Success Stories

Haub Alumni of the Month: Candice Smith '20

Candice Smith graduated from the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University in 2020. Currently, Candice is an Assistant District Attorney with the Queens County District Attorney’s Office.

Why did you decide to go to law school?

I was at a point in my life where I knew that I was not happy with my current situation and that I wanted more for myself. I always wanted to be a lawyer since a young age. I thought I was too old to go back to school and I thought I would never be accepted into any law school, but Haub Law gave me a chance and I started law school at age 30. Haub Law made me feel welcome and reaffirmed that I had made the right decision to take this big step in my life.

What do you remember from your first day of law school?

It didn’t feel real at first. However, I was beginning a new chapter in my life, so I was excited and nervous, but also focused and determined on succeeding.

What significant practical experiences did you have during law school?

During my 1L summer, I interned at the Queens County District Attorney’s Office in their Narcotics Investigations Bureau. There, I was able to assist with investigations, including drafting search warrants and going on raids with the police officers. This experience is what made me realize that I wanted to pursue a career in prosecution.

I also worked for the FBI as an Honors Intern. This internship gave me a wonderful experience and also provided me with an opportunity to leave home for the first time in my life and move to DC for a few months.

Who were some of your most memorable professors from your time at Haub Law?

Professor Barry and Professor Crawford. Professor Barry has been supportive of my career path in prosecution beginning in my 1L year. Professor Crawford is extremely caring, passionate about teaching, and is always willing to help.

What is your day-to-day like as an Assistant District Attorney? 

Right now, I am in the Intake and Assessment Bureau. I handle the arrests that are made in Queens County. This consists of interviewing police officers, witnesses and victims, gathering evidence, and drafting the accusatory instrument that goes to court.

Were you always interested in criminal law?

Yes. From a young age, I was exposed to crime in my neighborhood and close to home. I always knew that someday I wanted to be in a position where I could help my community and the victims, and also help the defendants in a way that may address any underlying issues that caused them to commit these crimes. 

How has the pandemic shaped what you do and how you do it?

My role as a prosecutor working in the Intake Bureau means that I still need to report to work every day, regardless of a pandemic, because I know that there is a person sitting in a jail cell waiting to be arraigned and can’t see a judge until we write up the case. So, we try to be mindful, and work diligently to get the defendant processed as quickly as possible.

What is most rewarding about your job?

What I like best about my job is knowing that my work is valued and that the office makes you feel like you are a part of a family. The most rewarding thing is knowing that I am in a position to help make an impact on a person’s life, even if that means securing an order of protection for an abused victim, or not proceeding with charges knowing that a person is innocent.

How did Haub Law help shape your career path?

Haub Law offered me a chance to take multiple criminal law courses and receive a concentration in criminal law. In addition, the hands on practical intern experiences were extremely useful. I utilize the knowledge that I gained from these classes and experiences in my day to day.

Do you have any advice for current students?

Don’t give up! Also, your reputation is everything, so make sure you try and have the best relationships you can with your colleagues, professors, and everyone you come across in life.

Madison Shaff

JD Candidate '22

Madison Shaff is a 2L at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University. She recently received the Jefferson Award for Public Service, a Pace University honor recognizing individuals from the Pace community for their public and volunteer service, and dedication to improving the quality of life in their communities. Madison is also a member of the Pace Environmental Law Review and Secretary of the Student Bar Association.

What brought you to law school?

When I was in high school, I was captain of the rowing team in my hometown. While on the team, I witnessed many changes to the ecosystem around me. As a result of Lake Okeechobee discharges, my river was polluted with nutrients. The waters became uninhabitable to the many organisms that once lived there. These animals were the dolphins, manatees, and fish that made the 6:00AM workouts worth it. Eventually, the team was prohibited from going into the water due how much toxic algae had populated the water. There was no one in a place of power or with a legal background fighting for us, sharing in the loss of something we cherished. I went to law school to be one of the people fighting for polluted rivers. And, I chose Pace for its amazing environmental program.

What has been your most memorable experience during law school so far?

I would say the best part of my law school experience has been meeting some of the most honest and true friends to embark on this journey with. I have met so many genuine people, too many to name, but specifically since the first week of orientation, I have been lucky to have in my company my best friends Mikey Pabon, Abi Monahan Negron, Ashley Grullon, and Tuba Farooqui.

I see that you have been very involved as a law student in organizing suicide prevention trainings for law students – can you talk about that?

YES. This is one of my passions in and out of school environments. When I was younger one of my closest friends passed away from suicide. I know, personally, that people can be struggling all around us without us knowing. It is so interesting to me because everyone has mental health and everyone has struggles, it is a wonder to me why mental health has been stigmatized for so long historically. Specifically, in the legal field, we read cases day in and day out that are “heavy.” We need to unpack that emotional fatigue. I felt that having a suicide prevention training geared toward law student struggles was important so we can keep a watchful eye over all people in our community. Knowing the warning signs and knowing how to start a conversation can be a big help to possibly saving someone’s life.

Can you also talk about the Peer Leader Mentor program?

With so many students entering into a HUGE journey, mostly remotely, we found that the in-hall interactions where 1L’s could possibly meet upper classman would be mostly absent. Paige Guarino and I started the Peer Leader Mentor program last semester and went to great lengths to make sure all students (flex, January, and all 1L sections) were assigned a 2L or 3L mentor. These partnerships were made to have informal conversations about anything that the student may not know, from how to apply to internships, how to nail an interview, what to do when you mess up a cold call, etc. It is still in its beginning phases and we have worked out a few of the growing pains already. I am hopeful that it will continue for the upcoming years at the school, regardless of if we continue remote or move into fully in person learning.

How did you feel when you found out you were a Jefferson Award winner?

I was honestly shocked! I figured there were so many other wonderful people probably nominated – especially when you factor in that the award can be given to anyone (faculty, students, or staff from all Pace campuses). I thought it was a long shot and I was just flattered to have been nominated in the first place.

In your opinion, what makes a good advocate?

A good advocate is someone who questions the status quo. I think that now more than ever people are willing to take a deeper look at the systems that grant them privilege and are willing to fight and advocate for anyone who is being oppressed by those systems. I think the main thing that lawyers should be is open to change and open to changing their own understanding of what is “right” and “fair.” If we can’t be open to change, then we will never improve our legal system to accommodate all people.

You also participate in a web series – tell us about that.  

I am co-host to Approach the Bench TV (ATB). ATB is a talk show web series where my fellow co-host, Mikey Pabon, and I moderate and have dialogues regarding tough conversations. So far, we have discussed COVID-19, Black Lives Matter Protests, and the upcoming topic will be mental health. We have interviewed students and faculty from our very own Haub Law and the broader community of Westchester. You can view episodes at

Any non-law related hobbies or interesting facts about yourself you would like to share?

I am a musical theater nerd. I paint a lot! I used to channel all of my stress into running, but I mostly like to run in gyms. When COVID hit, I really didn’t feel comfortable running in a local gym surrounded by other people, so I turned to art. I recently submitted some work inspired by the Black Lives Matter Movement and Police Reform to ArtsWestchester. And, let’s see, a random fact about me is: the only time I have ever broken a bone was due to jumping in a bounce house at age 20.

Shaff art
Original artwork by Haub Law student Madison Shaff

What is next on your law school agenda?

I will be running for SBA president!

Finally, what are your career aspirations post law school?

My dream job is to be an EPA administrative law judge. In a perfect world, I’d also like to reform some of the environmental statues that leave too many holes in our legal system for pollution.

Haub Alumni of the Month: Elizabeth Citrin '94

Opening up brand new horizons

Elizabeth Citrin graduated from the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University in 1994. She is the founder of her law firm, Elizabeth A. Citrin, P.C. in Alabama. Her primary practice areas include personal injury, bad faith insurance claims, business interruption claims, and more. After graduating from Vanderbilt University, Ms. Citrin started her career as a television producer and writer, working for CBS News, Channel 9, Lifetime, WWOR TV, and others before going on to attend law school. After law school, she completed a clerkship for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit as a Motions Law Clerk. She then worked as Assistant Corporation Counsel for the NYC Law Department. Afterward, Ms. Citrin briefly returned to television to work on a start-up court show for CBS Inc./King World before she started practicing complex litigation defense work in South Alabama. Ms. Citrin has been identified as one of the Top 100 Civil Plaintiff Trial Lawyers in Alabama.

A Q&A with Elizabeth Citrin '94

Can you briefly describe your career path? 

My first job out of college at Vanderbilt University was for an advertising photographer as a photo assistant and location scout.  I then took an entry-level job for CBS Newsradio 88, working my way up to producing segments for The CBS Morning News.  I also produced for WWOR-TV and Lifetime Television, among others.  In my late twenties I started thinking about getting a law degree and was fortunate to be accepted in Pace’s evening program, which allowed me to keep working for a taped formatted show (Attitudes) for Lifetime. I had previously worked in live television and going to law school at the same time would not have been possible because the hours were unpredictable (i.e., taping in London for a War Correspondent’s Roundtable with Dan Rather for CBS, or flying to Cape Canaveral at a moment’s notice to cover the tragedy of the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion after liftoff).  I did not know that getting a law degree would lead to me becoming a full-time lawyer, but as it turned out, I enjoyed becoming a lawyer very much and have been able to utilize this position to earn a good living and help change the world in small ways.

How did the desire to go to law school evolve for you?

The idea of going to law school and becoming a lawyer evolved over time.  Having a law degree opens-up so many doors.  I cannot imagine anybody regretting the decision, even if he/she chooses a different path after obtaining the degree.  It makes you a sharper thinker and gives you an edge that others without a law degree may not have.  As a woman in the business world, running a law practice, and litigating civil cases in state and federal courts, there can be challenges.  Being a lawyer helps bridge the gaps.

How did you choose Pace? 

I was working as a producer on a television show at the time and I needed an evening program for law school.  I loved the location and campus and everybody I met was down to earth and accessible, which was important to me being an older student.  My then husband had a branch office in Westchester County, and it made sense that I choose Pace (there were only a few evening programs back then).  I was 30 and had been out of school for nine years, having graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1981.  When I went to Vanderbilt, I thought I would become a photographer traveling the world for National Geographic.  My first job out of college was for an advertising photographer on Madison Avenue and eventually I became a producer for network news (CBS) and cable shows (Lifetime, WWOR-TV).  I started studying for the LSATs while recovering from an injury, applied to law school, found out I was pregnant with my first daughter in the first semester, and so slowly phased out the television job so I could focus on law school and caring for my baby.  Pace was super progressive even then.  When my daughter, Jackie, was born on April 25, 1991, during the spring semester right before finals, Pace let me sit for the exams late and take breastfeeding breaks during the exams while I kept track of the time limits.  Remember this was 1991, so that type of accommodation was not common.  Pace was way ahead of the curve!  I was able to attend law school, have a newborn, and ultimately get a law degree that enabled me to earn a good living and provide for my family, sending both of my daughters to top notch colleges and in turn help launch their successful careers, presently at Condé Nast and TikTok.  Pace understands that we live in the real world and meets the needs of its students.

During your time as a student at Pace, who were your favorite professors? 

This past fall, I attended the Law School reunion, which was possible this year because of Zoom. I live in South Alabama on the Gulf Coast and my older daughter, who I normally could stay with in NYC, has been telecommuting from here since March for Condé Nast at the World Trade Center during the pandemic.  One of the presentations that I participated in during the reunion was with Professor Bennett Gershman. It immediately reminded me of the high-quality professors I had at Pace when I attended there from 1990 to 1994. The presentation was on constitutional law, which is especially timely given recent events and issues that remain historically relevant. I think of those classes often, particularly due to my filing and involvement in a federal race case against a multi-billion-dollar chicken company. Also see here.

During the presentation, I was filled with warm memories and grew increasingly sentimental, even teary, about my time at Pace as Professor Gershman gave his talk.  I remember the engaging discussions that we would have in his class during what seemed like, in retrospect, simpler times (daily living and politics were certainly easier to grasp). Professor Gershman was my favorite professor and I still remember him saying, and have repeated it through the years, in the criminal law context that nothing good ever happens if you are out after midnight (an important lesson that I taught my two daughters, now in their twenties, when they were younger).  I emailed Professor Gershman after his talk and he expressed how much he missed the community, given the changes brought on by the pandemic. Sharing in his teachings made me feel part of the Pace community again after so many years and inspired me to continue trying to make my mark through my legal work.

Similarly, what were your favorite classes?

My favorite classes were those with Professor Ben Gershman. And, also, the Pace Environmental Law Clinic, which at the time was run by Bobby Kennedy, Jr.  The Clinic gave us the opportunity to roll up our sleeves and dig into actual cases involving the Clean Water Act and the Hudson River.  I have worked on sewage spill cases using what I learned during Bobby’s Clinic.

As a student, you were a member of the Pace Law Review - can you talk about that experience? 

I was the Casenote and Comment Editor of Pace Law Review.  I had endless energy in those days, and this position gave me the opportunity to focus on quality legal writing, blue booking citation skills, and hunting for the most compelling topics that students, scholars, and practitioners would want to find and read.  It is not enough to just be a good legal writer.  It is critical to pick interesting topics to write on and areas of the law that will be useful in the real world and helpful to practitioners.

How did your time at Pace prove useful to your future career?

The experience of attending Pace, learning a new way to think, honing new skills, and gaining a law degree, opened-up brand new horizons for me.  I unfortunately went through a divorce after attending Pace and my two daughters were young at the time. I decided to apply for law firm positions in South Alabama where I had family living, including two of my brothers, and later my parents and sister.  I was already admitted to practice law in New York and Connecticut and was then able to take and pass the Alabama and Mississippi Bar exams. This enabled me to carve out a completely new life for myself and my daughters in a beautiful area where the cost of living is much lower than in Manhattan, and the ability to earn is high.  While I have missed living in New York City tremendously (my father’s family is from the Bronx), and yearn to see my friends there more often, I have enjoyed the independence and ability to provide for myself here that the law degree from Pace allowed me.

What is your advice for future/current law students? 

Haub (Pace) Law will open-up many career horizons.  Getting a law degree will be your ticket to a stimulating, rewarding and secure career.

Haub Alumni of the Month: Jeffrey Deskovic '19

A Journey Full Circle

Jeffrey Deskovic is a 2019 Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University alumnus. Prior to law school, Jeffrey Deskovic was wrongly convicted of murder and incarcerated for sixteen years. Since his release, he has finished his bachelor's degree, earned a master's degree, started The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation For Justice, earned his law degree, passed the bar exam, became a recognized advocate in criminal justice reform circles, and much more. Jeff’s journey and graduation from law school, along with his post-law school path has been prominently featured in various media outlets.

A Q&A with Jeffrey Deskovic ’19 (with commentary by Professor Ben Gershman and Professor Robin Frankel)

Did you grow up wanting to be an attorney?

From the time that I was a teenager, I wanted to be an attorney. My mother had a personal injury attorney who I admired and this made me start thinking about becoming an attorney as a career down the road. Then, when I while I was wrongfully incarcerated, my mind went back to becoming an attorney. About three or four years prior to being exonerated, I thought, ‘if I ever get out of here, I want to become an attorney in order to help free others who are in my position.’

 After being exonerated, I received a scholarship from Mercy College to finish my education. Immediately after finishing at Mercy, I attempted to get into law school. Simply put, there was a large focus on LSAT scores and I did not do well on that specific test. I applied to 11 schools, arguing my background, the advocacy work I was doing, my undergraduate GPA, and what I wanted to do with the law degree should lead to law schools to give me a chance.  I did not get into a single school. So, from there, I went to graduate school and got a master’s degree. I also started my nonprofit, The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice, using the compensation I received from my wrongful incarceration, whose purpose is to free the wrongfully convicted and pursue policy changes aimed at preventing wrongful conviction in the first place.

How did Haub Law come into the picture?

I did a presentation at the Judicial Institute at the Law School. Afterwards, I spoke to a judge who was at the seminar in the hallway. This judge complimented the presentation I had just completed and encouraged me to apply to law school – telling me that all I was missing was the credential of a JD. It was then that I began to revisit the possibility of law school. With this encouragement, I decided to try again. I was also tired of sitting in the front row of the courtroom – we were freeing people through my foundation and I wanted to sit at the defense table and help represent the clients.

So I took a LSAT class, took the test, and did even worse on the LSAT. However, by now, law schools were taking a more holistic approach. I applied to Haub Law with the encouragement of Professor Bennett Gershman, who I had a pre-existing relationship with. Given my low score, I knew that I had to hit the ball out of the park in the interview to be admitted. Haub Law was the school I wanted to go to- it is the only law school in Westchester County. I grew up here in this county; was wrongfully convicted and exonerated here in White Plains. I do my work here. I got into an out of state law school, but though it was only four hours away, in many ways I would have had to give up my life to do so. While I was prepared to do so, it was not my preferred path. When Haub Law accepted me, it was like everything lined up exactly right. It is empowering to be an attorney- the extra credential allows me to be involved in freeing the wrongfully convicted in a more direct way, assists my policy work, and also how I regarded by my peers and elected officials.

Can you talk about some of the courses you took while at Haub Law and what role they have played in your post-law school career?

Legal Skills 1 and 2 were key. In those courses, I learned brief writing and writing memos – both objective and advocacy documents. I use all of those skills directly right now in my work. I was recently appointed to serve on the transition team for the Conviction Integrity Unit of Westchester D.A.-elect Mimi Rocah, who I previously had as an adjunct professor for two classes here at Haub Law. I have used these learned skills to draft memos on my recommendations. I am also serving on the Peekskill Police Task Force Reform committee and in that role, my experience reading case law has helped. I have to read rules and regulations so there is a direct intersection there as well. I am serving on the policy subcommittee and find myself using what I learned in administrative law regularly.

Additionally, my Foundation currently has 11 active cases where we are working on freeing 11 people. I have entered some of those cases as co-counsel. I am regularly using skills that I learned while in the defense clinic under the supervision of Professors Frankel and Dorfman, such as client interviewing and paying attention to detail.

Then, there are the additional bonus skills that I picked up in law school, such as the experience of working under a deadline and communicating with prosecutors while advocating for clients.   

What professors guided you most during your time at Haub Law?

Professor Gershman – 100% made my experience what it was – he was my everything. He was my unofficial advisor-he would check in on me, tell me what classes he thought I should take, and I was always enthusiastic about letting him know my grades. Not wanting to disappoint him was one of the many reasons that I gave 110%.

Professor Robin Frankel also. She was an extremely supportive adjunct. She came to many events when I got awards or spoke. We co-presented a CLE we designed called Tips from an Exonerated Man in Law School six times. Her imprint on my career and life is something I felt. She remains a trusted advisor in my life.

Professor Peter Widulski also used to check in on me. We would sit in hallways or have lunch in cafeteria and chat, even though I never had him for a single class!

Then, of course, Professors Michael Mushlin and David Dorfman. They each guided me in different but important ways, helping me on my journey in law school. I like to think I made significant contributions in their classroom settings as well, enhancing the educational experience for my fellow students.

I also received tremendous support from the academic success program at the law school. At certain points, my GPA was below a certain level and the school required that I take other classes as a result. While I didn’t like doing so at the time, I can unequivocally say that I would not have passed the bar exam on my first try without the extra prep those classes gave me.

Lastly, Professor Gannon went above and beyond in tutoring me- there was a stretch of approximately six weeks in a row where she came in early to work specifically to help me with Blue booking when I was completely lost. I ended up with a B+ in that class! There were many other times when she tutored me on legal research, answering other questions, using advanced features of Microsoft Word, and generally encouraging me in the Law Library, where I practically lived during my first two years in law school.

The great thing about Haub Law is that it is a school where each student receives the attention they need in order to succeed. I greatly appreciated the school allowing me to leave my imprint on it in terms of wrongful conviction. Every year we recognized Wrongful Conviction Day on Oct. 2nd. I helped organize events and spoke at them. These were received enthusiastically.  I wrote a few articles for the student newspaper. I would forward my media coverage to the PR department. I like to think I was good to Haub Law also. I truly enjoyed participating in classroom discussion and my overall experience. I continue to stay in touch with many professors, and sometimes speak in the classes as a guest. Summed up: I am very appreciative of Haub Law giving me the opportunity to become an attorney.

Can you speak about The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice?

The Foundation has 11 active cases right now. All of the cases started out with someone in prison writing a letter alleging that they are actually innocent. We collect limited legal documents – direct appeal briefs from the defense and the prosecution, which we use for the factual section – that is our cliff notes. We get lab and police reports. We also have a questionnaire. We cross-reference the questionnaire with the factual section of the direct appeal briefs to authenticate. We consider what was used as evidence of guilt, particularly in light of known red flags in cases that have ended in exoneration. I have an intake team that reads all of this and gives me a report. Then we debate about the cases. I have read several hundred case summaries of cases that ended in exoneration from The Innocence Project’s website and from The National Registry of Exonerations, so I know the various angles and things to check. I ask questions of the case analysts who let me know if a line of reasoning might apply in that specific factual situation. We go back and forth a few times until we feel there is nothing else to know. Then we critically discuss the case, asking ourselves two questions: (1) do we believe in the applicant’s claim of innocence and (2) do we see a potential route for exoneration (which for us usually equates to a 15-20% chance of success). We also think about costs – time and financial. Then we make a hard choice – accept or pass. If we accept, we pitch the cases to lawyers – ask them to take on the cases pro boo, who carry out the legal and investigative strategies while we remain involved on the consultative level and pitching in with media and grassroots tactics.

I used some of my own funds to start the organization, but after three years I could not simply keep writing large checks. So I had to convert the organization to a volunteer entity. But I am I the process of trying to raise funds, with the end goal of again having a staff going hard at these cases and freeing as many wrongfully convicted people as possible. To date, we have freed ten people. We have also helped pass various laws and are working on a policy level too. We are constantly working on fundraising with the idea of expanding our capacity in terms of the number of cases we can take and in the number of states we can work on policy changes.

Jeff Deskovic’s journey has been nothing short of extraordinary. Of Jeff, Professor Ben Gershman notes that: “It’s not possible to capture in words Jeff’s remarkable journey from imprisonment for sixteen years as a teenager for a crime he didn’t commit, to graduating with honors from the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, and then creating a legal foundation to assist other wrongfully incarcerated persons gain freedom. At a time when despair and cynicism permeate much of society, Jeff’s courage, resilience, and humanity shine through the darkness as a symbol of hope. I have watched him receive the Servant of Justice Award and have enjoyed his presentations so much.  I have seen the outpouring of support for him.”

Professor Robin Frankel recounts Jeffrey as “an inspirational storyteller with real-life lessons about what it means to be wrongfully convicted. It was a pleasure for me to join him on a citywide CLE tour entitled, “Tips From An Exonerated Man In Law School,” in which he shared these invaluable lessons with practicing criminal defense attorneys. I have accompanied Jeffrey on several speaking engagements, such as the New Rochelle High School Forensic Science Program and the Newburgh “Movies That Matter” lecture series in connection with his participation in the film, “Survivor’s Guide to Prison.”  Most importantly, I watched with pride as Jeffrey received the Servant of Justice Award for his role in the creation of the NYS Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct.  ​Jeffrey is a fighter, a role model, and a friend. I am so grateful to have him as an ally in the fight against wrongful convictions.”

Haub Alumni of the Month: Tiffany Zezula & Jessica Bacher

2003 Alumni & Land Use Law Center Staff

Jessica Bacher and Tiffany Zezula have a long history together. Both Jessica and Tiffany began their studies at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University in 2000. During their time at Pace as students, they both immersed themselves in work with the Land Use Law Center and Professor John Nolon. After graduating in 2003, Jessica and Tiffany both joined the Land Use Law Center in a different capacity – as staff members. For the last seventeen years, they have both grown exponentially along with the Center. Jessica is now Executive Director at the LULC and Tiffany is Deputy Director.

How did each of you decide to attend law school and Pace in particular?

Tiffany: I was an Ecology Major at Tulane so was very passionate about conservation, so decided a law degree could help me pursue a career that could truly impact environmental preservation issues. Pace’s environmental program was a perfect fit to accomplish my goals.

Jessica: I was a business major undergrad at University of Florida and became very interested in environmental issues so decided to minor in environmental studies. I particularly became interested in coastal and ocean issues and wrote my thesis on Australia’s Ocean Policy after travelling there for a study abroad program.  When looking at law schools, I was immediately attracted to the strong environmental program and Pace so applied and received the Presidential Scholarship.

What was your involvement with the LULC like during your time as a student?

Jessica: Tiffany and I met our first year in law school in Professor Dorfman’s Crim Law class and immediately discovered our common interests (and also our common study habits, so formed a study group that lasted all three years and continues today!). Tiffany, in her role as President of ELS, hosted a speaker from TNC on coastal issues. Professor Nolon contributed to the discussion by providing land use solutions to coastal management issues and we were hooked on land use. We both took all the land use courses, worked at the Center, and even co-authored a PELR article called The Beach Zone that outlines land use tools for coastal resiliency.

What was your path after law school and how has it evolved over time at the LULC?

Tiffany: Professor Nolon was a mentor to both of us and we wanted to continue careers advancing the mission of the Center. We joined the Center officially as Graduate Fellows and within five years took over joint leadership. We recently celebrated our 17th year at the Center.

What are some of the projects and initiatives you are working on at the LULC?

Jessica: Today we continue our passion for coastal resiliency. We are working with EPA and FEMA on local government tools for resiliency and post-storm recovery. This also includes working with NY State on the Climate Smart Communities program and furthering it through training of local government officials with support from the National Fish and Wildlife Federation, NY Sea Grant, and NY DEC.

How does Land Use Law impact communities?

Jessica: Land use plans and regulations shape human settlements; in so doing, they can increase energy consumption and vehicle miles travelled that worsen climate change, or create sustainable neighborhoods and communities that mitigate and adapt to climate change. Our work at the Center focuses on education for the local community leaders to ensure that the decision makers have the tools and techniques to further sustainable development.

How has the LULC influenced Westchester and beyond?

Tiffany: During our tenure, we have jointly trained over 3000 local land use leaders not only in this region, but across the country in over 30 training programs. We have also passed this knowledge on to hundreds of our law school students over the years. We are so grateful for our time as students at Pace and all that we learned at the Land Use Law Center and we are so eager to pass that same knowledge and experience on to current students.

You are both very involved in your community – why is that important to you?

Jessica: For over eight years we have co-led a local Girl Scout troop. We think it is important to inspire the next generation of women, teach them about the outdoors, respect for the environment, and how to give to back to the community. Our troop has earned Bronze and Silver awards for their actions and we are proud of the work we have all accomplished together.

You have been quite successful as a duo at the LULC, what other ventures have you led together?

Tiffany: Our partnership in law school has expanded to an over 20 year partnership and friendship that includes not only directing the Center, but also running a Girl Scout troop, a book club, hosting baby showers for each other, joint birthday parties for our daughters, being co-class moms for our daughters’ class, teaching continuing education classes on couponing, co-teaching law school classes, joint presentations at national conferences, taking Yale School of the Environment students on international field trips, co-publishing books and articles, and more. It all started at Pace!

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.