Success Stories

Pace Path

Kevin Douchkoff, '19

The Pace University community is large and tightly knit. It comes to no surprise when a student completes their undergraduate studies at Pace and then pursues their legal education at Pace Law. As a Pace Pleasantville alum, Kevin immediately knew that Pace Law was the school for him. Kevin is now in his second year, pursuing a concentration in Criminal Law. He aspires to work in the District Attorney’s office as a prosecutor upon graduation.

Kevin has been able to work towards his goal by taking advantage of the John Jay Legal Services Criminal Justice Externship. This past summer Kevin worked in the Putnam County District Attorney’s Office and had the opportunity to attend town and county court daily, draft memoranda, and submit a brief to the New York State Appellate Division. This experience cemented his goal of becoming a prosecutor.

Kevin is also a tremendous leader on Pace Law campus. He currently serves as the President of the Lambda Law Student Association, which strives to promote equality amongst all people and seeks out opportunities for reform. Kevin explains that these reforms first begin in our education institutions and, as future lawyers, particularly in our law schools.  

Pursuing Passion

Miriam Lacroix and Stephanie Ramos, '14

When you ask Miriam Lacroix (’14) and Stephanie Ramos (’14) about their Pace Law experience, there are many common threads, but perhaps none stronger than their gratitude for Professor Vanessa Merton and Pace Law’s Immigration Justice Clinic. “Professor Merton is absolutely our favorite professor. She gave us the confidence to start our own immigration practice. Stephanie and I were both in the Immigration Justice Clinic and worked on many cases together under Professor Merton’s supervision. She, along with the Clinic, shaped our career.”  

Prior to attending Pace Law, Miriam already had a strong Pace connection – attending the University as an undergraduate student. “I had a positive experience with Pace at the undergraduate level and was eager to pursue a law degree at Pace Law thereafter.” During her time at Pace University, as a political science major, Miriam pursued internship opportunities in the political arena.  She was an intern with then United States Senator Hillary Clinton’s office and also with State Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins’ office. After graduating from Pace University as a political science major, Miriam was accepted into Pace Law.

Stephanie’s path to Pace was a bit different than Miriam’s. Prior to attending law school, Stephanie graduated from the University of Connecticut with a Bachelor’s degree in Human Services with a women’s study minor. “I was told by an undergraduate mentor that I would make a great attorney and that I could do a lot of good with a law license. But, I was 6 months pregnant and thought law school was a crazy idea. I decided to work a year or so and then decide on graduate school when my daughter was a bit older.”

Stephanie started at Pace Law in the fall of 2011, just after her daughter’s second birthday. Miriam began in January 2012 in the accelerated program. Both note how they noticed right away how many opportunities there were at the Law School to help others through participating in clinics and internships.  Stephanie was a legal intern with Legal Services of the Hudson Valley. “I was fortunate enough to gain experience in a variety of areas – from domestic violence, to elder abuse, to housing law. I even participated in court proceedings. As a student, I definitely gained a practical advantage as a result of my internship.”

In 2013, both Miriam and Stephanie became student attorneys with Pace Law’s Immigration Justice Center.  At the time, they had no way of knowing that this opportunity would eventually launch them later in life to open a law firm together. Stephanie notes, “[o]ur most memorable experience with the Clinic was when we helped a woman from Senegal and her two young daughters escape female genital mutilation. We assisted her in her application for asylum, which was granted for all of them. It was rewarding for us to know that our hard work saved her and her daughters from future persecution.”

Miriam and Stephanie were the first “Semester in Practice” students. They spent an entire final semester working as full-time time student attorneys in the Clinic. They were able to gain experience interviewing clients, evaluating, and analyzing legal options, investigating the facts, obtaining evidence, submitting necessary petitions, drafting legal documents, and appearing in immigration court (under the student practice order).  “We worked so closely in that final semester that we realize we really had a chemistry. We decided then that we would start our own law firm dedicated to representing immigrants.”

Miriam is confident that the Clinic gave her the confidence to eventually open her own practice. “As a student attorney, you are responsible for your case. You want to ensure the outcome is a positive one for your client. I learned how to act and work as an attorney from my experience with the Clinic. I am the child of a Haitian immigrant, so helping other immigrants was never a question for me, rather a privilege. And, my experience with the Clinic gave me the confidence to help people like my father.”

In 2014, Miriam and Stephanie graduated from Pace. Miriam was chosen as an Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow with the City Bar Justice Center. Miriam accepted the prestigious 2-year fellowship and functioned as an immigration lawyer. Stephanie was chosen as a Legal Fellow/Attorney with the Pace Community Law Practice. They used their time at their fellowships to hone their legal skills and start building the plan to launch their firm. The pair provided a wide variety of immigration services, including naturalization, family-based petitions, deportation defense, unaccompanied minors, asylum, and victims of domestic violence and crimes. Stephanie describes it as “a year of intensive experience as an immigration attorney.”

While at their fellowships, Miriam and Stephanie stayed in close contact – sharing their experiences as attorneys and preparing for the launch of their immigration practice. Then, in 2015 they decided to take the leap and open their own practice.  Lacroix Ramos, Attorneys at Law, LLP launched in September 2015 and is located in White Plains.  Naturally, the firm is focused on immigrants. The firm handles family and humanitarian based immigration services for small business owners, victims of domestic abuse and other serious crimes, migrant children, and LGBT families. Miriam notes “Professor Merton and the Immigration Justice Clinic, thoroughly prepared us to be zealous advocates for immigrants. We are confident in ability to help our clients, because we learned how to be the best attorneys that we can during law school.”

Both Miriam and Stephanie are very involved in the legal community. They are both active volunteers on non-profit boards, mentor interns and young lawyers, and speak at a variety of immigration events. In Stephanie’s spare time she enjoys spending time with her daughter, volunteering, and reading. When not at the office, you can find Miriam singing, reading, or spending time with family and friends. Both Miriam and Stephanie have the same advice for current and future law students: “Don’t tell yourself that you can’t and don’t listen to those who tell you that hanging out a shingle is crazy. If you love helping your clients, you’ll succeed because they need you.”

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.”

Student Bar Association

Sarah Cinquemani, '18

Due to the small and intimate campus at Pace Law, our students are able to really make a name for themselves. Sarah has been able to do just that, and was elected by the student body to serve as our Student Bar Association President.

Sarah was able to rise to such heights due in large part to her dedication to campus and involvement in various organizations. In her first year at school, Sarah was elected to represent the first year class and advocate on their behalf. She was then able to serve as Secretary to the Association in her second year because of the skills she exhibited right from the start. Sarah was set on being involved in the betterment of the student body as soon as she arrived on campus. Now Sarah is charged with overseeing the numerous student groups on campus, maintaining a budget, and planning events for the entire student body.

This tremendous leadership role, coupled with her certificate in Environmental Studies, has placed her in an ideal position to pursue her passions in the years to come. Any Pace Law student will tell you that student life on campus has soared to new heights because of Sarah’s efforts.

Unparalleled practical experience

Patrick Carroll, '15

Patrick Carroll (’15) graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Studies from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY in 2012. During his undergraduate studies, it became increasingly clear to Patrick that he wanted to pursue a legal education. By the time he graduated, Patrick had already taken the LSATs and applied to law school. In the fall of 2012, he began his legal studies at Pace.

Having always had a strong passion for environmental legal issues, Patrick primarily chose Pace Law because of its nationally recognized environmental law program. “During an admitted students visit, I spoke with Daniel Estrin, who was the supervising attorney for the Clinic at the time. While speaking with Dan about the Clinic’s accomplishments, I came to understand the opportunities afforded to the Law School’s students to receive both the classroom and practical experience I desired.”

Patrick also quickly learned that the School not only had an exceptional environmental program, but offered many other excellent opportunities as well, including the Federal Judicial Honors Program (“FJHP”). “Before I started at Pace I knew that I wanted to participate in the Environmental Litigation Clinic, but not long after I began my legal studies I realized the value of participating in the Federal Judicial Honors Program. Both programs provided unparalleled practical experiences.”

Patrick describes the FJHP as one of the highlights of his law school experience. “Through the FJHP, I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with the Honorable Kenneth Karas of the Southern District of New York and his exceptional law clerks. My assignments in his chambers were varied, intensive, and very fulfilling.”

He notes that between the FJHP and the Environmental Litigation Clinic, respectively, he had the opportunity to participate in substantive chambers discussions and file a lawsuit under a student practice order before ever having graduated from law school. In fact, Patrick was fortunate enough to have appeared in both New York State Supreme Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. “These were outstanding experiences, and quite complementary. The legal research and writing skills I had honed while working with Judge Karas and his law clerks enabled me to more effectively advocate on behalf of the Clinic’s clients.”

Patrick credits his experience in Judge Karas’ chambers with enabling him to comfortably transition from completing law school to fulfilling the responsibilities of an appellate court attorney for the New York State Appellate Division, Fourth Department, where he has handled countless appeals running the gamut of civil and criminal legal issues. “My placement through the FJHP entailed a very collaborative work environment. It gave me the confidence to openly discuss cases with appellate justices and their clerks on a regular basis.”

Now, after spending the past two years in the Fourth Department, Patrick is preparing to begin his clerkship with the Honorable Elizabeth Wolford of the Western District of New York. “As I begin my new position as a law clerk for a federal judge, I am grateful to have experienced the character of the work expected of a federal chambers clerk through the FJHP.”

“Pace was full of rich and varied opportunities and I was lucky enough to pursue many of them.” In addition to his participation in the FJHP and the Environmental Litigation Clinic, Patrick also credits many of his professors with giving him the confidence to fulfill his passion for the law and complete law school, graduating first in his class. “During my 1L year, I recall questioning whether I had made the right decision to pursue a legal education. At the time, I was taking Torts and Constitutional Law under the instruction of Professor Steven Goldberg. I was inspired by how Professor Goldberg conducted each lecture with the utmost professionalism and a complete mastery of the subject matter. Each student was treated as a colleague in his classes, which was something I greatly appreciated. Any remaining doubt that I had chosen the correct path was soon erased, and to this day I strive to emulate that degree of professional character in my own work.”

When asked if he had any advice for future or current law students, Patrick stated, “Participate in as much as you can, especially hands-on programs like the Federal Judicial Honors Program and the clinics. It was through these programs that I gained practical, real-life attorney experience before ever even graduating.

Patrick currently resides in Rochester, New York, and in his spare time he enjoys cooking, hiking, running, and checking out music venues. He is a fan of exploring new cultures and believes that one of the best ways to do so is by experiencing culinary recipes and traditions. Patrick also just finished a 50-mile ultramarathon through the scenic mountains and forests of the Mohonk Preserve in May 2017.

After Patrick completes his clerkship, he would like to pursue a career as a litigator in the field of environmental law. “It has always been my aspiration to apply the law to change our world for the better. I cannot imagine a more satisfying professional accomplishment than working to preserve and protect the quality of our environment and that of our local communities.”

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