Success Stories

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 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.”

An Amazing Experience

Nicole Harkin, '05

Nicole Harkin (’05) attended college at Purdue University where she studied Political Science, German, and Geology. After graduating from Purdue, Nicole pursued opportunities working in government oversight. “I knew at Purdue I was interested in graduate school, but I didn't know what to study. After graduation, I interned for Senator Conrad Burns, R-MT, and then eventually landed as an investigator at the Project on Government Oversight (POGO). While working there, I wrote a report about a uranium mill tailings pile outside of Moab, Utah and as part of my work I read Riverkeepers by former Pace Law professor Robert F. Kennedy. That book set me on the track to Pace."

“My time at Pace was an amazing experience filled with so many different opportunities.” As a Fulbright Scholar during law school, Nicole lived in Berlin, Germany where she studied German environmentalism.    Nicole also had the opportunity to serve as a legal intern with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. “It was so hands on. I became familiar with case investigation, trial preparation, document review, and legal research.”

Despite having a myriad of positive experiences in law school, Nicole describes herself as “the rare law student who realized very soon after starting law school that I did not want to work as a lawyer. The training I received remained relevant to my plans: improved critical thinking skills and excellent writing practice. I continued with law school and am pleased that I did because of the opportunities the experience afforded me.”

At the top of Nicole’s list of experiences while at Pace include traveling with the environmental law program to Brazil and the support and encouragement she received from the Law School, in particular from Professor Linda Fentiman and late staff member Vielka Holness to apply for the Fulbright two years in a row. “The community feeling at Pace Law is not just a feeling, but a reality. I felt supported in all the choices I made as a student about the various paths I wanted to pursue.”

Nicole also fondly remembers her time spent organizing the Environmental Moot Court Competition with a committee of other students. “Today, I remain close friends with the same people who I was on the committee with! It was a wonderful experience that we all still talk about and have in common.”

After graduating from Pace, Nicole spent an additional year in Berlin as a Bosch Fellow researching German’s Freedom of Information Act. She found the work fascinating and loved the experience of living in Germany.

After returning from Germany, Nicole was selected to be a Presidential Management Fellow (PMF). She worked for the U.S. Treasury in Washington, D.C. as an Intelligence Analyst and then Sanctions Investigator. Then, in 2008, she obtained a position as an analyst with the U.S. Government Accountability Office in D.C. “These positions allowed me to focus on the aspects of government and the law that I enjoyed – research, investigating, analysis, and writing.”

It was in 2012, that Nicole made the jump to full-time small business owner. She photographs families on the weekend and during the week writes. “Writing a book was something that was always a long-term goal of mine. It is a full-time job and once I made the switch to treating it as such I was able to publish my first book in June of 2017 - Tilting, A Memoir. And, currently, I am writing a murder mystery set in Berlin, Death in Berlin.” You can read the first chapter of Nicole’s memoir, Tilting, at www.tiltingamemoir.com.

Nicole is also a small business owner. She describes herself as a natural-light photographer. “I love capturing memories for people – families, couples, individuals. Each shoot I do is unique in its own way.” You can look at some of Nicole's photography at www.nicoleharkin.com.

In her spare time, Nicole enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and coffee! As for advice to current and future law students, “Even if you feel like you may have made a mistake attending law school or a traditional attorney career is not for you – think it through carefully. The way you learn to think during law school is unique – you will learn analytical skills that you could not learn otherwise.”

An Expert Multi-Tasker

Susan Payne Mulliken, Dec. '10

Susan Payne Mulliken (Dec. ’10) is an expert multi-tasker – she is an attorney with three young daughters (Erin, 8; Clare, 5; and Kelly, 2) – and her expertise in juggling work and family was first honed at Pace Law.  “I had my first daughter, Erin, while I was still a student at Pace Law, during the summer between my 2L and 3L years. After her birth, I did switch to part-time, but did not take any time off and graduated just one semester after my class. I was very motivated to stay on track and the Pace Law faculty and staff were very supportive and encouraging. They helped make the challenges of balancing motherhood and law school manageable and possible.”

While some students head to law school directly from undergraduate school that was not the case for Susan. After graduating magna cum laude from The College of Saint Rose with a B.A. in Psychology, Susan moved to New York City. In the City she worked in television production, including with HBO and Nickelodeon –meeting her future husband during her work at Nickelodeon. From there, Susan moved to California to attend graduate school at San Diego State University. After graduating with her Masters in Communication, Susan worked as an adjunct professor at three different colleges in San Diego. Shortly thereafter, she moved back to New York City and began working at Long Island University-Brooklyn as an academic advisor and adjunct instructor. After working at LIU for about two years, Susan decided to apply to law school. “In the back of my mind, I had always thought about law school. Finally, I decided it was now or never.  I left my job in August of 2007 and started at Pace Law that fall.”

Pace offers a myriad of opportunities to gain practical experience and Susan took advantage of as many as possible. During the summer after her 1L year she interned for Family Court Judge Sandra B. Edlitz and also spent time as a research assistant for Professor Leslie Garfield. In the fall of 2008 she was an extern in the Pace Women’s Justice Center’s Family Court Legal Program and also a student worker in the Office of Student Services. In 2010, after having Erin and with the encouragement and assistance of the Pace Law Career Services staff, Susan applied for and was a recipient of the competitive Charles H. Revson Law Student Public Interest Fellowship summer grant. This funding allowed Susan to accept an unpaid summer internship with the New York State Division of Human Rights while also providing Erin with quality child care. “There were so many opportunities and I wanted to make sure I gained as much real life experience as possible before graduating. Each experience for me was one step closer to figuring out what I wanted to potentially do once I was an attorney and what I did not. Professionally at Pace, my favorite experience was the Pace Women’s Justice Center’s Family Court Legal Program externship. I learned so much by speaking with clients and filing petitions and going before the judge, lessons that can’t be learned in the classroom. I also learned so much through FCLP Director Tracey Alter and the staff attorneys, volunteers, and other student externs.”

Following graduation and while awaiting admission to the bar, Susan’s job hunt intensified and became more focused. “I realized that what I really wanted to do was to return to the field of higher education but in a legal capacity. I began to apply to any relevant position, hoping that it would eventually lead me to a job within a General Counsel’s office at a college. In June of 2012, Susan’s passion for multi-tasking continued when she started a position in contract management at Mercy College within the School of Health and Natural Sciences (SHNS) and gave birth to her second daughter, Clare, three weeks later. “I couldn’t believe that I ended up finding my opportunity right as I was about to give birth to my second daughter but I was motivated to make it work and was very excited by yet another set of challenges.” Exactly two weeks after Clare was born, Susan was admitted to the New York State Bar.

At Mercy, Susan performed contract review, negotiation, and administration for the SHNS. “I managed all phases of the contract approval process for clinical affiliation agreements. I was in the position for over three years and learned a great deal about contracts. I was also able to learn about other legal issues within an institution of higher education.”  In 2015, Susan gave birth to her third daughter, Kelly, and also began her current position as Assistant General Counsel at Mercy College. In this position, Susan reviews and negotiates a larger variety of contracts including clinical affiliation agreements, software and library licensing agreements, consulting services agreements, non-disclosure agreements, sponsored program research agreements, among others, and also works closely with the risk management team in dealing with insurance and liability-related issues. “I feel very fortunate to be in my current position and am learning all the time. I absolutely love the energy and vibrancy of a college campus and the multitude and complexity of issues that occur every day. I’ve also had the opportunity to attend the National Association of College and University Attorneys Annual Conference and have really enjoyed meeting and learning from peers from schools all over the country.”

As the mother of three young daughters, Susan’s top priority is attempting to maintain a healthy work/life balance. “I am fortunate to have an amazing support network comprised of my husband Nate, my parents, family and friends and an amazing day care facility and a very family-friendly employer. I am also lucky that an outstanding summer day camp program operates on Mercy’s campus that Erin has attended the past three summers and that both Erin and Clare will attend next summer.”

Susan looks fondly on her days at Pace Law and will always remember the support she received from the faculty and staff as she struggled to navigate law school, motherhood, and job searching “especially the late Professor Ralph Stein, who I miss every day, Professor Tracey Alter, and Professor Leslie Garfield, who always went above and beyond. I’m not sure I’d be where I am today without the three of them.” A few of Susan’s favorite memories at Pace Law are ones that many Pace alumni will be able to relate to, including: “having lunch with Professor Stein in the cafeteria, studying in the library with the same crew of regulars who always sat in the same area as me, and the annual Earth Day event on the lawn, which was one of the few times I actually relaxed and socialized with people outside of the library! I even brought Erin to Earth Day when she was eight months old and she was a big hit with both my classmates and the faculty and staff. Who knows? Maybe one day she’ll be back at Pace as a 1L!”

An Influential Education

Lauren Stabile, '09

Lauren Stabile (’09) graduated from NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies and a minor in Fine Arts. In these areas of study, Lauren was able to develop her verbal and written communication skills, while simultaneously studying media, culture, and communication theory and analysis, using sociological, political, and historical frameworks. Additionally, throughout her undergraduate experience, Lauren was actively involved in the initiation and implementation of various community service programs. Then, after learning that she had accumulated enough credits in high school to graduate from NYU a year early, Lauren decided that a law degree, coupled with her enhanced communication skills, would aid her in pursuing a service-oriented career.

Lauren applied to and was accepted at Pace Law.  Immediately after beginning law school, Lauren immersed herself in a variety of opportunities, seeking out those that would be the best fit for her skill set and personality.  She was treasurer and then vice president of the Health Law Society, a Westlaw student representative, and a member of the Women’s Association of Law Students. Academically, Lauren excelled as Managing Editor of the Pace Environmental Law Review, and also earned her Environmental Law Certificate.  She was also a Dean’s Scholar, a recipient of an Academic Achievement Scholarship during the entirety of her time at Pace, and part of the 1L Land Use Honors Program.

While at Pace, Lauren thoroughly enjoyed her classes and formed positive relationships with many professors.  “It is difficult for me to pick a favorite professor because I was fortunate to have so many exceptional teachers and mentors while I was at Pace.  Each professor provided me with a different tool that helped me excel while I was at Pace and thereafter.”  Lauren pursued her interests in research, writing, and education, by working for two exceptional faculty members; Lauren applied and was chosen to be a Research Assistant for then Dean Michelle Simon and also for Professor Luis Chiesa.

After completing her first year of law school, during the summer of 2007, Lauren was a Judicial Intern with the Westchester County Surrogate’s Court in the 9th Judicial District right in White Plains.  In this position, she was responsible for drafting decisions emanating from probate proceedings, reviewing motions, pleadings, and performing research. “It was a very hands-on learning experience, with great mentors – I was lucky to have had this opportunity – particularly so early on.”

Presented with another opportunity, after completing the fall semester of her 2L year, Lauren began as a Charities Bureau legal extern with the New York State Office of the Attorney General.  It was a position that lasted from January through April and Lauren conducted extensive legal research and wrote memoranda on issues involving not-for-profit organizations and private foundations.

In her last summer as a law student, Lauren decided that she wanted to summer at a law firm, to counterbalance her public interest/government work.  Ultimately, she chose to spend a summer as an associate with Cuddy & Feder LLP.  While having a wonderful experience at this firm, by the end of that summer, Lauren realized that her passions remained with public interest/government work.

By the fall of 2008, Lauren was nearly certain of what she wanted to do post-graduation, so she applied to be a legal intern with the New York County District Attorney’s Office and was accepted. When Lauren graduated from Pace in May 2009, she attributed her steadfast knowledge of what she wanted to do to a specific Pace professor.  “No one was quite as influential as Professor Carol Barry.  Professor Barry’s Prosecution Externship Program allowed me to realize that my passions and skillset were best matched for prosecution and investigative work, and, with her support, I was able to leave Pace and start an incredibly gratifying career in these areas.”

After graduation, Lauren began her career with the prestigious New York County District Attorney’s Office. She spent the first five years of her career from 2009 through 2014 in the Trial Division.  While in a trial bureau, Lauren handled cases involving domestic violence, larcenies, narcotics, identity theft, and various other misdemeanor and felony matters.  While at the DA’s Office, Lauren was also selected to join the Sex Crimes Unit and from February 2014 until she left the DA’s office in March 2015, Lauren was appointed to join the Child Abuse Unit in the Special Victims Bureau.  In this role, Lauren investigated and prosecuted crimes involving serious physical and sexual abuse of children 13 years old or younger.  Throughout her time at the District Attorney’s Office, Lauren had a number of hearings and trials and honed her advocacy, case management, and investigative skills.  Lauren described her time as a prosecutor as, “Incredibly rewarding; I learned more than I could have ever imagined and worked with amazing people.”

In 2015, Lauren took an opportunity to rejoin her undergraduate alma mater, NYU.  She joined NYU as a Title IX Investigator for NYU’s Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO), and was recently promoted to Deputy Title IX Coordinator.  In this capacity, Lauren is primarily responsible for investigating and overseeing matters pertaining to allegations of sexual assault, harassment, stalking, and dating/domestic violence, pursuant to the University policy. “I am really enjoying my role with NYU.  I am able to use my investigative background to look into allegations of misconduct. I also use the research, writing, and verbal skills that I honed at both NYU and Pace Law, on a daily basis, in multiple aspects of my job. Additionally, I get to serve my local community by developing and conducting prevention programs, educational workshops, and trainings, as well as participate in a variety of initiatives University-wide.”

Lauren notes that “there is so much you can do with a law degree.” Lauren is a great example - she went from an Assistant District Attorney to having a career in investigations and compliance within a University.  “If I could give advice to current and future Pace Law students, I would tell them that law school is challenging - particularly the first year.  I know this is common knowledge, but allow yourself to believe it, and do not let these obstacles discourage you.  Highs and lows are a part of the experience, but the time goes by quickly.  When it is over, you will walk away with treasured friendships, a powerful degree, and invaluable knowledge.”

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