Success Stories

Michael Mingo '22

A Place to Call Home

“My experience at Haub Law has been a blessing. From my first day stepping on this campus, I knew this was my home for the next three years of my life. Not only did this school made a great first impression, but they have maintained their commitment to my colleagues and me throughout our legal education. I could go on and on thanking and being grateful to our career counselors, financial aid professionals, media personnel, professors, chefs in the dining hall, janitors, and so many more. At Haub Law, I am around people who accept me and are genuine – long after I graduate, it will always be a place that I call home.”

Michael Mingo is a 3L who is expected to graduate in May 2022. This past summer, he was a summer associate in the Legal Department of the American Civil Liberties Union of New York (NYCLU). As a summer associate, Michael performed legal research and writing, was regularly briefed on policy throughout New York State, and was given a variety of assignments on a weekly basis. Michael notes that at the NYCLU he was “primarily responsible for conducting legal research on pressing and often nuanced issues the NYCLU faces. Much of my work this summer revolved around protecting the civil liberties of all New Yorkers. In doing so, I worked to protect First Amendment rights, Sixth Amendment rights, and Equal Protection and Due Process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. I gained a more extensive network of skilled and passionate professionals.”

While at Haub Law, Michael is focusing on criminal law and upon graduating hopes to pursue a career in criminal defense. “I hope to join alongside a group of other passionate attorneys who, just like me, are committed to the individuals and communities impacted by our criminal legal system.”

Haub Alumni of the Month: Anthony Desiato '12

Anthony Desiato is a 2012 Haub Law Alumnus, former Director of JD Admissions and current Manager of Assessment and Advising at Haub Law, comic book and superhero aficionado, filmmaker, podcaster, husband, father, and more.

Can you briefly describe your journey to law school?

I started right after undergrad at Fordham, and I arrived at law school with a general interest in Intellectual Property, but no specific plans about what I might want to do with my degree.

Why did you choose Haub Law?

This is going to sound like I'm in Admissions mode, but the honest truth is that I came to visit for Admitted Student Day and just felt that it was the right atmosphere for me. The environment very much defied my expectations of what I thought law school would be like – stuffy, competitive, etc. It seemed like a place where I would be comfortable and thrive, and I'm happy to report that I was right.  

As a student, what was one of your most memorable experiences while at Haub Law?

Law review is definitely among my most memorable experiences. If I am being honest, a classmate sort of roped me into trying out, and I don't think I fully appreciated what a commitment it would be. It was a somewhat grueling, but ultimately worthwhile, endeavor, and I was a wiz at research and citation by the end of it.

Did you always envision an alternative career to the traditional practice of law upon graduating?

I did not originally envision a career at Haub Law as a student. However, shortly after graduating in May 2012, I started making videos for the administration on a freelance basis. Then, that fall, a full-time position in Admissions became available. Since graduation, I had been in the admissions department, most recently as the Director of JD Admissions, however, I recently started a new role at the Law School as Manager of Assessment and Advising.  

Switching gears a bit, how did your comic book interest develop?

My comic book fan "origin story" occurred in the winter of 1992, when a window display at a store in the White Plains Galleria caught my eye. They were advertising the landmark "Death of Superman" storyline. My parents bought it for me, and comics have been a major part of my life ever since.

Who is your favorite “superhero” and why?

Superman, always. At the most fundamental level, I have always been drawn to that character because, unlike many other superheroes, Superman is not driven by guilt or revenge. He is just someone trying to do the right thing because of the values his adoptive parents instilled in him.  

You also are a filmmaker, can you talk about the documentaries you have done?

During the summer after my 1L year, I found myself in need of a creative outlet and decided to grab a camera and film a documentary about my local comic shop, where I had worked for many years. It really awakened a calling in me, and I fell in love with filmmaking and nonfiction storytelling generally. I followed that up with two more human interest stories, one about a flea market vendor and another about an aspiring puppeteer. Most recently, I Kickstarted a film called My Comic Shop Country, which secured distribution in early 2020 and is currently available on Amazon, Apple TV, and Curiosity Stream. While the subject matter is comics retail, the film really taps into larger themes about perseverance and community.
Comic History

And, how did your podcasts evolve?  

Once again, my local comic shop proved to be the inspiration I needed. When the owner decided to close in 2015, I started a podcast called My Comic Shop History to chronicle the final days and relive the store's most memorable moments. I continued the show with looks at collecting behavior, conventions, and more. I cannot put into words how much I have enjoyed the art of podcasting; whether you are recording in person or remotely, there is a sense of connection during the recordings that is very powerful. I think that is why podcasts in general have caught on in such a major way. They are available on all of the major podcast platforms and I have been told that they really help pass a commute!

 What is next as far as a documentary or more podcasts?

I do have plans for my fifth documentary, though the pandemic has me in a bit of a holding pattern right now. Podcasting has been keeping me busy, though! I have launched two new ongoing series: the Superman-centric Digging for Kryptonite as well as My Comic Shop Book Club.  
Digging for

What are you favorite ways to spend your time outside of work?

Spending time with my wife and son, which I have gotten to do quite a lot of over the past year! During normal times, we enjoy going to the movies, trying new restaurants, and traveling. 

Haub Alumni of the Month: Timothy J. Koller '80

Timothy J. Koller is a 1980 graduate of the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University. He is currently the Chief Assistant, Richmond County District Attorney. Timothy is the longest serving assistant district attorney in the history of the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office. He has also served as an adjunct associate professor at St. John’s University for the past 18 years.

Why did you decide to go to law school?

I thought my analytical skills might serve me well as a lawyer. I graduated from St. John’s in 1977 and went straight to law school, graduating from Pace Law in 1980. I liked Pace Law the moment I visited for a tour in 1979. At that point, the school consisted of only a 1L class. I thought that it would be exciting to study the law in an academic environment that was in its infancy. 

Do you remember your first day of law school?

I remember being intimidated when I heard some of my fellow students quickly, and correctly, answer professors’ questions on the first day of classes. My previous suspicions that I would not be the smartest guy in the room were confirmed by lunchtime that first day.

What were some challenges you remember from law school?

Although I had a great time in college, my study habits were moderate, at best. Having to develop a regimen of disciplined study as an incoming 1L was a challenge for me. I had no choice but to adapt and carry on. 

Which professors stick out in your mind from your time at Pace?

I particularly enjoyed the CPLR class of the late Adolph Homburger, the Con Law class of the late Hervey Johnson, and the Torts class with the late Ralph Stein. They were all, in one way or another, instrumental in bringing me and my classmates along the journey of thinking like a lawyer. 

My favorite? Ben Gershman – Ben Gershman – Ben Gershman.

You are the longest serving assistant district attorney in the history of the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office – can you speak a bit about your career evolution at the DA’s office?

I was appointed an Assistant District Attorney on August 11, 1981, and began my career in the Criminal Court Bureau, where I was assigned to prosecute misdemeanor cases. In 1983, I was promoted to the Supreme Court Bureau where I tried felony cases of all shapes and sizes, including homicides. In 1986, I was appointed the Chief of the Career Criminal Unit, where I served until 1989, when I was named the Chief of the Investigations Bureau until 1991. In 1991, I was appointed the Chief of the Supreme Court Bureau, where I oversaw ADAs in their investigation and prosecution of a wide range of crimes. In 2013, I was named the Executive ADA, where I served until 2019, when District Attorney McMahon appointed me his Chief Assistant. I have been blessed to have come up through the ranks, and to now serve in that position.  

How did you end up focusing on criminal law? Was it always a passion of yours?

I had the good fortune in 1977 of having Ben Gershman as a 1L for Criminal Law. He was the one who ignited my passion for criminal law. His class was a transformative experience for me.

In the summer of 1979, I did an internship as a rising 3L in the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office. I worked for the late Bill Murphy, who was then the Chief Assistant, and who later served as District Attorney for 20 years. That experience tilted the arc of my career towards criminal prosecution.

As fate would have it, Ben and Bill worked together back in the 1970’s as ADAs in the Manhattan DA’s Office under District Attorney Frank Hogan. I stand on the shoulders of both men. 

What is your day to day like?

My days are long, and like snowflakes – no two are alike. In a single day, I could be representing the District Attorney at an event; having a meeting with our Executive staff; conferring with our Administrative Judge; speaking with NYPD executives on a wide array of issues; reviewing proposed legislation; discussing proposed arrests and dispositions on sensitive matters; conferring with my counterparts in the offices of the other four NYC District Attorneys and the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor, or being briefed on a homicide that happened the night before. 

What do you like best about your job?

What I like best about my job is working with the dedicated prosecutors, investigators, and professional staff of the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office. I really mean that.

Victims and witnesses are the only people in a criminal prosecution who didn’t choose to be involved in what happened. Although I learned early on in my career that I could not “un-victimize” a victim, trying to accomplish some degree of justice for them is the most rewarding part of what I do. I still stay in touch with survivors of homicide whose loved ones died over 35 years ago.   

What are some of your passions aside from the law?

I enjoy spending time with my family. I love listening to live music, which I have sorely missed during the pandemic. I enjoy volunteering at the start of the NYC Marathon, which my wife and  I began to do 7 weeks after 9-11, and which we continue to do. I also love Big East basketball.  

Do you have any advice for current students?

A law degree from Pace is yours forever. You have to work very hard for it, but it’s certainly worth it. Consider it a gift that you’ve been blessed with. Use it to do good.

Anything else you want to share, personally or professionally?

Whatever you do after law school, choose something that will make you happy.

Being a good lawyer is not mutually exclusive with being nice to people. 

As you grow more experienced as a lawyer, remember to do everything you can to send the elevator back down for a Pace Law grad.

Pray that you are as lucky as I am to be happily married to the same person for 40 years. 

Haub Alumni of the Month: Tareian King '21

Law Graduate and Entrepreneur

Tareian King came to New York on a one-way ticket from New Orleans, Louisiana. As a Posse Scholar, she received a full tuition scholarship to Bard College in Dutchess County, New York. Tareian recalls, “[w]hen I landed in New York City, it was night time and I had a chance to see the city lit up. It was massive and I had never seen anything like it. In that moment, I fully believed if I could make it to NYC, I could make it anywhere. For the first time, I actually felt proud of myself. Out of 200 students, I was one of ten chosen for this opportunity. As a senior in high school, I knew that I was interested in international law and Africa. I also knew that New Orleans was not the ideal place to land a career in that sector. I sacrificed everything I knew and loved in New Orleans to chase my international law career.”

Tareian acknowledges that things were not easy in New York. It was a tough transition from her life in New Orleans and she regularly experienced racism. Despite the hardships, Tareian made a commitment to herself that she would not return to New Orleans empty handed. “I wanted young girls in New Orleans to know that they could go as far as they wanted and that they could be successful. They could dream outside of Louisiana --while still loving where they came from and respecting their culture.”

During her junior year at Bard College, Tareian was selected to participate in The Bard Globalization and International Affairs, a program that allowed her to intern at The Global Poverty Project during the day and take international affairs classes during the evening in New York City. During the spring semester, she was awarded the Benjamin Gilman International Scholarship which sponsored her international law  studies at the University of Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa.

Tareian returned to New York during her senior year to finish her studies at Bard. She focused on her thesis, “For Better or For Worse: An Exploration of Law and Black Identity in America.” “After receiving my degree from Bard, I felt that I accomplished my personal goal.  I left a blueprint that allowed little Black girls in New Orleans to see that with hard work and perseverance, they could go far. Nevertheless, my career goals had only just begun.”

When Tareian graduated from Bard, she felt she had two options: apply to law school or move to Paris. “I chose Paris. Besides obvious reasons, I thought it was the strategic choice. I knew I would go into international law and French would be a necessity for the geographical areas I was interested in. Additionally, I would be an attractive applicant to international organizations and American law firms abroad. I found a job that provided me an apartment, paid for me to attend French school, paid for my monthly transportation and also gave me a monthly allowance.”  After Tareian was fluent in French, she decided to return to the United States and prepare for the LSAT. “I wanted to find a law school that made sense for me – community was important to me. Haub Law made the most sense. As a southern woman, I especially loved that there was a campus with grass and not just a building in the middle of NYC.” 

During her time at Haub Law, Tareian had a variety of interesting opportunities and experiences – many of which she self-created. “Upon entering law school, I knew exactly what fields of law I wanted to concentrate on. Africa and international law were always my goal. I spent my 1L summer working for DLA Piper’s partner in Senegal. I paid for Linkedin premium and wrote outside of my network. I landed an interview and it went very well. During my 2L year, I applied for an externship at the Senegalese Mission to the United Nations. Having work experience in Senegal enabled me to do a strong interview, and they accepted my application. For my 2L summer, I found a job post for a research position for the Africa Department of the Council on Foreign Relations. Although it was not legal, I did not hesitate to apply because I understood the intersectionality between international relations, affairs and law. I also was confident that I could bring a lot to the table within CFR’s Africa department which mostly focused on Nigeria.” At the same time, Tareian was applying to other positions to expand her set of skills in the legal arena. She ended up landing both the CFR position and one with the Open Society Foundation. Although CFR was based in Washington, DC and the Open Society Foundation economic development position in New York – due to the pandemic, both were virtual. “I worked constantly, but in hindsight it was one of the most rewarding experiences.”

Currently based in Dakar, Senegal, Tareian has been met with success. “The virtual classes made it possible for me to do law school from abroad. I made the decision to move because it made the most sense for me from a personal and professional standpoint. I am trying hard to build myself as a phenomenal international attorney and my focus is to get the skills that will make an actual impact. Working for DLA Piper’s partner in Senegal has provided me exposure to mergers and acquisitions, due diligence, and transactional work all relating to Africa. It has been a great experience and I have the opportunity to continue with them after graduation if I wish.”

Not just a recent law school graduate, Tareian is also an entrepreneur. “I have an agribusiness in Senegal and I run an e-commerce business, Nolafrique, which supports local artisans throughout Africa. Additionally, with my business partners throughout Africa who are international lawyers, project managers, economists, and more, we co-founded an investment consulting firm, The Africa Wealth Alliance. My current project involves building a private equity online platform that connects local businesses in Africa to international investors.  Working in international law while being an entrepreneur means that I am always busy. Thankfully, I have a dynamic team that helps with all of the projects, this allows me to focus and be 100% present in whatever I am doing.”

Tareian notes that the pandemic has brought some uncertainty with it. “It is important for me to have options. I have come so far, and the journey has been hard and long – I have spent the last nine years running after an international law career. Sacrificing my culture, my family, and my finances. I refuse to allow the global pandemic to hinder me from having opportunities post-graduation. Even if it means using my legal education on my own international projects, I will use my law degree. I have never allowed anything to get in my way of my goals, and I certainly will not start now.”

Tareian King processional

Shelbire Paul '23

2021 Rural Summer Legal Corps Fellowship

Elisabeth Haub School of Law student Shelbire Paul ‘23 has been selected for the prestigious 2021 Rural Summer Legal Corps Fellowship. Selected from 460 applications, Shelbire is one of 35 law students who will serve in the 2021 class of Rural Summer Legal Corps.  

Each summer, Equal Justice Works partners with Legal Services Corporation (LSC) to support law students who want to give back to rural communities across the United and its territories. Program participants, called Student Fellows spend eight to ten weeks during the summer exploring a career in civil legal aid, by providing direct legal services and building capacity at the organizations where they serve.  

Hosted at Legal Services of North Florida, Shelbire will support the organization’s response to legal issues resulting from Hurricane Michael, Hurricane Sally, and COVID-19. Shelbire's work will largely involve housing issues such as title-clearing and heir-property issues; contractor disputes such as fraud, liens, and poor-quality work; access to federal and state rehabilitation funds; and the development of affordable housing within the affected counties.

“Hurricanes and other disasters wreak havoc on people’s lives, especially those living in rural areas,” said Aoife Delargy Lowe, vice president of law school engagement & advocacy at Equal Justice Works. “We are very proud to support Shelbire in her efforts to ensure that disaster survivors have access to safe and affordable housing while they get back on their feet.”

Shelbire notes that she learned of this opportunity through Haub Law’s Center for Career and Professional Development. “I was very excited when I found out I was selected for this opportunity because it involves giving back to the community and serving the underserved members of society.”

You can find additional information about the program here.

Haub Alumni of the Month: Steven Epstein ‘92 and Alexis Epstein ‘21

Please enjoy this special father-daughter commencement Q&A with Steven Epstein ‘92 and Alexis Epstein ‘21 in honor of Alexis's graduation from the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University.

Q: Steven, your daughter graduated from your alma mater, Haub Law, how did you feel once she decided to pursue law and now that she is graduating? 

A: I was thrilled that Alexis chose the law and especially Pace as her pathway to make a difference in the lives of others and help improve the world we all live in. It is the size of her heart, her desire to succeed, and her intelligence that empowers her to help others. Becoming a lawyer and now a public defender was a perfect pathway to make a difference in the lives of others. How much more proud can a father be than of that.

Q: Alexis, did your father’s career as a lawyer inspire you to attend law school?

A: Absolutely, I grew up watching him. I would go to court with him all the time when I was younger to watch him in action in the courtroom. I saw the impact he made in people’s lives and learned that I too wanted a career where I could make that difference in someone’s life. I believe that being able to see the reality of what it takes to be a lawyer before coming to law school helped me in deciding whether law was the career for me. My decision to come to Pace was impacted by my father’s experience because he was able to tell me about what opportunities there were before even visiting. Ultimately, I chose Pace because of the number of public interest opportunities and I knew that was something I wanted to go into.

Q: Alexis, how was your experience at Haub Law?

A: My experience was great! I went down the criminal justice path so I took a number of Professor Dorfman’s classes such as Criminal Procedure and New York Criminal Procedure. Both classes were very helpful when it came to interviewing and I always enjoyed his classes. He has also become a mentor for me outside the classroom, which I have greatly appreciated. I also took Professor Mushlin’s Prisoners’ Rights class, which is something I’ve always been passionate about and really enjoyed his class. My last year I was fortunate enough to be in the Criminal Defense Clinic where we represented clients and were able to do so much as students under the practice order. To be able to apply what you’ve learned in a clinic setting was extremely valuable and helped me in securing my post graduate job. Lastly, I was heavily involved in the advocacy program, which solidified that I wanted to do litigation.  

Q: Steven, briefly, can you talk about your career and continued involvement with Pace?

A: I am a founding partner of Barket, Epstein, Kearon, Aldea & LoTurco, LLP and head of the firm’s DWI and Vehicular Crimes group. I have also been an adjunct professor at Haub Law for over 22 years teaching trial advocacy. During that time, I have also been coaching trial teams that compete at various trial competitions representing the School. Most recently, I opened The Steven Epstein DWI Defense Institute, which is an educational program designed to teach lawyers how to defend DWI cases. And, all Haub Law alumni receive a 15% discount on tuition!

Q: Alexis, what are your post-Pace career plans?

A: I have accepted a position as an Assistant Public Defender with the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office. 

Q: Steven, what would your advice be for future or current law students?

A: 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.


Will Acevedo-Hernandez

A 2021 Commencement Q&A

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

I will always remember my first day at Pace for being both one of the most exciting and terrifying moments of my life. As I sat through my first Civil Procedure lecture that Monday I was doing everything I could to quiet my mind and tune into what Prof. Mushlin was covering, but if I’m being honest, Civil Procedure was competing with thoughts of “Wow am I actually finally here?, Am I really cut out for this?, and geez these people are smart.” While I definitely did not get the sense of surety in myself that Pace has now come to give me, by the end of the day though one thing was certain—yes I would be challenged, and yes, I was going to have hard days, but if there was any place that was going to turn me into a lawyer it would be Pace.

What experiences throughout your time at Haub Law did you find most impactful?

So I have always said to anyone who cared to listen, that one of the things that makes Pace special is just how hands on you get to be. One of the most impactful pieces of advice that I was given which still helps me to this day came from Professor Carol Barry. As I was talking with one of my now mentors, she told me “Go into your first summer internship ready to learn and work, and everything will be fine. You’re not going to be given anything where they won’t be able to walk it back if you make a mistake.” I took that advice to heart and learned so much from my time with the Westchester District Attorney’s Office in large part because I wasn’t afraid to fully engage in the opportunity. That’s what Pace trains you to do, go into this work in very real and practical ways, ready and eager to learn.

What are your post-law school career plans?

I am exceptionally fortunate to say that I will be starting as an Assistant District Attorney for the Queens County District Attorney’s Office in September of 2021. QDA was the last place I interned at and I can honestly say, it’s an amazing office. I am excited to serve the People of the State of New York and the residents of Queens County in this role. 

What would your advice be for any incoming or current law students?

However you can, and as often as you can, always be willing to help. SO MUCH of what I have learned and accomplished while at Pace came from my being the guy in the room who was willing to lend a hand when it was needed. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but at least in my view, our community just has a way of bringing that out. Whenever I try to be helpful, it really is for the sake of being of service. But I wouldn’t be totally honest if I didn’t recognize that it’s in these opportunities that I was given the chance to acquire real skills that I continue to build on to this day. 

How would you sum up your feelings about graduating from Haub Law?

To put it plainly, one of the best decisions of my life was attending Pace. I knew I wanted to be a lawyer from the age of nine. I can be that specific because I literally made the announcement to my mom and dad on the heels of a Law and Order episode I had just finished watching. (Yes, I was that child). When the time came to actually get the knowledge I needed to finally achieve that goal though, Pace took the chance on me. I am exceptionally proud to say I am graduating from the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University.
Processional Will

A Commencement Q&A

Laura Schwartz, '21

A Commencement Q&A with 2021 Haub Law Graduate Laura Schwartz

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

I remember a mix of emotions on the first day of law school – I was nervous, excited, and a little intimidated. My first class was torts with Professor McLaughlin, who wasted no time before diving into the Socratic method. As someone who is inherently shy, I thought to myself “what I have I gotten myself into?” I think I spent the rest of the day perfecting my case briefs for the next class. Needless to say, torts was one of my favorite subjects and I no longer shy away from speaking up.

What experiences throughout your time at Haub Law did you find most impactful?

My law school journey was probably unlike that of most of my peers. My mom passed away very suddenly at the beginning of my 2L year, and I was not sure how I was going to put one foot in front of the other. However, with the help of Dean D’Agostino, my professors, and my friends, I was able to get back on track and succeed. Through the kindness of the Haub Law community, I gained the comfort and confidence needed to graduate on time, with high honors, and a forthcoming publication in next year’s Pace Law Review journal. That experience has truly impacted the trajectory of my career, and will be something I look back on fondly for the rest of my life.

What are your post-law school career plans?

I am currently working in the derivatives group at Shearman & Sterling LLP, which I hope is the beginning of a long and fruitful career in the financial services industry.

What would your advice be for any incoming or current law students?

Keep your eye on the prize. Law school can be very demanding; it requires a high level of dedication, focus, and preparation. However, through hard work and having the right attitude, it is an extremely rewarding experience.

How would you sum up your feelings about graduating from Haub Law?

Bittersweet. I have really come to enjoy my time as a law student, but I am excited to see what the future holds!

Haub Alumni of the Month: Ryan Naples


Ryan Naples is a 2008 graduate of the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University. He is currently Deputy Director at Tech:NYC, as well as an adjunct professor at Haub Law.

Why did you decide to go to law school?

I knew from a young age that I wanted a career in government and on campaigns so after graduating from college, I interned on Capitol Hill for Chuck Schumer. In 2004 when Democrats lost seats in the House and the Senate and failed to win the White House, entry-level jobs were few and so I moved home to New York to reevaluate my next steps. I decided that law school would be the best preparation for an eventual career in public policy. Pace gave me a merit-based scholarship, for which I am extremely grateful, and I decided to attend.

What was your law school experience like overall?

I loved law school. It was hard work balanced with extracurricular fun with great people. I think my most valuable academic experience was participating in the Environmental Litigation Clinic. It was challenging but great practical experience. I also appreciated the community engagement responsibilities that my case required. Law school taught me so many important skills that I still use today - chief among them is how to break down complex concepts into plain language and easy to understand ideas.

Currently, you are the Deputy Director at Tech:NYC – can you talk more about the association and what you do there?

Tech:NYC is a nonprofit coalition of approximately 800 technology companies in New York. Our members include large, international tech companies that are household names, as well as small startups. Tech:NYC works every day to foster a dynamic ecosystem, to ensure that New York is the best place to start and grow a technology company, and that all New Yorkers benefit from innovation.

In my current role as Deputy Director, I’m responsible for developing and implementing public policy strategies on issues related to cloud computing, internet access, privacy, the gig economy, antitrust, and several others. I work closely with our member companies to align on priorities and engagement plans and then directly lobby legislators and senior policy staff. I simultaneously invest a good deal of time coalition building with a diverse array of non-tech industry partners in furtherance of Tech:NYC’s public policy agenda. When I’m not actively lobbying, I spend the bulk of my time maintaining and building new relationships with New York’s members of Congress, state legislators, the New York City Mayor’s Office, and New York City Council Members. Finally, I’m also responsible for tracking all legislation and regulatory proposals that would affect tech.

Before working at Tech:NYC I worked at Lyft as a Senior Public Policy Manager. In that role I helped develop and execute Lyft’s legislative, regulatory, and political strategy in New York State and the northeast region.

You were previously Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs in the Governor’s office – what was that like?

In 2018 and 2019, my job was to help promote the Governor’s legislative agenda with the state legislature and simultaneously assist legislators to help them get their bills signed. My main goal was to make people’s lives better in New York State. The process of creating change is hard, especially in New York, a place with fiercely held opinions. On an average day, I would have calls with legislators and internally in the Governor’s Office and with state agencies to go over priorities. If the legislature was in session then I spent the bulk of my time quickly reading every single bill that was moving and trying to learn which ones had a real chance of passing both houses, talking to state agencies to double check on a bill’s existing law, and if there were problems with a proposed statutory change in a bill, trying to address those legal and technical problems before it passed. I had to ask and answer questions, such as: Is the bill going to violate a federal law or the NYS or US Constitution? If so, how can we achieve the goal of the bill, but without these conflicts? Will the bill add new responsibilities to a state agency currently without the proper expertise to implement the law as required? Is the bill solving a real problem or a perceived one? In order to work through questions like these, I had to quickly learn new policy areas on an almost daily basis, I had more than 20 state agency legislative counsels reporting to me and working through bills with me, and I loved every minute of it.

How did this position allow you to transition to your position at Lyft, where you were a Senior Public Policy Manager before moving on to Tech:NYC?

While in the Governor’s Office I helped pass the nation’s first Congestion Pricing law. During this lobbying I learned a great deal about transportation issues in New York. I also developed good working relationships with the legislature by helping many of them with their priority bills. For these reasons I was uniquely qualified for a public policy position at Lyft. Before the Governor’s Office, I also worked at the New York State Department of Labor where I spent years researching future of work proposals which would directly impact the workers at a ride share company like Lyft. For these reasons, I was well-positioned for such an exciting role at Lyft.     

How did law school and Pace impact your career?

Without the legal education I received at Pace, I could not do the legislative and regulatory work that I’ve done for the past +10 years. Just as importantly though, the networking I first started while in law school jumpstarted my career. The law school’s location in Westchester helped me stand out because we are the only law school in the area. For this reason, I was usually the only law student at networking events and this helped me get noticed and build valuable relationships that are still extremely important today.

You are also an adjunct professor at Haub Law – how has that experience been?

I absolutely love it. It’s a real privilege to get to teach. I value the students and they help me keep my knowledge of state law and constitutional principles top of mind and up to date. It is a lot of work and time, however, and I never fully appreciated the efforts my law professors put into teaching when I was at Pace. So if any of them are reading this – thank you!

Do you keep in touch with any other alumni?

Yes – so many. I had a great group of friends while I was attending law school. Many of my closest friends are the ones I made while at Pace. Our group texts during the pandemic have been lifesaving!

Had you not become a lawyer, what do you think you would be doing?

I probably would have become a reporter. I love other people’s business.

What are some of your passions aside from the law?

I am the father of two young children, so fatherhood is definitely a passion. I also love to read and am never without a book.

Jonathan Blackford

JD Candidate '21

What brought you to law school?

I started my own events business after working in hospitality for many years. Having my own business allowed me the freedom to consider what it is I really wanted to do, not just what I could do. I got my paralegal certificate from Hofstra and began work in the torts department of the MTA. It was a litmus test for me – how would I handle the shift to office work and was the legal world one I would enjoy – and I sure did!

The other push for me personally was a national ideological shift that I never expected. DOMA passed. I was in high school during the Matthew Shephard tragedy, and felt that my orientation was a burden on society that I should work to mitigate. After DOMA, it was the first time that I felt like maybe it was okay to be out and proud. I felt like a whole person.

Then, there was the passage of the ACA. I never forgot what it was like being denied medical care due to the lack of insurance coverage and being denied insurance coverage because I was diagnosed as diabetic at 16 – before I could even seek my own coverage.

These two decisions – DOMA and the ACA – allowed me to get married and obtain insurance through my spouse. My life dramatically changed due to legislation and court cases – and I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I feel that when you are blessed – you should spread those blessings. When I looked around and saw other populations that were still persecuted in the law – I knew that it was important that I get the education needed to change the system for them as well.

Why did you choose Haub Law?

I had a colleague at the MTA who graduated from Haub Law. She is a stellar attorney and so when she said I should apply, I did. From the outset, even though I applied, I was hesitant to go.

When I arrived on campus, Cathy Alexander and the admissions staff really changed my mind. She was thoughtful and kind; she did not “sell” the school, but presented the benefits. However, if I am being honest here, what really did it for me was the day I arrived. It was hot and I was a sweaty mess. My phone was dead, and I was stressed out. Before I began my campus tour, Cathy offered me a beverage – and honestly, that is what did it. She offered me a little bottle of San Pellegrino. Her simple, but kind gesture coupled with my previous work in Italian hospitality had me in love with this beverage – and somehow, this seemingly insignificant offer made me feel like Cathy really understood me.

Which professors have made the largest impact on you?  

Well this is a loaded question since I haven’t graduated yet, but each one has been stellar in a way that I love.

Professor Michael Mushlin – if you have to take a 9:00 in the morning civil procedure class then his should be the one you hope to take!  Professor Noa Ben-Asher was amazing for Torts and although I did not take her family law course (I wish I had more time!), she wrote an essay on the SCOTUS bestowing civil rights that really sticks with me. Professor Alexander Greenawalt – I have taken the bulk of my classes with this Professor because of how much I appreciated the classes he taught. To this day, International Criminal Law is one of my favorite classes ever. I could speak endlessly on this topic, but never with the same authority as Professor Greenawalt. Professor Margot Pollans – I was not at all interested in property law, until Professor Pollans. She took us down a deep dive into how interesting and important property and distribution is to our system. Professor Leslie Garfield Tenzer brings a passion that is infectious and that passion really makes you want to learn. Professor Bridget Crawford – I do not even know where to begin. Her classes are amazing. Her teaching is amazing. Really though, it is the genuine interest in every student that is striking. Some people pay lip service to “contact me anytime” – and others mean it. She is one of those individuals. She makes herself a true resource and I think that is so rare. Professor Van Krikorian – he is one of the funniest people I have ever had the pleasure of learning from. He is a subtle joker, but pay attention for the jokes and you will have an endlessly great time. Professor Tom McDonnell is the kindest and most patient person. His breadth of knowledge is so impressive and the fact that he puts so much into every class is not lost on me. I appreciate that his passions run along the same lines as my own, as well. Professor Vanessa Merton is so diligent about giving you the tools you need to succeed. She believes you to be a worthy advocate and pushes you to that end. Her hard work is something to emulate, and her motivation seems to track with my own. I feel vastly more prepared to enter the job market because of the connections she has made between my education and putting that education in motion. Also, although he was not technically a professor of mine – I want to add Professor Lou Fasulo. The advocacy program at Haub Law is outstanding. Professor Fasulo has crafted a program that makes ferocious advocates out of any who participate. It is one thing to learn the substance of the law – it is another to wield that power with might. Professor Fasulo arms us with the skills to really bring the fight where we determine the fight needs to be. Truly, there are facets of each one of my professors that I would love to pull forward with me.

How has the pandemic changed your law school experience?

Remote learning has been different. I think it was just another challenge to overcome. It excites me on some levels because it has forced the profession to accelerate the adoption of technology. Although commuting back and forth was a little pain, I do miss being on campus, however I have appreciated being able to sleep a bit later. I will say that several professors (notably Professor Crawford!) have been incredibly diligent in mitigating the impact. It has shown and once again aids in the gratitude I feel for choosing Haub Law.

What do you plan to do post law school?

I am currently at a smaller Trusts and Estates firm in Brooklyn, and if all goes as according to plan, I will be there for a good while. However, I will never turn my nose up to an opportunity and if I could choose one that speaks to me: I jokingly say that I would like to take Judge Judy’s place, but it is only a half joke. I feel like access to small claims is a mystery to most. It is a powerful tool that the masses have at their disposal to effectuate justice on a personal level and I would love to be part of an organization that helps demystify that process to those who need it.

What are some of your hobbies outside of law school?

I love to cook, and I love to play games. Video games. Card games. Board games. I love to travel – meet new people, learn new cultures and explore new less traveled areas.