Success Stories

Work Hard, Foster Relationships, Give Back

Meghan J. Summers, '12

Meghan J. Summers ‘12 received her undergraduate degree from Cornell University, graduating summa cum laude and first in her major with a 4.0 GPA. As an undergraduate student at Cornell, Meghan studied communications, a major which allowed her to hone her writing and public speaking skills. She also spent time as a legal trainee at a solicitor’s firm in Dublin, Ireland, where she learned to draft contracts, perform legal research, and even assisted in writing a book chapter on Ireland’s cartel immunity program. It was this experience that made Meghan first realize her passion for the law.

After graduating from Cornell, Meghan spent a year working as a paralegal at Kirby McInerney LLP, a boutique litigation firm in New York City specializing in individual and class action securities fraud, antitrust, and qui tam litigation. As a paralegal, Meghan learned the rules of civil procedure and legal citation – skills that would come in especially useful in the years to come. She also solidified her plans for law school, applying to Pace Law School, where she was accepted with a full tuition scholarship.

While at Pace, Meghan continued to work part-time as a law clerk at Kirby McInerney. She also immersed herself in every opportunity that Pace had to offer. For example, she participated in Pace’s Federal Judicial Honors Program, through which she obtained an externship in the chambers of Magistrate Judge Paul E. Davison, United States District Court, Southern District of New York. The Judicial Honors Program also allowed Meghan to get to know one of her favorite professors, Jill Gross. “Professor Gross was my mentor for the program and worked with me on my writing piece.  She was one of those rare professors that took a real interest in her students, always having thoughtful and constructive feedback and advice to offer.”

At Pace, Meghan also served as an articles editor for the Pace Law Review and as a research assistant for another of her favorite professors, Professor Thomas McDonnell, during which time she edited and cite-checked a book Professor McDonnell authored on international law and terrorism. Meghan also spent a semester at University College London as part of Pace’s London Law Program. While there, she took courses on various aspects of international and EU law. Finally, Meghan participated in the Suspension Representation Project as a student advocate, where she represented New York City public school students at school suspension hearings.

During law school, Meghan also obtained various legal internships. During her 1L summer, Meghan served as an intern at the John Jay Legal Services, Criminal Justice Clinic: Post-Conviction Project, where she worked alongside Professor Adele Bernhard to help exonerate wrongfully convicted individuals through the presentation of newly discovered evidence. During her 2L summer, Meghan worked on criminal and family law cases at the Legal Aid Society of Orange County. Meghan also spent time during both summers (and throughout the school years) working for Kirby McInerney. After graduating from Pace summa cum laude in 2012, Meghan accepted an Associate position at Kirby McInerney.

At Kirby McInerney, Meghan specializes in complex commercial litigation, including the representation of plaintiffs in, inter alia, individual and class action lawsuits involving securities and commodities fraud, structured finance fraud, antitrust, consumer fraud, and common law torts. She is currently litigating several noteworthy cases, including In re Libor-Based Financial Instruments Antitrust Litigation and In re Foreign Exchange Benchmark Rates Antitrust Litigation, the latter of which has already achieved partial settlements of over $2 billion. She is also working to expand the firm’s reach into Europe, where collective redress mechanisms are becoming more prevalent, particularly in the context of securities and antitrust litigation. In December 2017, Meghan was elevated to firm partnership, and is currently the youngest Partner Kirby McInerney has ever had.

In her spare time, Meghan volunteers with the animal rescue organization, Stray from the Heart, through which she rescued her own dog from Puerto Rico in 2015. She is an avid fitness enthusiast and is currently training for her second Spartan Race, and she also loves to travel internationally whenever she can. Meghan’s advice for current and future law students? “Work hard, have an open mind, and take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. You never know who you will meet, what you will learn, and where each opportunity will take you. Foster relationships with your professors, with one another, and with others around you – those relationships are invaluable. Don’t forget to give back. Being a member of the legal profession is a privilege and with that, comes the responsibility to help the less fortunate. And most importantly, figure out your passion and pursue it with all your heart. It is so much more rewarding when you live to work, rather than work to live.”  

Believe in Yourself

Minika N. Udoko, '16

Minika N. Udoko ’16 knew from an early age that she wanted to pursue a career in law. “While I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, I am a first generation Nigerian-American. As a first generation law student in my family and a minority, I always wanted to pursue the highest level of education possible that interested me. For me, that was always law.”

As an undergraduate, Minika obtained her Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from Brenau University Women’s College in Gainesville, GA.  During college, Minika decided that after graduating she wanted to relocate to New York to pursue her Juris Doctor. “Pace was a wonderful option for me. In my research, I found that Pace University’s mission is Opportunitas – this spoke directly to me as a first generation Nigerian-American.”

Minika was pleased with her decision to attend Pace Law immediately. “I had so many positive experiences throughout my time at Pace. During the Summer of 2014, I was a student in Professor Vanessa Merton’s Immigration Clinic. Professor Merton’s teaching style focuses on practicality. Also, I took Evidence and Negotiations with Professor Lissa Griffin. I also found her to have a very practical approach to learning. Both Professor Merton and Griffin encouraged me to go above and beyond and took a keen interest in my academic and professional development as law student.”  

Traveling and seeing other cultures and countries is also important to Minika. Luckily, she was able to participate in two study abroad programs while at Pace. “I traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil through the Environmental Law Program and learned about the environmental regimes of the United States and Brazil. I also was able to travel to London and focus on comparative counterterrorism law. Both of these study abroad experiences further enriched my legal knowledge and understanding of the respective issues we focused on.”

Minika notes that during her time at Pace Law she was exposed to a variety of practical experiences and opportunities. “I had internships at Safe Horizon with their Domestic Violence Law Project, with Urban Justice Project, the Housing Unit of Manhattan Legal Services, and the New York City Housing Authority’s Law Department. I was also fortunate to have the opportunity to be a student attorney with Pace Law’s Barbara C. Salken Criminal Justice Clinic. When I graduated, because of all of these experiences, I felt a step ahead in terms of practical experience and my ability to jump into a variety of situations already knowledgeable.”

After graduating, Minika joined the New York State Bar Association as Special Projects Lead. From there, she became Manager of Section and Solo-Small Firm Member Outreach. And, recently, Minika started in a new position with the NYSBA, Diversity and Inclusion Specialist. “As Diversity and Inclusion Specialist, I am responsible for overseeing the Association’s efforts to increase diversity and inclusion in the Association and the legal profession through educational programming and outreach in coordination with the Association's committees and sections. This position is extremely important to me because of my personal background. I feel honored to be able to serve as a resource to the NYSBA committees, sections, and staff liaisons regarding programming focused on promoting diversity and inclusion, and the elimination of bias.”

When asked what advice she would have for current and future law students, Minika’s answer is two-part. “Stay involved. I was a member of several student organizations and not only does it give you different perspectives, but it gives you a core group of individuals to network with. And, my other advice comes from my late grandmother, who is my greatest inspiration, she encouraged and supported my dreams of becoming a lawyer as a child. As a result of her, I have always strongly believed in the Eleanor Roosevelt quote “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” I would encourage all law students to do the same – believe in yourself and your dreams.”

A Leading Environmental Scholar

Dr. Mingde Cao, SJD

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

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

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

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

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

An Alternative Career

Kate L. Harrison, '08

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Instrumental Education

Maria Antonia Tigre, LLM '14, SJD Candidate

Maria Antonia Tigre a Pace Law LLM graduate ('14), Pace Law SJD candidate, and Senior Environmental Attorney at the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice, recently published her book "Regional Cooperation in Amazonia: A Comparative Environmental Law Analysis," which provides a broad overview of the international, regional, and national laws applied to the Amazon rainforest and investigates efforts at regional cooperation for the protection of the Amazonian ecosystem, including an in-depth analysis of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO). Learning about comparative environmental law from Prof. Nicholas Robinson, Ms. Tigre discovered how the field can be “fascinating,” as different countries find different legal alternatives to similar problems, especially in a shared ecosystem as the Amazon rainforest.

Ms. Tigre started her career in Brazil, where she worked in a boutique environmental law firm. She then advised infrastructure companies on environmental impact assessments, permitting procedures and environmental due diligences. Wanting to take her studies further, Ms. Tigre applied and was accepted into Pace Law’s LLM programs. She graduated magna cum laude with an LLM in Environmental Law and also an LLM in Comparative Legal Studies. Through Pace’s Environmental Diplomacy Practicum, she interned with the United Nations. She was assigned to the Mission of Saint Kitts and Nevis and focused on the impact of climate change on small island states.

After graduation, Ms. Tigre had a fellowship with the World Resources Institute, where she developed a toolkit for good governance in cities in developing countries, such as her hometown of Rio de Janeiro. As a senior attorney at the Environment Program at the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice, Ms. Tigre provides pro bono legal support to environmental NGOs across the globe. Ms. Tigre is currently pursuing her SJD in Environmental Law at Pace. “I cannot overstate the usefulness of Pace’s LLM and SJD programs. The curriculum has made me a better attorney and in turn, a better advocate for my clients. In addition, it has made me an improved scholar in terms of research, writing, and teaching. As my supervisor both in my LLM and SJD thesis, Prof. Robinson has been instrumental in helping me shape my career in the US, and his support was paramount in publishing my first book.”

Other recent publications of Ms. Tigre’s include an article entitled ‘Cooperation for Climate Mitigation in Amazonia: Brazil’s Emerging Role as a Regional Leader’ in the Transnational Environmental Law (TEL) journal published by Cambridge University Press and a book chapter about the Dutch Urgenda Case, entitled ‘Trends in Climate Justice Litigation: The Dutch Case and Global Repercussions’ in Climate Justice: Case Studies in Global Regional Governance Challenges.

Stepping Stones to a Career

Britny Auletti, '17

Britny Auletti ('17) graduated from Fordham University in 2014 with a B.S. in Finance. She was confident that she wanted to continue to learn more about corporate law and securities regulation by attending law school.  Prior to law school, Britny had interned and worked in the legal field, and also during undergraduate school Britny had worked as a legal assistant for a firm in the City.

While Britny was at Pace she was very active and participated in several clubs, a trial team, the Pace Investor Rights Clinic, and the Corporate Externship program. “I was the treasurer for the Italian American Law Organization, and the Pace Law Tax Society Vice President. My experiences both inside and outside of the classroom gave me to opportunity to seek guidance from others in the Pace community and network with attorneys in different fields.” Throughout law school, Britny was an intern with various corporations. She was a summer associate with AIG for two summers and a legal intern with Marsh & McLennan Companies. “Through my internship experiences I was able to meet mentors, and enhance my writing and research skills. My internships help me realize my passion for corporate and securities legal work.”

Britny’s classroom experiences at Pace are what she calls “stepping stones” to her career in the financial regulatory industry. In particular, three professors stick out in Britny’s mind: Professors Jill Gross, Jane Shahmanesh, and Elissa Germaine. “Each of them taught me a great deal about the securities industry. Their classes gave me a solid foundation for my current job at FINRA (the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority). Each professor brought their unique real life experiences into the classroom, which inspired me to pursue a career in the field.”

However, if you ask Britny the best decision she made during her time as a student at Pace Law, her answer is simple:  participating in the Investor Rights Clinic. “The Clinic had an immense impact on not only my law school experience, but my career path as well. It afforded me the opportunity to learn that some of the most important lawyering skills are taught outside of the classroom. I learned how to be a passionate advocate for my clients who did not always have a voice or know where to turn when they felt they had been wronged by their broker.  The Clinic provided me with a unique environment where we were forced to think on our feet and outside of the box. Professor Germaine helped me become a stronger writer by taking the time to review multiple drafts and teaching us the importance of paying attention to detail.  Most importantly, while, yes, the clinic helped me solidify my desire to work in the securities regulation industry, it also helped me figure out my passion for helping those who do not always have a voice.”

During her winter break of 3L, Britny received the news she was hoping to hear. “I received an offer from FINRA to work for them as an associate examiner. I was thrilled to receive the offer and I was equally thrilled to share the news of the offer with Professors Gross, Shahmanesh, and Germaine. Each had been such an integral part of my experience at Pace and knew how much I wanted to work at FINRA.”

As an Associate Examiner at FINRA, Britny participates in examinations, sweeps, and task forces of FINRA registered broker-dealers. “Every day at FINRA we work to deter broker misconduct through in-person examinations of brokerage firms to make sure they are following the rules, detect and prevent fraud in the markets, and disciple those who break the rules. I love my job because I feel the work is very important and I get learn something new every day.”

Recently, Britny was awarded first place in the 2017 James E. Beckley Writing Competition sponsored by PIABA (Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association).  The paper, supervised by Professor Elissa Germaine, is entitled “Bice, Bice Baby: Are Investors Getting the Cold Shoulder? An Overview of the Department of Labor’s Proposed Fiduciary Duty Rule and Its Potential Impacts.”  The paper will be published in the next PIABA law journal and Britny was invited to attend the annual PIABA conference in Colorado. 

Britny is a firm advocate of staying involved and also giving back to the larger law school community. “I recently helped judge the St. John’s FINRA Triathlon Competition - it is a negotiation, mediation, and arbitration competition. As a 3L at Pace, I participated in the same competition and helped FINRA with the event this year.” Additionally, Britny believes it is important to stay involved in the Pace community. “I was also lucky enough to be able to come back to Pace to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Investor Rights Clinic. For me, it was especially important to be a part of this celebration because the Clinic helped me discover my passion for investors’ rights.”

Britny reflected on an assignment from the Investor Rights Clinic that has stuck with her since. “We were asked to write a memo about our goals, obstacles we may face while trying to achieving these goals, and how we plan to ultimately overcome those obstacles. My main goal each semester was to learn how to best communicate with clients and develop more empathy towards their situations – skills that can only learned though simulations, practice, and several awkward first phone calls. This assignment provided me a final opportunity to take a step back from grades and outlines and ask myself two very difficult questions – Do I truly have the skills required to be a lawyer? And what kind of lawyer do I want to be? By the end of year I could answer both of these questions. To be a great lawyer you need to work hard, always keep learning and honing your skills, and never lose your passion for the law. I want to be the kind of lawyer that tirelessly advocates for those who do not have a voice and one who stands up for justice.”

Britny was excited to share that she just passed the New York bar examination and is looking forward to life in the professional world. “I think that students and young alumni should not be afraid to follow their passion and to network. I was able to find great mentors both inside and outside of the Pace community that still continue to give me guidance and support. Throughout my law school journey I learned that hard work and dedication make all the difference. I am very thankful for each member of the Pace community that helped me get to where I am today.”

Community

Josh Berliner, '18

A law student’s largest concern is post-graduate placement. At Pace Law, our Center for Career and Professional Development is devoted to assisting our students in their search for gainful employment. Josh has been fortunate enough to obtain a judicial clerkship in the Morris County Superior Court in Morristown, New Jersey.

As a prospective law student, Josh knew he wanted to pursue a career in environmental law in the New York metropolitan area. After choosing Pace Law, Josh was able to fully explore his interests, through volunteer work at the Pace Land Use Law Center, clerking in the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and interning in the District Court for the Southern District of New York. Josh was able to highlight this all in his clerkship application, ultimately landing him his future placement.

Josh is excited for graduation, but laments that he will be leaving the Pace Law community that he has grown to love these past three years. “It’s a close-knit community where most people know each other and get together outside of school on a regular basis,” Josh says. “I live for those moments each day when I run into people I know and say hello.”

Non-Traditional Student

Patricia Petrosky, '19

Studying to become an attorney is difficult and time consuming; however, here at Pace Law we recognize that our students have obligations other than their studies. Patricia is not only able to rank strongly in her class, but is a wife and mother of two young children.

While it may be arduous to for her to juggle so much, she credits her success to the accommodating and collegial atmosphere here at Pace Law. Patricia explains, “While some level of competition amongst students is evident, the overall culture of the school can be best described as a place where students, faculty, and staff are accommodating, resourceful, and respectful to one another.” Patricia especially highlights the willingness of upper level students to share their knowledge and help our underclassman in any way that they can. Through the Dean Scholar Program, all first year classes are assigned an upper level student who has completed that class with high marks, and is able to provide insight and support. Patricia has found it helpful to reach out to those students, converse substantively regarding the subject matter, and obtain tips and tricks for the class.

Upper level students are not the only ones ready and willing to help our students. Patricia was able to obtain a prestigious internship at the New York State Attorney General’s Office this past summer and credits a large portion of her success obtaining this position to the help of our Center for Career and Professional Development. Career Development staff guided Patricia throughout the application process, helped her revise her resume, and conducted several mock interviews to guarantee her preparedness. Pace Law’s collegial and community environment has been hugely beneficial to Patricia in ensuring her success, while also allowing her to support and enjoy her family!

 

Location

Savannah Bowling, '19

Pace Law offers a diverse population of students. While a large portion of that may consist of students from the local tristate area, students travel from across the nation to attend law school at Pace Law. Savannah, originally from Emerson, Georgia, was drawn to Pace Law for a multitude of reasons.

Savannah recognizes that the Pace Law campus is extremely conducive to a scholarly environment, as it is separated from the other two Pace University undergraduate campuses. This results in a quiet, secluded campus, while still affording our students the opportunity to travel into NYC or enjoy all that White Plains has to offer. Because of this synergy, Savannah finds that campus is warm, comfortable, and less distracting. Pace Law’s geographical location also allows our students to participate substantively in the legal world at large.

After completing one of her first year courses, Savannah was able to form a strong bond with one of her professors due to her frequent participation in class and shared interest in environmental law. Her professor allowed Savannah to join him at the Corporation Counsel Roundtable, a New York State regulatory meeting regarding environmental law and land use projects. Savannah helped her professor draft zoning initiatives, shared parking agreements, and plans to revitalize industrial zones while maintaining industry. Looking back, Savannah had a rewarding experience, where she felt she really made an impact on New York State environmental procedures – all thanks to the willingness of her professor to teach and include her, and the conducive nature of Pace Law.

Environmental Law Review

Zach Berliner, '18

One way that law school students hone their legal writing skills is on the law review. Pace has three different law reviews for which students can write and edit:  the Pace Law Review, Pace International Law Review and the Pace Environmental Law Review.

Zach participated in the law review write-on competition after he completed his first year in law school. After demonstrating strong writing skills, Zach was accepted as a Junior Associate on the Pace Environmental Law Review. During his second year, Zach drafted and finalized his own piece of scholarly writing on a topic of his choosing, while editing other articles for publication. He was then elected to serve as the Editor-in-Chief for the Environmental Review in his third year.

Zach is currently charged with leading the law review, accepting articles from scholars around the world for publication, and mentoring Junior Associates to ensure their skills are developed. He is currently pursuing post-graduation placements.

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