Success Stories

FJHP Alumnus

Joe Marutollo, 2010

Meet FJHP Alumnus, Joe Marutollo (2010)

Joseph Marutollo is a 2010 Pace Law alumnus. He is an Assistant United States Attorney in the Civil Division for the Eastern District of New York, serving as Chief of Immigration Litigation. We sat down with Joe to chat about his experience with Pace Law’s Federal Judicial Honors Program. Here is what he had to say.

What initially interested you about the Federal Judicial Honors Program (FJHP)?
The FJHP offers law students the opportunity to work closely with federal judges and gain knowledge about the inner workings of the federal court system. I thought it would be a unique, challenging, and rewarding experience.
Tell us about your experience in the FJHP.
I had the good fortune of interning for the Honorable Richard J. Sullivan, who was then a U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York. Last year, in October 2018, Judge Sullivan was sworn in as a U.S. Circuit Court Judge for the Second Circuit. 
Interning for Judge Sullivan was one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. Judge Sullivan assigned me to draft opinions and prepare legal memoranda involving a host of legal issues. Importantly, over the course of the internship, Judge Sullivan personally took time out of his busy schedule to regularly meet with me and provide helpful feedback on my writing and analysis. My experience with Judge Sullivan was perfect preparation for my subsequent work as a federal prosecutor, where strong writing and effective advocacy are paramount. 
During my internship, I also observed Judge Sullivan’s tireless work ethic and his meticulous preparation for each of his cases—qualities that I have tried to emulate in my own career. In short, Judge Sullivan was, and remains, a wonderful mentor and role model to me. Indeed, for the last decade, Judge Sullivan has generously continued to serve as my mentor.
Additionally, after law school, I worked for five years as an Assistant Corporation Counsel at the New York City Law Department, where I served as lead attorney on behalf of the City of New York in over 100 federal civil rights cases, including six trials. One of the trials happened to be a federal civil rights jury trial before Judge Sullivan. It was a pleasure to try a case before Judge Sullivan; as in all of his cases, Judge Sullivan fairly and impartially presided over the trial and treated all those in his courtroom with the utmost respect. 
I am grateful for Judge Sullivan’s continuing role in my life, and I am further delighted to hear that he continues to contribute to the Pace Law community, including his recent role as one of the judges at Pace Law’s Grand Moot competition this past Spring.
What is your work like as an Assistant United States Attorney?

Serving as a lawyer on behalf of the United States of America has been the highlight of my career.   I work as an AUSA in the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. Since March of 2015, I have served as the lead attorney on behalf of the United States in over 150 federal cases, including four trials. AUSAs work on all aspects of federal litigation, from inception through appeal. Working as a lawyer serving the public is demanding, but it has been incredibly fulfilling and allows me to serve a cause greater than my own self-interest.
Can you speak about your role as Chief of Immigration Litigation?
In May 2017, I was promoted to my current position as Chief of Immigration Litigation, where I currently oversees more than 800 affirmative and defensive immigration cases. I also litigate a host of putative class-actions in matters of national significance, including high-profile actions seeking to enjoin the DACA rescission, the termination of Temporary Protected Status, and the use of immigration detainers.  

What did you take with you from the FJHP into your career post-law school?
Besides the insight into federal litigation and the work of federal practitioners, FJHP also showed me the enormous effect of an internship on a student’s career. Judge Sullivan frequently remarked that it is imperative to “pay it forward.” Similar to Judge Sullivan’s role in my career path, I have tried to “pay it forward” by serving as a mentor for my interns. In coordination with the excellent work of Professor Elyse Diamond, I currently conduct on-campus interviews at Pace Law School each year and my office typically hires 2-3 Pace interns for our summer internship program. Since January 2018, I have also served as an Adjunct Professor of Clinical Law at Brooklyn Law School, where I teach a seminar and lead the Government Immigration Litigation Clinic. I work closely with my interns and I aim to provide them with a valuable legal experience that enhances their career development. 
What are some achievements, personally or professionally, that you wish to share?
In 2019, I was selected to receive the Department of Justice’s prestigious Director’s Award for Superior Performance as an Assistant U.S. Attorney. I was also the recipient of Pace Law School’s 2019 Rising Star Award in the Public and Government Sector. I am truly thankful for both awards.
And, on a personal note, shortly after graduating from law school, I married my wife Suzanne and we have a four-year old son named Thomas.

An Opportunity to Help

Lesly Santos, '19

A Q&A with 2019 Graduate Lesly Santos, Immigrant Justice Corps fellow with Catholic Charities

What brought you to law school?

I have known I wanted to be a lawyer since I was very young. Attending law school was always a goal of mine.

Why did you choose Pace Law? 

I chose Pace Law because of the location and the small community. I did the big school thing in undergrad. I wanted a campus with grass and trees. I also was offered a good scholarship, but that was met by schools in the city as well, – what made Pace Law my choice was the campus and community feel.  Also, by the time I was applying to law school, I knew I wanted to focus on immigration law. Pace Law’s Immigration Justice Clinic was also a major attraction to me. Professor Vanessa Merton is very well known for helping law students become great immigration attorneys, and I knew that I wanted the opportunity to work with her. Additionally, I was familiar with the immigrant population in the Lower Hudson Valley, and I knew that Pace Law’s location and faculty would take me to where I wanted to be professionally. 

Were you always interested in public interest work?  

I always knew I wanted to help people, but I didn’t know exactly how. When I got to Pace, I learned about public interest law and from that point on – I was sold. I wanted to be able to help people who needed help but didn’t necessarily have the funds to pay for legal work. Pace Law’s Public Interest Law Center really helped me to understand what public interest law was and how I could be a part of it. Public interest career advising was especially helpful in guiding me through the post-grad application process, prepping me for interviews, and laying out my resume. Professor Elyse Diamond held my hand through the entire process and played a crucial part in preparing me for my Immigrant Justice Corps interview and connected me with other Pace Law grads who have been through the process. 

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

The Immigration Justice Clinic is definitely a clinic that anyone interested in immigration law must take. I’m also glad I took advantage of the Pro Bono Scholars program. The additional work experience that you get is invaluable. Those two programs have taught me the importance of public interest work as well as some of the difficulties.

What is one of your favorite parts of acting as a public interest attorney?

It has to be the relief and gratitude my clients express when I tell them that we are offering them legal representation at no cost. It happens every initial consultation I do and it never gets old because I know that others (both attorneys and non-attorneys) would have charged them sums that they could never afford for the same service. The relief on their faces in realizing that they will receive quality representation is the most gratifying feeling. 

How did it feel to find out that you were selected to be an Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow?     

It was amazing! Being selected as an Immigrant Justice Corps fellow was a goal of mine since my first year at Pace. Seeing how excited Professor Elyse Diamond and Professor Vanessa Merton were for me was priceless. I feel like they went through the whole process with me and it was a team accomplishment. As an Immigrant Justice Corps fellow, I will be representing indigent immigrants in the lower Hudson Valley at Catholic Charities – which is where I interned as a student!

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

I think you just have to genuinely care about the people you are helping. It’s often long hours with little pay, so you have to love what you are doing and care about the people you are helping. I was born and raised in New York City to Dominican immigrants. Growing up in an immigrant household, I was able to observe the difficulties faced by the immigrant community and I’m grateful that I now have the opportunity to help that community. 

A Rewarding Career

Hannah Walker, '17

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

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

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

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

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

Jonathan Campozano starts position as Associate Counsel with New York State Senate

Jonathan Campozano, '17

Congratulations to 2017 Pace Law alumnus Jonathan W. Campozano, Esq.! Jonathan recently started a new position as an Associate Counsel with the New York State Senate in Albany. While at Pace Law, Jonathan was a student attorney with the Immigration Justice Clinic. After graduating from Pace, Jonathan was an Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow with Empire Justice Center. 

Brazil and Pace Law: An International Experience

Juliana Marcussi, '16

A native of Brazil, Juliana Marcussi graduated from the Faculty of Law of Franca in Franca, Brazil with her Bachelor of Law in 2007. Shortly thereafter, she received her LLM from Utrecht University in the Netherlands and completed her studies at The Hague Academy of International Law and Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo in 2010.

During her studies and prior to her attendance at Pace Law, Juliana had “more than 5 years of experience in advisory and litigation in various areas of Environmental Law.” This included assisting in environmental licensing procedures, due diligence investigations, judicial and administrative proceedings, negotiations with environmental prosecutors under civil and criminal investigations, and assessment of environmental liabilities arising from soil and water contamination.

Juliana recalls that it was during the time she spent as an attorney in environmental law that she decided she wanted to continue her education. “Pace Law’s SJD program was exactly what I was seeking out.” She went on to graduate from Pace in 2016 with her Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) in Environmental Law. “My experience at Pace made me improve not only my skills as an environmental attorney, but it also opened up my eyes to environmentalism. My time in White Plains gave me the opportunity to meet people that were essential for me to establish my values as an individual, as a student and as a professional. At Pace I was able to see myself in the future as a skilled attorney and passionate in the area of environmental protection.”

Currently, Juliana is the head of the Environmental Law Department of Martinelli Advogados in São Paulo, Brazil. Juliana notes “Martinelli Advogados is a 20-year-old full service law firm, one of the top 15 law firms in Brazil, and has been acknowledged as one of the most admired law firms by the magazine Análise Advocacia 500.”

Prior to her time at Pace and since graduating from Pace, Juliana has provided legal services for non-profit organizations, such as The Nature Conservancy, Greenpeace, Wildlife Conservation Society and Amnesty International, national and multinational companies, and acted in partnership with state and federal environmental prosecutors around Brazil. “I love what I do and I am passionate about environmental law. I see each new opportunity and experience as a chance to learn more and educate myself in a new way.”

As far as the future, Juliana is working on her next professional goal, “to create new methods and forms of legal assistance to the private sector, aiming to encourage the adoption of sustainable initiatives within their operations, so that private companies become allies to sustainability.”

Juliana’s describes her experience at Pace as “living in an environment where scholars focus their studies and goals to find and improve sustainable solutions for the current economy, where people breathe environmentalism. It was a unique opportunity for which I will always be grateful. Professor David Cassuto and Professor Nicholas Robinson were simply the best advisors I could ever have. They gave me a completely new perspective on academic work, law practice and environmental values, which has helped me in both my professional and personal life. To become familiar with and understand their point of views on various matters regarding sustainable development and environmentalism, contributed significantly to my ideals, and gave me the strength and excitement to pursue my goals related to environmentalism in the world.”

Juliana remains connected to Pace, so much so that recently, she helped to organize and host the first Environmental Law Colloquium in Brazil for Pace Law alumni and friends. “It was a unique opportunity to strengthen Pace Law’s connection to Brazil, to allow Pace alumni to meet, network, and collaborate, and to foster discussion and complex dialogues amongst experts focused on relevant environmental issues.”

Elisabeth Haub School of Law Graduates Secure Major Immigrant Rights Victory

Craig Relles & Steven Haskos

Pace Law graduates Craig Relles ’12 and Steven Haskos ’11 have won a path-breaking decision challenging indefinite detention of asylum-seekers without a hearing. This victory is only one of several recently that highlight the outstanding work of students and alums of the Pace Immigration Justice Clinic. For more than a dozen years the Immigration Justice Clinic has provided free representation to indigent immigrants who are facing deportation or seeking to regularize their legal status. 

Mr. Relles and Mr. Haskos’ client, Adou Kouadio, a citizen of the Ivory Coast, asked for asylum at the Texas border in early 2016. For almost three years, his request has remained in limbo while Mr. Kouadio has been detained with no judicial review of the rationale for keeping him in jail. In August 2018, Craig Relles filed a habeas corpus petition in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. In December, a federal judge ruled that ICE had violated his due process rights. As a result of this ruling, Mr. Kouadio finally received a bond hearing, which was successful and he will now be released.  

“Pace Law’s Immigration Justice Clinic provides vital services to immigrants in Westchester and beyond,” said Dean Horace Anderson. “The work this clinic does, along with that of our nationally recognized immigration faculty experts, is second to none. We are proud of the work alumni such as Craig and Steven are doing to ensure that the rights of all those in our society are protected.”

Professor Vanessa Merton, Faculty Supervisor of the Immigration Justice Clinic at Pace Law commented, “Once again, the Law Office of Craig Relles has demonstrated that topnotch advocates can make justice happen, perhaps saving their client’s life in the process. Pace Law School has reason to be proud of the work of Craig Relles and Steven Haskos in securing minimum due process rights for detained immigrants.”  

“We are very happy with Judge Hellerstein's decision and we hope that courts will continue to closely scrutinize the lengthy detention of asylum applicants without a bond hearing. While their rights may be statutorily limited, the Judge sent a clear message with this decision: that due process under the Constitution protects nonresident immigrants arriving at the border,” noted attorney Steven Haskos.

“Securing Mr. Kouadio's release on bond is a just conclusion to his detention saga. Judge Hellerstein recognized that Mr. Kouadio's detention violated due process, and that the remedy was a bond hearing wherein the Government had the burden of establishing that Mr. Kouadio was a danger to the community and a flight risk. While the Immigration Court ordered a bond amount greater than we requested, we are happy that he will be able to enjoy freedom while his asylum appeal is adjudicated” explained Mr. Kouadio’s attorney, Craig Relles.

Craig graduated from Pace Law cum laude in 2012. During his time at Pace, Craig was a Student Attorney in the John Jay Legal Services Immigration Justice Clinic. At graduation, Craig received the Clinical Legal Education Association Outstanding Student Award. After graduation, Craig was selected as a fellow at the Pace Community Law Practice, a post-graduate program to develop competent, ethical immigration lawyers, where he worked on a variety of legal issues and cases and also learned the ins and outs of successfully opening your own law practice.

Steven Haskos graduated from Pace Law cum laude in 2011. He was a member of the Pace International Law Review in 2010 and 2011, serving in 2011 as the Case Note and Comment Editor. He began working with Craig in 2014, primarily handling habeas corpus petitions and appellate proceedings at the Board of Immigration Appeals, as well as Petitions for Review in the Second Circuit.  Steven works closely with young immigrants seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and other avenues to legal residence and citizenship.

In 2013, Craig launched the Law Office of Craig Relles with one focus in mind: justice for immigrants. The firm is based in White Plains. Working together with Craig and Steven at the firm is Christina Romano, another Pace Law graduate, 2016 cum laude.

An inspirational career

David Santacroce , '92

Pace Law alum David Santacroce ’92, Clinical Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Experiential Education at the University of Michigan Law School,  is the recipient of the William Pincus Award for Outstanding Service & Commitment to Clinical Legal Education, presented by the AALS section on Clinical Legal Education.

While at Pace Law, David was the Managing Editor of the Pace Law Review and participated in the Access to Health Care/Civil Rights Clinic of John Jay Legal Services. He recently was Chair of the AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education and a member of the Board of Directors of the Clinical Legal Education Association. 

At Pace, in his second year, David was the founding President of Equal Justice America, (EJA) a nonprofit corporation that to this day funds dozens of law students for summer and postgraduate public interest law practice employment – a total of over 4000 Equal Justice American Fellowships for Law Students seeking public interest careers in almost 25 years.  EJA has also established a two-year postgraduate Fellowship with the Dilley Pro Bono Project, providing free representation to detained immigrant mothers and children at the South Texas Family Residential Center, the largest immigrant detention center in the USA and another two-year postgraduate Youth Justice Fellowship at the East Bay Community Law Center, affiliated with Boalt Hall.  In addition, “EJA has raised and paid out more than $11 million in grants and has provided approximately 1.5 million hours of free legal services at programs that work to protect the rights of the poor and has launched similar state-level initiatives in ten states.  EJA still provides important support for Pace Law's EJA Disability Rights Clinic, and David is President of the EJA Board of Directors. 

Congratulations, David. Your work & career are an inspiration.

A Passion for Immigration Law

W. Paul Alvarez, '16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Philip Monteiro, '22

Tell me about something you've participated in during your time here that has defined your Pace experience.

The Military Law and Veterans' Society (MILVETS) has been a great experience here at Pace. I have had the pleasure of serving in two roles, first as Veterans' Outreach Coordinator and now as President. I chose to get involved with MILVETS because its mission resonates with me. Several members of my family have served in the military and I have had the honor of providing live Taps at the funerals of many veterans. MILVETS provides networking opportunities with attorneys who are either military lawyers or work with veterans, thus promoting career opportunities for students. 

What have you gotten out of that experience, and how do you expect that it will enable you to pursue your goals beyond Pace?

In MILVETS I have been able to connect with other members of the Pace community. Working to plan and execute club events has provided valuable experience outside the classroom. I have also connected with many knowledgeable and motivated people in the military and veterans' law field. I believe that these experiences will translate into life after law school, since the "real world" values people who can work effectively to produce results.

Is there anything else you'd like to add about your time at Pace?

I've found that anybody can take something and make it their own at Pace. There are ample opportunities for people to shine if they put their heart into it.

Path to Practice

Georganne Ladis, '19

Students can find their passion through various opportunities available at Pace Law. Pace offers opportunities for students to apply their knowledge and skills in practical areas. Through an exciting externship, Georganne had a rewarding experience that shaped her career goals.

Georganne participated in the Honors Prosecution Externship, which is part of the Path to Practice program at Pace. At the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, she worked as a student intern in her spring 2018 semester. She gained vaulable experience through the cases she encountered and the unique insight from her collegues. The Honors Prosecution Externship experience reaffirmed her desire to become a prosecutor.

Georganne continues to improve her skills that will help her when she becomes a prosecutor.  She participates in mock trial to improve her oratory skills and knowledge of criminal procedure. Through the Honors Prosecution Externship experience and commitment to improve her skills, she is placed in an ideal position to pursue her passion.