Success Stories

Haub Alumni of the Month: The Alumni Board

Leading by Example

Recently, students in Haub Law’s Dannat Hall residence were quarantined due to positive COVID-19 cases. The Alumni Board, led by its president, Mark Meeker, responded to outreach by Student Services to connect with the students. Working closely with Student Services and the Development team at the Law School, Mark was provided with a list of all of the students living in the residence hall along with their email addresses. Mark emailed all residents, letting them know the alumni are thinking of them and then he distributed all of the names to the Alumni Board officers and committee chairs and asked them to send an email, too. Not stopping there, the Board also funded $10 gift certificates from a local vendor for each student. Student Services and Development also coordinated the creation and delivery of gift bags complete with not only the gift certificates, but a gift from the Office of Student Services on the last day of quarantine. Mark notes, “We are all part of the same Pace family. The Board wanted to let the students know that we were thinking of them and were available to encourage and help them, not just during this tough period but throughout their law school journey and beyond.”

Haub Alumni of the Month: Tarini Mehta SJD '19

A Vibrant Learning Atmosphere

SJD graduate, Tarini Mehta ’19, was recently appointed as an Assistant Professor and Assistant Dean of Student Affairs at the O. P. Jindal Global University's School of Environment and Sustainability. Tarini notes that “[t]his is a new multi-disciplinary school offering an innovative program covering law, policy and science related to environmental conservation, sustainable development and climate change.” She will be teaching courses on environmental law, as well as the intersection between human rights and the environment. 

Tarini feels that her time at Pace enriched her in so many ways. “The time I spent at Pace has been a most memorable period of my life. The professors with whom I had the privilege of being associated nurtured my intellectual growth and helped deepen my research for my SJD thesis. The wonderful friends I made have filled my life with warmth and kindness.” In particular, the time and guidance she received from Professor Nicholas Robinson, as her SJD supervisor, were especially notable for Tarini. “We would meet almost every week to discuss my thesis. This helped crystallise my ideas and fine-tune my research. With his motivation and guidance, I was able to complete my SJD thesis in a year. I would not have been able to do this without his belief in me. Professor Robinson has been a source of great inspiration for me and I am truly privileged to have had him as my doctoral supervisor.”

While completing her SJD, Tarini also worked with the Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature in New York, during which time she attended sessions at the United Nations and worked on side events organized during the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in July 2019 and the UN High-Level Week in September 2019. This gave Tarini a first-hand understanding of international environmental diplomacy.

“Pace provides a vibrant learning atmosphere, and very interesting extra-curricular and career development activities and projects that help hone the skills of its students, leading them closer to achieving their career goals. It is one of the best places to study environmental law and develop an understanding of the subject and skills involved in this area of law. It equips students to contribute most effectively to conservation and sustainable development. I am forever grateful for my experiences at Pace and the ways in which they led me to where I am in my career today.”

TariniTarini Mehta

Haub Alumni of the Month: Hiroko Muraki Gottlieb '99

From student to alumni to attorney to professor

Hiroko Muraki Gottlieb is a 1999 Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University alumna who graduated with a certificate in environmental law. Hiroko teaches the Law of Oceans & Coasts seminar and advises on guided research at Haub Law as an adjunct professor.

A Q&A with Hiroko Muraki Gottlieb

You are an adjunct professor at Haub Law teaching Law of Oceans & Coasts seminar – how did that come about?

I was invited to teach the seminar, which was supposed to be taught by two faculty from Norway. They had to cancel at the last minute due to travel restrictions caused by the pandemic. The seminar was originally scheduled to accommodate the visiting professors’ availability, so 26 hours of complex course materials were condensed into one week! It was quite intense, but I really enjoyed designing and teaching the seminar.

What was the best part about teaching the seminar?

I loved engaging with my students, learning from their questions and their thoughts. I invited colleagues whom I really respect and admire - including leading scientists, scholars and distinguished diplomats - to participate in the seminar as guest lecturers. I felt that it was important for lawyers, especially those just starting their legal careers, to hear from professionals whose job is to facilitate better ocean governance. The knowledge gained by my students from engaging with those who are involved in cutting edge science or who are part of the policy and law-making process was invaluable.

What do you look forward to most in terms of teaching the course again in Spring 2021?

I look forward to introducing the students to the fascinating and vitally important role of the ocean in our lives. Whether physiologically or economically, our lives and livelihoods are intricately dependent on the ocean. It is an excellent subject matter to study as to how and to what extent diplomacy at various levels--global, regional, national and local--work, including its potentials and limitations. Effective diplomacy is difficult to achieve because of the balancing act between States’ interests and common interests at the global level. It takes knowledge of the law and negotiation skills to resolve dauntingly complex challenges. That is why it is important that the next generation of lawyers understand the vital role they can play, indeed must play, in our collective efforts to conserve and sustainably use the largest ecosystem of this planet. To that end, I designed my seminar to give a practitioner’s perspective based on my work in the international fora.

Can you speak about your experience as a law student at Haub Law?

I certainly took advantage of everything "environmental" that Haub Law offered. I was an Associate of the Environmental Law Review and received the Environmental Law certificate. Because of my interest in international law (my bachelor's degree was in International Relations), I loved the comparative environmental law course taught by Professor Nicholas Robinson. My favorite experience was the Environmental Litigation Clinic because not only did I enjoy learning from Professor Coplan and Professor Kennedy, but I enjoyed working with colleagues who felt passionate about environmental law and the clients we served.

I was also fortunate to have challenging summer internships, which enriched my education. After 1L, I worked at General Electric’s Corporate Environmental Program, focusing on matters that had potential implications on their businesses located in Asia. After 2L, I was a summer associate at Robinson & Cole, where I had the opportunity to work on really interesting environmental law matters. All of these experiences allowed me to easily translate what I learned as a student into my legal practice.

Do you keep in touch with any of your former professors from your time at Pace?

Professor Robinson has been my mentor from the time I was a student at Haub Law. We continue to collaborate on various projects. It is hard to believe that we have known each other for over two decades! Professor Powers kindly joined in one of my seminar classes as a guest lecturer. I was her student, so it was nice to be at the podium together, albeit virtually.

What advice do you have for current and/or future law students?

We are in unprecedented and tumultuous times. When I speak to students one on one, the topics we cover are not just about the seminar but also, how they are coping with the pandemic and racial injustice. It has been helpful to be in the same space with them, to listen to their concerns, fears, and hopes for the future, which often mirror mine. It is important to know that the pandemic will pass and we have the power, especially as those who are the keepers of the US legal system, to change how the law is drafted, implemented and enforced.

As for graduating students whose plans were disrupted due to the pandemic, my advice is to fill any gaps with pro bono work. There are a lot of organizations that need volunteers and the work will not only boost one's CV, but also, the act of helping and meeting like-minded people will give a sense of purpose and fulfillment. I have and continue to engage in significant amount of pro bono work so I can attest to the great benefits of giving.

Can you briefly describe your career path post Pace?

I am the Representative for the Ocean, International Council of Environmental Law, and an Associate of Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. I am also the Senior Ocean Governance Advisor, Global Marine Polar Programme, IUCN, a Fellow at the Global Center of Environmental Legal Studies at Haub Law and a member of IUCN's World Commission on Environmental Law. In my capacity as the Representative for the Ocean, I lead the ICEL delegation at the United Nations intergovernmental conference on an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.

My previous positions include, Charge d’affaires/Senior Counsellor of the Permanent Observer Mission of International Chamber of Commerce to the United Nations; counsel, IBM’s Corporate Environmental Affairs; and associate at Robinson and Cole.

What do you hope to share and convey in your frequent lectures and panel presentations and through your published works?

My work is interdisciplinary, geared towards a wide range of stakeholders. I try to be what my colleague calls "an honest broker", to bridge the language/knowledge gaps among those who practice different disciplines. For example, there can be a vast difference in how scientists and diplomats communicate, but it is crucial that they can understand each other to achieve a collective goal. I try to convey knowledge in a way that can be used to foster dialogue, which could be the first step in finding solutions to complex problems. Perhaps being bilingual and bicultural help because I have to navigate two vastly different languages and cultures in my personal life. It is certainly a skill one has to acquire.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

My husband and I have a 14 year old daughter and we love to travel as a family. One of the things I enjoy about working at the UN is learning about different cultures through what the diplomats tell me about their country, which inevitably makes us want to go gain first-hand experience.

Also, music plays an important role in my life (I play the piano and the flute), perhaps because it is a universal "language" with each musician giving our unique interpretation of a particular piece. I love to play with other musicians--I think it is a more beautiful way to communicate than in words.

Haub Alumni of the Month: Dorothy Finger and Carl Finger

A mother-son Haub Law legacy

Dorothy and Carl Finger are both attorneys at The Law Offices of Finger & Finger, A Professional Corporation. In 1980, Dorothy graduated cum laude from the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University. In 1993, Carl Finger graduated from Boston University School of Law and then, in 1997, Carl followed in his mother’s footsteps and attended Haub Law, receiving his LLM in Environmental Law.

What were your favorite classes while attending Haub Law?

DF: Contracts, Federal Civil Procedure, and Constitutional Law

CF: I really enjoyed an environmental law class that I took with Professor Nick Robinson. It was extremely influential and eye opening.

Which classes in particular do you find most useful to your career?

DF: Contracts, real property, and civil procedure have proved to be the most useful and are applied regularly in the cases that I handle.

CF: As counsel to the Building and Realty Institute of Westchester and the Mid-Hudson Region, Inc., the land use classes have proven to be the most applicable from a day to day aspect. With that background I have worked with groups on SEQRA analysis and policy recommendation and related issues. The lessons from these classes have been applied to appearances before land use boards in local municipalities, lobbying efforts in Albany, and litigation.

What was one of your best memories from your time at Pace?

DF: Civil Procedure, when the professor posited the question: “You come home from work open the garage and see spouse’s car smashed, what do you do first?” Several answers were call the police, call your insurance company, etc. The professor responded by saying that the most important question was “Honey are you all right?” He said we will all be lawyers, but we must remember that we are first and foremost human beings. This is still the most important advice in practice.

CF: There was a Saturday all day seminar the first year in the environmental law program that I really enjoyed. It was a relaxed learning environment with great student and professor interaction.

Did you always desire to go to law school and become a lawyer? 

DF: I probably thought about it during high school, but there were few women in law at that time and when I was graduating from college I was also getting married. I got a masters in economics while I was working part-time. I thought about it after I had children, but until Pace opened in my back yard it was too difficult.

CF: I didn’t really plan on it. However, I did like the idea of working for myself and the family business has really been an important part of being an attorney for me.

Dorothy - how did you feel once your son decided to pursue law?

DF: I was happy with Carl’s decision because it was his decision – he was not sure what he wanted to do and a law degree would always be useful and productive. He turned out to be a great lawyer.

Carl – did your mothers attendance at Pace influence your decision to go to law school and eventually to attend Pace to receive your LLM?

CF: Definitely. I knew she had an amazing experience at Pace and when I was considering the masters of laws program the field was of interest, but I knew the professors, students, and community at Pace were top notch. I had many times met her fellow students and Professor Hervey Johnson so I knew that Pace was a place to build relationships that last a lifetime. 

What are the benefits of being involved in a family law practice?

DF: It has been a great way to grow the practice, but still keep it a mom and pop business. Also, during this particular time we could not have survived without Carl and Daniel and leaning and relying on one another not only as colleagues, but as family. 

CF: The unimpeded communication, cooperation, and sharing of knowledge and experience cannot be duplicated. Additionally, the ability to rely upon each other in an unusual way allows us to dedicate time to important other endeavors such as my service on the Village of Scarsdale Board of Trustees and the Village of Scarsdale Board of Education. 

Do you have any advice for current and future law students?

DF: Simply put: graduate, pass the bar, and get a job that will give you good experience, and don’t forget that you are a human being.

CF:  You will be challenged by attorneys, clients, and judges throughout your career, and not always in the nicest of ways or with the kindest of words.  Maintaining your own calm perspective and integrity will provide you with the foundation necessary to respond with confidence when confronted.

Haub Alumni of the Month: Steven Epstein '92

A Passion for Helping Others

Steven Epstein ’92 is a founding partner of Barket, Epstein, Kearon, Aldea & LoTurco, LLP and head of the firm’s DWI and Vehicular Crimes group. He is also an adjunct professor at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law and the head of the Steven Epstein DWI Defense Institute. The Steven Epstein DWI Defense Institute is an educational program designed to teach lawyers how to defend DWI cases.

Did you always desire to go to law school and become a lawyer?

Yes, for as long as I can recall I had a passion for helping others, it was this that led me to become an attorney.

What sticks out to you as memorable from your time at Pace?

As a student, it was the friendships I made and the many fun times we had outside of the classroom. As an adjunct professor, it is seeing students head into court as attorneys and move on to great careers as trial lawyers. As a parent, my daughter attending the same law school as me and watching her enjoy all that Haub Law has to offer really stands out.

Who were some of your favorite professors and classes while at Pace?

I had many, but definitely Professors Michael Mushlin, Faith Colangelo, Marianna Hogan, and Barbara Salken. As far as classes, I really enjoyed Evidence and participating in the Criminal Defense Clinic, both of which have proved useful in my career.

How did you begin teaching at Pace?

I knew Professor Lou Fasulo through my work with the Legal Aid Society. I started by volunteering to coach the trial teams with Lou and after coaching for several years, Lou gave me the opportunity to teach and  more than 20 years later it is as fulfilling and fun as it was the day I started.

Your daughter is going into her third year at Haub Law – how did you feel once your daughter decided to pursue law and then attend the same law school as you?

I was thrilled that she found for herself a career that she had a passion for. Alexis has always wanted to make an impact on this world and she found law as a pathway to do that. It was an added bonus that she chose to study law at the same school as me. She is on track to graduate in 2021 and I am very proud.

Can you describe your career path?

I began my career as a public defender with the criminal defense division of the Legal Aid Society of New York City where I worked from 1992 to 1997. After leaving Legal Aid and working for a small firm for just under two years, I opened my own solo practice, which I ran until 2012. At that point, I formed my current firm, Barket, Epstein, Kearon, Aldea & LoTurco, LLP. We are a boutique litigation firm with offices in Manhattan, Garden City and Huntington. We handle matters in criminal defense, personal injury law, commercial litigation, civil rights litigation and appeals. I am also head of the Steven Epstein DWI Defense Institute, an educational program designed to teach lawyers how to defend DWI cases, which has established a relationship with Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University. I have specialized in representing clients accused of DWI, vehicular homicides and other criminal offenses and have been lecturing nationally and locally on the topic of DWI for over 20 years. Over the last 28 years I have tried over 100 DWI cases to verdict. I serve as a Faculty Member, New York State Delegate and Northeast Regional Delegate of the National College for DUI Defense. I am also Vice President of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and serves as the chair for their CLE committee.

One of my proudest achievements was when I successfully challenged New York’s discovery statute and obtained and enforced an order directing the State to turn over to every defendant in New York State the full records of gas chromatography that relate to the certification of the simulator solution used for every person charged with a DWI who submitted to a breath test. This ruling subsequently resulted in a change to New York’s legislation. The resulting new discovery statute now entitles every defendant to the full records of gas chromatography that relate to the certification of the simulator solution.

Can you speak about the Steven Epstein DWI Defense Institute – what do you hope attorneys gain from attending?

The Steven Epstein DWI Defense Institute is a learning center designed to teach the pathway of a DWI case in New York from arrest through trial.  The first year’s curriculum which is taught over a ten month period will include a 24-hour National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Student Course. The Institute has a faculty who are leaders their fields and includes nationally renowned expert witnesses in the fields of breath testing, blood testing, accident reconstruction and standardized field sobriety testing. Their work has led them to be some of the most sought-after expert witnesses in DWI defense in the nation. Their knowledge is then paired with the trial skills needed to defend DWI cases and the first year concludes with a mock trial of a breath test case. It is my hope that attorneys will gain the knowledge of the science and tools needed to defend a DWI case at a high level and then pair that knowledge with real trial skills so that they are best equipped to be leaders in the defense of DWI cases. The Institute will also serve as a center for advocacy for the defense community to address state wide issues and handle actual cases.

What would your advice be for future or current law students?

There is nothing in this life that is worthwhile that comes easily. The most rewarding things in life take the most amount of work. So find what it is you want, do not let anyone or anything get in your way of accomplishing it and most importantly work as hard as you can to accomplish that goal.

Haub Alumni of the Month: Brian Caplan '84

A Path to Success

Brian Caplan is a 1984 Haub Law graduate and Member and Partner with Reitler Kailas & Rosenblatt LLC. Brian’s practice areas include entertainment law, intellectual property law, commercial law, contract law, employment law, and all related areas. Some of his clients have included recording artists and producers, songwriters, publishing companies, record labels, personal managers, business management, accounting firms, professional athletes, small business owners, dealers in fine art, along with partnerships and corporations.

A Q&A with Brian Caplan ’84

Did you always desire to go to law school and become a lawyer?

In my final year of college at Brandeis University, law school seemed like the right path for me to take. I originally wanted to go into international law, but there were no job opportunities available there. In retrospect, this worked out very well for me.

Who were your favorite professors during your time at law school?

I had quite a few! Off the top of my head, Professor Barbara Salken, Professor Hervey Johnson, Professor Marty Silfen, and Professor Donald Zeigler – to name a few.

What were some of your favorite classes?

I really enjoyed contracts, entertainment law, and international law. Many of the classes that I took while I was at Pace have helped me along the way in my career – including contracts, torts, civil procedure, criminal law and criminal procedure, and entertainment law.

What was your favorite experience while at Pace?

Participating in moot court and international moot court. This gave me the confidence to stand on my feet and articulate a position with authority in front of my peers.

Can you talk about the path of your career?  

While I was in law school, I clerked for a small commercial litigation law firm in White Plains. I completed law school in 2 and 1/2 years and began looking for a job while studying for the bar exam. I was at the right place at the right time to get a foot in the door at a small prestigious boutique entertainment and intellectual property litigation law firm in January 1985. With a new partner in this firm, I helped write a treatise on the state and federal laws regulating electronic eavesdropping. During the summer of 1985 I found out that I passed the bar and got hired. Parcher, Arisohn & Hayes was a 7 person law firm that represented incredible music industry talent: The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, and Diana Ross were just a few of the firm’s illustrious clients. Over my 5 years at the firm, I worked on many types of litigation involved in the music industry: copyright infringement, band (partnership) break-ups, audit claims, breach of contract claims, defamation and tortious interference claims. I could not have asked for a better job to start off my career.

In 1991, after I left the firm, my first well-known client was LL Cool J. By 1993 I was lecturing around the country before many other attorneys on entertainment litigation related issues. Over time, I built up a reasonable practice. I have been lucky to represent the Estates of George Gershwin and James Brown, also, The Allman Brothers Band, Lou Reed and the Lumineers, as well as influential rap artists and producers.

I have conducted four federal court jury trials involving diverse subject matter, including an assault and battery claim against rapper Rick Ross, a copyright termination/co-authorship claim for Victor Willis, the original lead singer of the Village People – who wrote the lyrics to YMCA and many other compositions – and a misappropriation of corporate assets claim brought by 2 of the 3 individuals who discovered the recording artist Meat Loaf in the late 1970s.

Each new case is a new challenge and I have generally enjoyed what I do for almost 35 years.

You recently authored and published a book - J.D. to J.D.: My Journey from Juvenile Delinquent to Doctor of Jurisprudence – can you talk about that?

In 2013, I was laying in a bed at Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital fighting leukemia and I realized how lucky I had been in life to have had the experiences I had. It was at that point I came up with the title “J.D. to J.D.”  Many people do not get second chances in life. I did and with a little luck got into Pace, left my juvenile delinquent days behind me, and managed to build a satisfying career in the law focusing on entertainment and intellectual property. My book recounts client anecdotes and life learning experiences. You can learn more about Brian’s book and read an excerpt, - J.D. to J.D.: My Journey from Juvenile Delinquent to Doctor of Jurisprudence, here.

Do you have any advice for future and current law students?

Treat law school like a job. It is not like being in college. The demands are greater, but so is the satisfaction level when you meet the challenge. Also, work hard, but learn how to unwind when the work is done. Take diverse courses to see what interests you, but remember that your first job opportunity may not afford you the luxury of practicing the precise type of law that you are interested in so it is important to remain flexible over the course of your career.

Chair of NYSBA's Environmental & Energy Law Section

Nicholas Ward-Willis, '93

Nicholas Ward-Willis (’93) will serve as Chair of the Environmental & Energy Law Section of the NYSBA. He is a member at Keane & Beane P.C. His areas of practice include: Environmental Law, Land Development & Zoning, Litigation & Alternative Dispute Resolution, Municipal Law, Real Estate, and Insurance Defense and Civil Rights. He is a frequent lecturer on land use and environmental issues. Nicholas received his J.D. from the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University in 1993 along with a Certificate in Environmental Law. During his time at Pace, he was also a member of the Environmental Law Review.

Meet Flex JD student highlight

Andrea Grant

What brought you to law school? 

After working in the court system for many years, I realized that law is meant to be a part of my journey. Both my personal history and what I have learned while working in the court system has contributed to a personal sense of wanting and needing to give back to my community. Attending law school and becoming a lawyer is one way that I can do that.

Why did you choose Haub Law?

I chose Haub Law primarily because of its location in Westchester County. It is close to home and work for me. I am a Pace University alumna, so I knew firsthand the quality education that Pace provides. I was also attracted by the Pace Women's Justice Center. The Flex JD scheduling option solidified my decision. It allows me to still be able to work full-time, while balancing a rigorous course load.

You are a 1L, but so far, which professor has stood out to you? 

Professor McLaughlin made our first semester Civil Procedure class interesting and engaging. He challenged us, but also shared a wealth of knowledge as well as practical advice, words of wisdom, and a bit of humor.

What are your goals post-law school?

I am interested in family law, based on my work experience. Presently, I work in the Ninth Judicial District Administrative Judge's Office. Six years ago, I started working in the Westchester County Family Court. It was my experience with the Family Court that helped inspire my decision to attend law school and I see myself continuing on that path after law school. I believe that the Family Court system makes incredible strides in rehabilitating troubled youth and reuniting families. Additionally, I am interested in mental hygiene law and would like to explore that area in more depth. I was enrolled in Pace University's Mental Health Counseling Program before deciding to begin law school. I enjoyed the material and believe that mental health and the law are inseparable. Whichever path I take in my law career, I hope to keep psychology a very relevant part of my work.

Let’s talk hobbies outside of law school – what else are you interested in?

I'm a cat-mom, I like to cook, and I like to practice ballet. I also love printed books and the art that goes into making them – prior to law school I worked for a book publisher as a trade production assistant.

Fighting for Equality

Eric Paulk, '16

Eric Paulk '16 graduated from Morehouse College in 2003. From there, though he was pretty sure he ultimately wanted to attend law school, he spent time in the private sector to gain experience in the business world and build upon his undergraduate training. “I knew that law school was a big commitment in every sense of the word. I wanted to make sure that I was ready to commit so I spent some time working in a variety of positions. Then in my last role before I went to law school, I was Managing Director of a performing arts center and in that position I oversaw every aspect of the center – which included contract negotiations and the legal department. It reignited my desire to attend law school.”

Eric started at Pace in 2013. “I really immersed myself in law school. I joined student groups. I participated in clinics. I spoke with professors outside of class. I took advantage of a wonderful learning experience.” While at Pace, Eric was involved in the Black Law Students Association, LAMBDA Law Student Association, and participated with moot court.  “One of the most practical learning experiences that I had was as a civil rights extern working through the law firm Newman Ferrara with Professors Cohen and McLaughlin.This provided me with experience in research, writing, discovery, trial preparation, and client contact. I also learned how to prepare legal documents and petitions. It was an invaluable experience.”

After graduating from law school, Eric was the Tyron Garner Fellow at Lambda Legal in Atlanta. “In the fellowship role, I worked on policy issues, I worked to move along local and regional legislative efforts, I was an advocate, I spoke at forums, panels, meetings, and events, and I also did legal research. I became an expert on LGBTQ issues and HIV criminal justice reform which allowed me the opportunity to engage in real grassroots efforts for equality. Additionally, this role allowed me to really be a leader both regionally and nationally around HIV-related legal issues. It was an amazing experience.” From there, Eric moved on to the Equality Foundation of Georgia as an HIV Policy Organizer and then was promoted in April 2019 to Deputy Executive Director of the Organization. “In the role as Deputy Executive Director, I oversee all day-to-day operations and develop and manage our advocacy activities. I also work with the executive director and the board to develop and implement the organization’s strategic plan. I help to drive up support and also build relationships in the community.”

Recently, Eric was selected as one of Georgia's Top 40 Leaders Under 40. In the article about Eric’s selection it was noted that Eric has dedicated his career to fighting for equality for all Georgians. Eric himself notes that “It is an important time in our state and our country to protect LGBTQ people, immigrants, and people of color. I am part of a movement creating equality for these communities. My law school experience and Pace in particular has played such a critical role in my leadership development and also in helping to carve out the work that I'm doing. I am definitely a proud alumnus.”

Innovation, Creativity, and Public Interest Law

Sarah Cinquemani, '18

Sarah Cinquemani graduated from the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University in 2018. She started her career as a New York State Excelsior Fellow with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. In October 2019, Sarah became an Assistant Attorney with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in Albany. In her role, she serves as a program attorney for the Division of Water working on the NYC Watershed and water quality issues.

What brought you to law school?

I have my Political Science professors at Adelphi University to thank for planting the idea of going to law school and studying environmental law in my head. Originally, I planned to go into the public policy field, maybe earn a Masters in Public Administration, but through my college courses I learned that environmental policy work takes years, even decades, to develop and implement and thought environmental law would be a more effective way to make a positive impact on the environment. Looking back, it is a bit funny because developing law- either through legislation or the courts- takes years, even decades. And now that I am a public policy attorney, I’ve come to appreciate that developing policy takes time and public input, but I recognize the really important work is implementing the policies effectively, so that they address the environmental concerns and help the public.

Why did you choose Pace? 

I only applied to law schools with environmental law programs; so naturally, Pace was at the top of my list. In addition, Pace's close proximity to NYC and to my family in central Connecticut significantly factored into my decision to come here. I also received a substantial scholarship and met with environmental faculty from whom I was excited to learn.

Were you always interested in public interest work?  

I didn't know when I came to law school what 'public interest' work was, but I quickly realized it was exactly the type of work I envisioned myself doing. I saw myself working for a state or local government agency where attorneys work with scientists, engineers and policy specialists in a more holistic process to protect the environment within the constraints of the law. I am grateful to be working in a position where I get to do exactly that.

How did the Public Interest Law Center assist you during your time at Pace?

I can't say enough about the dedication of Elyse Diamond. She reviewed countless cover letters and iterations of my resume, helped me with interview preparation, checked in with me after interviews, and ultimately assisted me in making the decision about accepting the position as a NYS Excelsior Fellow. Even after law school, Elyse has kept in contact, checking in on me in my new role.

What specific experience at Pace helped you prepare you for a career in public interest law?  

 All of my summer internships were with government agencies; my first summer I was at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene where I gained confidence appearing in administrative hearings representing the Department in restaurant health code violation matters. I also interned at the NYS Attorney General's Office in the Environmental Protection Bureau where I gained a better understanding of the breadth of issues that come up when dealing with environmental cases; I was exposed to real property, bankruptcy and corporate law when researching questions for issues attorney’s raised. I was fortunate to be selected as a Federal Judicial Honors student where I interned in Judge Kenneth Karas's chambers in the Southern District of New York in White Plains, and I also worked at the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic representing Riverkeeper, a non-profit organization, where I learned from attorneys who are extremely passionate and knowledgeable about protecting our environment and improved my oral advocacy skills through the intensive mock trial and working on a case where I appeared before a judge in the Brooklyn Supreme Court.

 Can you describe your career path since graduation?

Before graduating from Pace, I was offered a spot as a NYS Excelsior Service Fellow, but all I knew about the position was that I would be placed with a state agency in Albany for a two year fellowship. I didn't learn until early June that I would be working at the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, which was my top choice for a placement. I moved to Albany and began working in the Office of General Counsel in early September 2018 in the Bureau of Water and Natural Resources. In my position as a public policy attorney, I work on water issues related to the NYC Watershed, impaired water bodies, emerging contaminants, drafting rule making documents, and providing legal advice to technical staff on matters related to the Clean Water Act and the NYS Environmental Conservation Law. In my role, I interact with other state agencies, EPA, and the NYC Department of Environmental Protection as well as local organizations. In October, I accepted a permanent position in that same role as an Assistant Attorney. I am excited to grow in my role and take on new responsibilities.

 Please share what you find most rewarding about working in public interest law?

Working in a state agency where we are constantly asked to do more with less requires innovation and pushes everyone to develop creative solutions.  I learn from experts in the environmental field every day and I am exposed to technical areas like engineering, toxicology, and forestry which feeds my desire to ask more questions and try to learn as much as I can from the people I work with.

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

Someone who does not lose sight of the cause they are fighting for, which is harder than it sounds. At times, I’ve found myself stuck in the weeds researching a legal question, but I am reinvigorated when I remember that the work I am doing will help people and their communities. When researching doesn’t lead to a clear answer, the ability to think creatively to develop a workable solution is another necessary skill for a public interest attorney. 

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