeking state and municipal environmental and land use permits, from site plans and subdivisions before local planning boards to serving as environmental co-counsel on the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project team for the New York State Thruway Authority.  My day-to-day is never the same and always interesting.”

Rob is also very involved with various legal and professional organizations.  As a result of Rob’s early and active involvement in the ABA as a law student, he quickly rose through the ranks of the ABA Real Property Trust and Estate Law Section and now serves as Vice Chair of the Section’s Land Use and Environmental Law Group.  Rob has held leadership positions for the better part of a decade.  “My involvement with the ABA is a great source of professional pride to me and my frequent lecturing at ABA and other professional events allows me to utilize the educational skills that Siena provided.”  Rob also serves on the Executive Committee of the Environmental Law Section of the New York State Bar Association and is the author of a regular column on DEC Administrative decisions appearing in The New York Environmental Lawyer

Volunteering is also a large part of who Rob is as a person and an attorney.  He served for over a decade as a volunteer fire fighter and fire company business officer.  He recently served as a Board member of the Historic Albany Foundation, volunteers for the Albany Institute of History and Art, and works with his neighbors in the Village of Round Lake to assist in preserving the 1847 Ferris organ located in the Round Lake Auditorium, a National Historic Landmark.  Rob shares the credit for this work with his firm “Whiteman Osterman and Hanna has a fabulous tradition of supporting volunteer and pro bono work in the community.  Each attorney is provided with the resources and time to pursue community goals important to them.  It is a critical aspect of firm culture.”  

Pace remains an integral part of Rob’s life.  His firm (which includes several partners and associates who are Pace alumni) has hosted gatherings for Albany based Pace Law alumni and it is a tradition that he hopes continues. “There are Pace alumni across the Country.  It is important to maintain these networks and encourage them. I enjoy connecting with fellow alumni and helping other alumni connect with one another.  I also enjoy mentoring Pace students and actively recruiting them to work at our firm.  We have been quite successful in attracting high caliber students from Pace.”

Rob lives in the Village of Round Lake with his wife Audrey (and, he is quick to note, their rabbit Stewart).  In 2013, Rob was accepted into the membership of the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, an international cultural and educational organization dedicated to the celebration of Burgundy and its wines.  When not working as an attorney, Rob enjoys pursuing his passion of travelling to and studying the world’s wine regions and taking advantage of all of the recreational opportunities available in upstate New York.   

 

An Alternative Career

Kate L. Harrison, '08

Kate L. Harrison (’08) is an author, a communications and marketing expert, a consultant, a business owner, an entrepreneur, and a graduate from Pace Law and the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

At Pace, Kate was a member of the Pace Environmental Law Review and participated in the federal judicial honors program. “In addition to amazing, knowledgeable and dedicated professors like Professor Ann Powers (who taught me how to accurately calculate effluent levels) and Professor Don Doernberg (who turned civil procedure into one of my favorite classes with his enthusiasm for the topic), Pace had so much to offer in terms of experiential learning. Through the judicial externship program, I was able to work directly with Judge Stefan Underhill and see what clerking was like. The Pace network also connected me one summer with Sive, Paget, & Riesel, a boutique environmental law firm in New York, where I was able to experience life in private practice.”

While still a student at Pace, Kate was hard at work writing what would become a best-selling green wedding book, The Green Bride Guide. From there, she went on to found the leading green wedding website in the country. “It was something I was extremely passionate about. Once I started planning my own wedding, and wanted to do so sustainably, I realized there were few resources to help me. From there, I started writing the book and developing the website.”  After helping over 2 million brides “go green” – Kate sold the company to mywedding.com in 2014. “I still run a green wedding professional certification class and am still extremely passionate about green wedding planning. It is the country’s first Green Wedding Professional Certification Course administered online and at colleges throughout the United States. ”

Currently, Kate runs a branding and marketing firm, Kate L. Harrison Consulting, offering communication, branding and content marketing services to sustainable businesses, startups, nonprofits and government organizations. “Green technology and going green remain passions of mine. In everything I do, I have in mind the most sustainable way to do it. I like to work on projects that make the world better in some tangible way.”

Most recently, Kate collaborated with her father, Henry S. Harrison, who is a leading Real Estate author in the country.  Kate’s father, Henry, previously wrote a book called Houses: The Illustrated Guide to Construction, Design and Systems. “Given the current trends, I thought it would be fun to make a coloring book out of my father’s original book to bring the content to a younger and wider audience. As a result, we just released the first edition, which covers Early American and Victorian homes. The name of the book is Houses, Houses, Houses Coloring Book: Vol. 1: Early American Styles. We designed the book with a variety of audiences in mind, from real estate professionals, to house lovers, to architecture students, homebuyers, and individuals looking for a fun and unique house-warming gift.”

As a “non-traditional” law graduate, in terms of her career, Kate values her law degree and it has benefitted her tremendously as an entrepreneur.  “While I ended up pursuing an entrepreneurial path after law school instead of practicing, I still credit Pace with really teaching me how to dissect problems and lay out logical step-by-step solutions, which is a process I use daily as a branding and marketing consultant. My clients, like plaintiffs, often come to me with a messy story and a rough idea of what they need and my job is to look at the overall picture, their goals, and the marketplace and advise them on what I think their best course of action is. I love the work and appreciate the tools Pace gave me to do it.”

Kate lives in Southern Maryland with her husband Barry and their two children, Sterling (age 6) and Clio (age 3). In her free time, she enjoys baking, painting, exploring new business ventures, traveling, and Zumba. Kate’s advice for future law students? “Explore your passions and lead a balanced life.”

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