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Member Feature

Our member feature is an opportunity to spotlight our members' hard work and talent while also getting to know a little bit about them and their various interests.

 

richard-liebowitz A Snapshot of Richard Liebowitz--Photographer and Law Student

Before he graduates from Hofstra Law School this spring, Richard Liebowitz, a student member of the City Bar's Committees on Entertainment Law and Career Advancement & Management (CAM), will have gained hundreds of hours of professional experience. He served as a contributing author to the Thompson West-published treatise New York Criminal Law and currently has a position at Worldwide Media Capital, Inc. reviewing terms of contracts and agreements for various theater, film and music projects. Richard's experience in entertainment hasn't come solely from a legal perspective, though. He has worked as a professional photographer since high school, and continues to pursue artistic projects even today.

"Throughout high school and college, I had a passion for photography," says Richard. "When I was a teenager, a photojournalist offered to take me along on his assignments. It was a life-changing opportunity: I got the opportunity to take photos of many sporting events, the Coney Island hot dog eating contest, the NYC Marathon, the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon, and much more. I still travel with him when I get a chance." These experiences led to the publication of his book, Apprentice! Lessons Learned on the Frontlines of Life, and furthered his interest in societal matters impacting artists. "I am an active member of the New York Press Photographer's Association, the oldest press organization in the country, and the meetings often focus on First Amendment issues such as the limits placed on photography in certain public spaces like bridges and subway stations. I feel very strongly in the importance of protecting these First Amendment Rights." The implications of these—and other—issues, affecting artists and the entertainment industry at large influenced Richard's decision to attend law school.

 

What do you hope to do with your degree after law school?

I am still deciding what career path to take after I graduate this May. I may pursue work as in-house counsel at an entertainment company or as a lawyer at a large firm with an entertainment law practice. I also can see myself at a talent or management agency, representing independent and up-and-coming artists, writers, and actors. I also have a strong passion for business and entrepreneurship that I may use my law degree with.

What made you want to join the City Bar?

I knew it was important to expand my network and meet attorneys in all different fields of law. By joining the City Bar, it has given me the opportunity to connect with so many lawyers who work at big firms, as in-house counsel and solo practitioners. You never know whom you are going to meet at the City Bar, they can be your future partners one day or they can refer you business. In addition, I also wanted to learn about the current legal issues affecting the entertainment law field and by going to many City Bar events and committee meetings I was able to learn a lot these critical issues affecting the industry.

What has it been like being on the Committees?

During my tenure with the Entertainment Law Committee, I've used my experiences as a photojournalist, filmmaker and artist to discuss legal issues affecting these industries with the members. I'm hoping to do a presentation on one of these issues in the future for the Entertainment Law Committee. Recently, I co-lead a presentation for CAM on leadership and how employers today can be more connected with their employees if they are great role models, set positive energy in the work place, and are more open-minded to the ideas of others.

What would you say has been your best experience(s) working with the committees?

Being on a City Bar committee has given me a real edge in knowing more about the law and connecting with other lawyers. The entertainment committee has shed a positive light into issues affecting the world of film, music, gaming, and theatre. Moreover, being on CAM has given me a chance to discover different career paths possible in the law and to learn what is expected from a law student coming into the work force. I'm happy the City Bar provides students with an opportunity to join committees and I encourage other law students to do the same.

Of all your non-Committee experiences at the City Bar, do any stand out as a favorite?

I really enjoyed the City Bar's Summer Series, which highlights different practice areas you can pursue with a JD. It is also a great opportunity to network; after a panel discussion on entertainment law, several of the attorneys that work in music, theater and film took the time to meet one-on-one with attendees. I would recommend students to come out to this series, as they can meet other law students as well as many lawyers interested in a particular field of the law.

Is there anything you'd like to pursue at the City Bar following your tenure with the Entertainment Law and Career Advancement and Management Committees?

It has been a true honor to serve on these committees and I hope to continue after I graduate. The members of these committees have been mentors to me and I would like to return that favor by one day being a mentor to future law student committee members. I also would like to participate in the City Bar's pro bono program when I become a lawyer. The program is so rewarding and really helps New Yorkers who are in need of legal services.

Has anything about the City Bar surprised you?

The only thing that surprised me was how many members the City Bar had. The number of connections you can make attending the events is priceless. I look forward to continuing attending events and meeting more members.

Do you feel you've accomplished the goals you first set when you joined the City Bar?

Yes, without a doubt. The City Bar has helped me in so many ways and by going to the events and committee meetings it has encouraged and inspired me to reach my aspirations. I thank the City Bar for that. This place is like another home to me.


Andrew TobelAndrew Tobel: Law School Ambassador

Andrew Tobel, a third-year law student at Seton Hall originally from Arizona, sought City Bar membership as a way to create a strong professional presence in New York.  His relationship with the City Bar has become intertwined with his time at law school and has strongly influenced his passion to pursue a career in compliance. Andrew’s relationship with the City Bar has grown tenfold after being selected as one of the inaugural class of Student Ambassadors to the City Bar. Recommended by their schools’ career services departments or administrators, ambassadors act as City Bar liaisons at local law schools, promoting City Bar programming and encouraging classmates to become student members.  Two ambassadors (one 2L and one 3L) represent each area law school. The senior ambassador from each school also serves on the Law Student Perspectives Committee to plan City Bar programs for law students.

Why did you decide to go to law school?

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and been interested in big idea issues with an analytical process.  People often don’t fully understand the complex issues like the law or economics and I wanted to learn a skill set so that I would be able to know my rights and take advantage of the best opportunities for myself. I like the idea of helping other people and businesses understand their rights and opportunities for themselves, too.

How did you first hear about the City Bar? What made you want to join?

I was born, raised and went to college in Arizona and knew that if I was going to work in New York, I’d have to build a professional network.  With help from my school’s Career Services office, I made a conscious effort to come in to the city and learn about different bar associations. I joined the City Bar, along with other bar associations in the region, as a first year law student.  Although I am still a member of the other bar associations, I feel like the City Bar is my professional home.  The programs and conferences really guided me and have given me a jump start into the compliance practice area.

Of all your non-Committee experiences at the City Bar, do any stand out as a favorite or memorable experience? If so, which one and why?

Specifically, the compliance seminars held in the Securities & Finance Law Seminar Series. The speakers were amazing and really guided me towards knowing compliance is the field I want to pursue, which was very valuable to know as a (then) second year student.

Did you have any specific goals or expectations when you became a Student Ambassador?

I wanted to bring students’ perspectives to the City Bar; I also really wanted to promote the Securities & Finance Law Seminar Series to other law students.  I feel it’s really important to expand your network beyond immediate school peers and it’s a great opportunity for diverse students. 

What drew you to the Student Ambassador Program?

My relationship with the City Bar has given me so much and I felt it was important to give back.

What activities have you participated in since becoming Student Ambassador? What learning experiences have you taken from it so far?

I felt honored to speak at the Annual Law Student Reception in September. It was a good experience to talk about the importance of face time at the bar and building your presence with the other members and staff—it allows you get answers on issues and hot topics of law that are not always discussed in school. On campus, we [Seton Hall’s City Bar student Ambassadors] promote the City Bar and its programs. In the fall, we promoted the Law Student Reception and Boot Camp and received more than 20 applications for student memberships.

What would you say was your best experience(s) working as Student Ambassador?

I’m in the middle of it.  Having the opportunity to give back to the City Bar; learning how to brand myself; providing an opportunity to build on the relationship between the City Bar and my school.

What other programs or activities have you participated in at the association?

Lawyers Connect, Boot Camp, the Securities & Finance series, and some of the Summer Series events.  Every event I’ve been to, the panelists have a good story of how they’ve made it.  It’s been inspirational and, I think, very valuable to hear first hand from industry leaders particularly on a subject area I haven’t been exposed to.

In what ways has the City Bar helped or contributed in your current studies and/or in preparing for your future practice?

Not only did I learn the subject area I want from the City Bar, but also how to follow through on getting a job in compliance.

Are there any specific committees you’d like to join after your tenure as Student Ambassador?

I have an interest in health law, finance, and securities law. I think I’d like to join a committee that can affect and influence compliance in general.

Has there been any aspect about your experiences at the City Bar that surprised you?

Having the opportunity to speak at the reception--I was very humbled and appreciative that I got to do that. The City Bar has a strong dedication to students.

Do you feel you’ve accomplished the goals you first set when you joined the City Bar?

I think I’ve exceeded the goals I had before and have now set new ones.  I have a bigger vision for myself than I did before.

Do you have any comments or advice to current or potential student members about the possible opportunities and experiences at the City Bar?

The connections and relationships built with one’s peers are so important and necessary.


tiffany-dunnTiffany Dunn: Working Professional by Day, Law Student at Night

Working full-time and attending school at night can be very difficult, but JD candidate Tiffany Dunn makes it look easy, finding time to be active at her law school and at the City Bar. After being admitted to New York Law School, Tiffany continued to work full time and is currently employed by KGS-Alpha Capital Markets LP, a fixed-income brokerage dealer, while attending evening classes at NYLS. Even with these challenging dual commitments, Tiffany has found time to contribute to the City Bar as a member of the Career & Advancement Management Committee. Last year, Tiffany coordinated the very successful April 2013 panel Careers in Compliance.  She was recently reappointed to the Committee for the 2013-2014 session and is unsurprisingly eager for more experiences with the City Bar.

Why did you decide to go to law school?

Prior to law school, I worked with adults with developmental disabilities. I spent a lot of time talking to them and helping them with job training. I liked being hands-on with my clients, but also wanted to help with their advocacy because they felt they didn’t have a voice. Law school opened my eyes to all the various ways I could help people. I quickly learned it is not just the disabled or disadvantaged who need help. Regular working people, like me, also need lawyers who will give them a voice. Whether it is helping someone with a business transaction or a housing issue, a law degree is a tool to help others in almost every facet of their lives.

What do you most like about law school?

The journey! As an evening student, there is camaraderie among my peers. We have all grown significantly from our first year tort and contract classes. We are finally accepting the gray areas of law and welcoming discussing the different creative ways to interpret a statute.

As an evening student, how do you balance your school and work responsibilities?

I try to stay super organized and keep plenty of Post-it Notes handy to write down ideas as they pop up. I have to prioritize everything and, unfortunately, sleep moves to the bottom of the list. I try to take advantage of breaks or days off to get ahead, or sometimes catch up.

What do you want to do with your degree when you’re out of law school?

I’m interested in compliance.  It’s a nice blend of my past experiences in health care and my interest in finance. I could see myself in regulatory, finance or hospital work.

Why did you decide to join City Bar and how has belonging to City Bar helped you thus far?

I first heard about the City Bar through school and decided to join because I wanted to expand my breadth of legal knowledge and my legal network. There are some things that you learn best through experience outside the classroom, and active affiliation with City Bar has been a terrific avenue for outside the classroom experiential learning. City Bar has a vast membership, which means there are a lot of different perspectives based on diverse and practical work experiences. I have met several members who have provided guidance and, of course, a few funny stories when reminiscing about their own law school experiences.

What drew you to committee work, particularly the Committee on Career Advancement & Management?  Did you have any specific goals or expectations when you joined?

Although I joined the City Bar in my first year of law school, it wasn’t until last fall that I joined a committee.  I didn’t have specific goals when I joined the City Bar, but I felt as an evening student I had a lot to bring and out of all the committees, I felt that there were broader programming options with the Career Advancement & Management Committee. There’s more opportunity to come up with specific solutions for various needs and an examination of different practice areas.  I can voice students’ concerns to the committee and have them taken seriously.  There’s also a sense of giving back: the camaraderie and support from fellow committee members who offered assistance when I was planning the panel was incredible. I feel privileged to have that one-on-one relationship with the other committee members.

What has been the best part about being a member of the Career Advancement and Management Committee?

The best part has also been the scariest, most uncomfortable part – putting myself out there and learning from disappointment. When you initially reach out to attorneys--whether as part of the committee or not—you are a little nervous that an attorney will not email you back or will say “no” when you invite them to a program. But once I make the connection with an attorney, I get a kick in my step. That connection gives me momentum to continue to build my network. I am already looking forward to reaching out to attorneys for my next City Bar program – how to help students manage their first legal internship.

Besides working with the Career Advancement & Management Committee, what other programs or activities have you participated in? Are there any specific committees you’d like to join after your tenure with the Career & Advance Management Committee?

I attended networking programs earlier this year including “Women in the Legal Profession: Leadership from Law School to Practice.” I am also interested in the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Committee, which wrote a report on the Affordable Care Act and its impact on employers and employees. There is a wealth of knowledge I can gain from that arena. Alternatively, the Young Lawyers Committee would be interesting.

Do you feel you’ve accomplished the goals you first set when you joined the City Bar?

Yes.  However, I now have more ambitious goals.  Now that I’ve gotten over the hump of my first program, I’m eager to do it again.  I feel like I have the confidence to want to reach out to people. I’ve actually been thinking about a program for my demographic: people working and going to school, specifically what is needed in making the transition from a 9-to-5 schedule to law school. [The Career and Advance Management Committee has looked into this subject before,  releasing an article last year on the subject entitled, “Why Getting Legal Experience as an Evening Student is Important and How to Do it.”]

Was there anything that you’d like to say about the City Bar that you haven’t had a chance to say yet?

I feel the City Bar really embraces the definition of diversity in all aspects: race, age, and experiences. There are so many possibilities that students don’t know about or take advantage of.  My message to other law students – “Go out on a limb.” Do something you never imagined you’d have time to do and become a part of City Bar. By becoming a City Bar friend, you get the advantage of the many programs City Bar offers. Plus, you will gain tremendous practice in meeting people.

 

Interview conducted by Courtney Fitzgibbons, Senior Director of Career Planning at New York Law School and Chair of the Career Advancement and Management Committee, September 2013.


Nicole Farbes LyonsNicole Farbes-Lyons Performing at the Opera House & the Court House

After performing in theaters across the country, receiving an MFA from the Peabody Conservatory, and an opera fellowship at the University of Oklahoma, Nicole Farbes-Lyons came to New York to further her opera career.  Since then, Nicole has served as the DiCapo Opera’s Resident Artist and performed abroad in France, Belgium, and Hungary.  Although still performing professionally, Nicole’s main gig these days is practicing law at CNA Insurance.  When asked about her unusual career transition from the performing arts to the law, Nicole says, “I wanted to write well and understand legal analysis. I didn’t actually intend to practice.”  But an internship in the Sixth Circuit Court while in her first year at St. John’s University School of Law sparked Nicole’s interest in a legal career.  In an effort to seek opportunities to gain more legal experience and contacts within the legal community, Nicole was drawn to the New York City Bar Association.  Nicole became a student member of the Career & Advancement Management Committee (CAM) and, after law school graduation, continued to serve on the committee.

What made you want to join the City Bar?

For law students, one advantage of being in New York City is the location:  New York City is the greatest metropolis in the world, and the City Bar is one of its premiere bar associations. The two go hand in hand. Once I found out that students could join the City Bar, membership was an opportunity I definitely wanted to take advantage of.

Did you have any specific goals or expectations when you first joined the City Bar and, later, the Career Advancement & Management Committee?

I expected that there would be good networking opportunities, and opportunities for me to feel like I was contributing to the legal profession.

When I first joined CAM, I was hoping that I would be able to take away information that I could share with law students at my school: ideas for creating networking, events, interviewing, and information about how to interview and network more successfully. I was hoping to gain those skills both for students at my school and also to provide better career advice for other law student groups.

What learning experiences did you take from your time as a student member and now as a member?

As a student member, being on the CAM Committee made me much more familiar and involved with the City Bar; I got to know people—the staff and the board—and felt more a part of the City Bar. Being an active member of a large City Bar Committee gave me insight to how much work the City Bar does to provide top-notch resources and programming.  As a law student, being able to participate on a panel with legal professionals was very helpful in career advancement.

Now that I’m transitioning from student to professional, I am in a position to help other junior associates learn the skills they need to pursue their career paths.

What would you say was your best accomplishment thus far working with the Committee?

My best accomplishment has been the program I organized for CAM, on Careers in ADR. The program had a diverse panel: a retired Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court in New Jersey, a managing partner from a major real estate firm, an arbitrator from the EEOC, and mediators & arbitrators from various firms. To see so many attendees and receive feedback that the panel was helpful was very fulfilling.

Have you been involved in any programs outside of CAM events?

I’m also a member of the Chamber Music Committee. That’s a unique committee because its purpose is cultivation and promotion of art and music rather than law and jurisprudence. This is my first year performing for them. I got involved by contacting the committee chair, sending my resume and bio and receiving an invitation to perform. I will be presenting a recital of operatic arias at one of their upcoming concerts.

How did your City Bar experiences affected you as a law student, and now as a practicing attorney?

As a law student, the City Bar gave me a broader perspective of what I’d be able to accomplish. Law school, in some ways, can be myopic. To be a good law student, you have to be focused on such things as reading materials and class rank that can make you a bit self-obsessed. The City Bar allows you to step outside the classroom and interact with legal professionals, where the emphasis is not solely on personal success but also on problem-solving and analysis that benefits the public and the profession.  Being a law student and having a legal career are very different, and I believe the City Bar has definitely helped me develop a legal career perspective.

Being on a City Bar committee is something that really stands out on my resume. I am more marketable, and even though I am a recent graduate I have many contacts because of my connection with CAM. Additionally, the City Bar offers students and professionals so much support and so many resources.  There’s a sense of community at the City Bar.  I’ve met so many people who are rooting for your success, welcoming your contributions, and developing ways that they can be more helpful.

Of all your non-Committee experiences at the City Bar, do any stand out as a favorite or memorable experience?

Nina Totenberg’s speech at the 2011 Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Distinguished Lecture on Women and the Law . That was fantastic! Ms. Totenberg’s speech was extraordinarily educational, engaging and inspiring, particularly her encouragements to continue progressing as women in the medical and legal fields.

Do you feel that you’ve accomplished the goals you first set when you joined the City Bar?

I do. I think that the goals that I had when I first joined the City Bar were not as broad as they are now. When I first joined as a law student, my primary concern was what I could get from the City Bar. Now, my goal is to be a part of something that is meaningful and strong, and has history in the legal profession—to be somebody who keeps the tradition of the City Bar going.

Do you have any advice to current or potential student members about opportunities at the City Bar?

My advice differs depending on a student’s year.  I recommend that 1Ls become City Bar members, attend programs in their areas of interest and utilize the Library. It’s a great resource.

For 2Ls & 3Ls: get involved! Though you’re still students, this is the start of your legal careers. The City Bar is your Bar Association; figure out what you can do to be a resource to the community. There are committees for every area of law at the City Bar. Even if there are no positions on a Committee, there are other opportunities to get involved.


Muhammad FaridiMuhammad Faridi—
Growing with the City Bar: from Law Student to Lawyer

Muhammad Faridi has been admitted to the bar for five years, but his relationship with the New York City Bar began long before his legal career. Soon after beginning his legal education at CUNY School of Law, he was selected as a City Bar Diversity Fellow and received a summer associate position with MetLife after his 1L year.

After graduating, Muhammad clerked for Judge Jack B. Weinstein (EDNY) before going to Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP where he practices commercial litigation and business reorganization & creditors rights. In addition to his practice, Muhammad is involved in taking on pro bono cases, which include advocating as guardian ad litem for a mentally disabled client and representing a death-row inmate in Missouri. The City Bar has helped Muhammad create a venue to explore his passion for anti-death penalty advocacy.

What made you want to join the City Bar?

I met Steve Greenwald, then chair of the City Bar’s Capital Punishment Committee. He eventually became a mentor. He asked if I was interested in doing research on a report about developing a model statute for compensating people wrongfully convicted that the Capital Punishment and Corrections Committees were working on, which I was. The report was published in 2010 and recently re-published as a law review article.

Did you have any specific goals or expectations when you first joined the City Bar or the Capital Punishment Committee?

I just wanted to help out. My goals were to learn about the issue, to do advocacy, and make sure I contributed to the effort to get rid of the death penalty.

What learning experiences did you take from your time as a student member and later, as a chair?

As a student member, I became a specialist in one area of death penalty law. As the chair, I get to set the committee’s agenda. I want the committee to focus on the international aspect of the death penalty and other cruel forms of punishment, such as life without parole for juveniles.

What would you say was your best accomplishment thus far working with the Committee?

This past summer, we put on an amazing training program for law students and attorneys interested in representing death-row inmates. The Committee also gave the Norman Redlich Capital Defense Distinguished Service and Pro Bono Awards to two people, David Herrington and Kevin Doyle, who have dedicated their professional careers to death penalty cases. [The Redlich Awards were named in honor of the late NYU Law School Dean Norman Redlich, a noted anti-death penalty advocate. This year was the first year the awards were given.] That was probably the most rewarding experience.

How did your City Bar experiences affected you as a law student and now, as a practicing attorney?

It’s allowed me to meet people who mentored me throughout law school and after. I was able to call on many of them for career advice. That has been one of the biggest personal benefits of my committee involvement.

Of all your non-Committee experiences at the City Bar, do any stand out as a favorite or memorable experience?

Lectures given by important legal figures still resonate; I still remember a lecture by Justice Stephen Breyer focusing on civil liberties post-9/11 that was very moving.

You’ve been a speaker at several City Bar programs. How has that affected your career?

I don’t think it’s directly affected my career, but it has given me a lot of confidence. I’m not shy about speaking in public any more. As a lawyer, you should take every opportunity to speak in public. It’s very helpful.

Do you feel that you’ve accomplished the goals you first set when you joined the City Bar?

It is too early to tell; I have many things that I would like to accomplish. As you accomplish some of your goals, you have to be ambitious and continue adding to the list.

Do you have any advice to current or potential student members about the possible opportunities and experiences at the City Bar?

Grab every opportunity that comes to them; don’t be shy about signing up for issues you’re passionate about. But always remember your grades and education take priority over everything else.

Was there anything that you’d like to say about the City Bar that you haven’t had a chance to say yet?

The Bar’s recently done a great job in recruiting young lawyers, and under the guidance of veteran lawyers, I believe the young attorneys can really blossom.


rossalyn quaye smallRossalyn Quaye—
Always Training

While working as a fitness trainer, Rossalyn Quaye had several clients who were attorneys. She heard what she terms “stimulating” stories about their work. That interaction with her clients was one of the main factors that inspired Rossalyn to attend law school and business school.

Rossalyn was determined to enter the arena fully prepared. She attended City Bar programs like the annual Professional Development Workshop series in the months before being admitted to Fordham Law School in 2009 and Fordham Business School in 2010. “These programs helped me be strategic about what classes to take, what opportunities to take advantage of, and how I present myself on paper,” she said. “From the beginning, I knew to treat law school as an opportunity to be a lawyer in training, not as an extension of undergrad.”

Soon after enrolling at Fordham, Rossalyn became a student member of the City Bar and started looking for more ways to become involved. “I expected to meet people, make personal connections with students from other schools and practicing attorneys, and generally become more aware of what it means to be a lawyer,” she said. She began mentoring students in the Thurgood Marshall program and was appointed to the Law Student Perspectives Committee. During her first two years on that Committee, Rossalyn served as the Committee’s representative helping to plan the annual summer program for law students, What It’s Really Like to Practice Law as A Woman. Rossalyn worked alongside lawyers providing ideas for program topics and speakers. Her input was greatly valued as it reflected students’ interests. She also contributed to planning the Law Student Perspective Committee’s My First series, panels designed to introduce law students to basic skills not always touched on in law school, such as how to make a court appearance, how to conduct a client interview and how to take your first deposition. Coordinating My First Deposition was a memorable experience for Rossalyn. “As a junior law student, I found myself reaching out to attorneys and educating them about the program and what the Committee wanted the program to accomplish. It was a great opportunity to take charge, plan logistics, and it got me out of my comfort zone,” she says.

Rossalyn plans on staying involved at the City Bar for years to come and is hoping to work with other committees. She encourages law students to be more active in organizations outside of law school. “Coming to a place like the City Bar and getting to meet attorneys gives law school real context,” she says.

Being a law student takes up a lot of time, and pursuing a joint JD/MBA only magnifies the work load, but as Rossalyn advises, “Networking with members of the profession is key to a successful legal career, and there’s always time for networking.”


Veronica Dunlap
Leaping onto the Legal Stage —a Nontraditional Career Path

Among the current generation of professionals, it appears increasingly common not only to work at multiple companies during one’s professional lifetime, but also to have careers in several different industries. Veronica Dunlap worked in not one, not two, but three challenging fields before becoming a joint JD/MBA candidate at Fordham University. A classically trained ballerina, she trained with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Dance Theatre of Harlem before performing professionally for 10 years. Upon retiring from ballet, Veronica founded and operated her own business that specialized in handmade body care products and childbirth services. While finishing her BA, she worked briefly as a Public Affairs Assistant for the State Department, and later in its Office of Foreign Missions. Veronica credits the range in her nontraditional background, particularly her experiences in the dancing world, with leading to her legal career. “There are aspects of dance that are not that different from law,” Veronica says. “Attention to detail, the work ethic, the competitiveness—it was not a hard transition.”

In her first year of law school, Veronica was encouraged by a mentor to become a student member of the City Bar. Since joining, Veronica has attended more than a dozen programs, often on finance (her practice interest) or diversity. She heavily credits the City Bar in helping her stay abreast of current trends and changes in the law, furthering her studies beyond the classroom. “The City Bar is a place where you can take advantage of all the opportunities to figure out what you want to do, what your practice interests are,” says Veronica. “The lawyers I have met through the City Bar are a tremendous asset as well. They are always open to helping you out.”

In addition to furthering her own academic and professional skills, Veronica is extremely invested in furthering mentoring programs for minority and disadvantaged students at the high school and college level. After learning about the City Bar’s Thurgood Marshall Summer Law Internship Program which places high-achieving inner-city high school students with legal employers for the summer, Veronica applied for and was appointed as the Thurgood Marshall Fellow, working closely with the Program’s director to help prepare students for their first professional experience by teaching the students the importance of finding mentors to help navigate the professional world, how to hone their communication skills, and demonstrate how to network with their peers and established professionals. “So many mentors supported me in law school and I wanted to contribute, to instill in students some of what I learned about networking, skills building, relationship building.” Seeing the transformation of these students is a source of great pride for Veronica. “They have matured very much, even so early in their development,” she says. “Seeing them interact with these professionals, at ease and confident—it’s no longer an unattainable dream. It’s wonderful.”

Today, Veronica calls the City Bar her second home. “It’s helped me grow professionally and personally. It’s a great place to make a difference,” she says.


Brian Farkas
Seeking the "Real World" While in Law School

After starting at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law two years ago, Brian Farkas, like many law students, was eager to gain experience with practicing attorneys in the New York legal community. His fervor for the different aspects of practicing law, particularly commercial and intellectual property, helped Brian obtain several prestigious positions, including a judicial internship, a legislative policy internship with the City Council, and placements in Cardozo's Mediation Clinic and Holocaust Claims Restitution Clinic. However, he wasn't just interested in meeting the "right" people or building an impressive resume; Brian was—and is—keen on building deep connections with lawyers to learn about and contribute to the work that they do. After attending an October 2010 Cardozo event where then-City Bar President Sam Seymour spoke about the opportunities at the City Bar, Brian became a student member in December 2010. "It seemed a more authentic way to find mentors, to really engage with the issues and the women and men who were working on them," Brian says.

Soon after joining, Brian became enamored of the City Bar. "I'm a huge nerd," Brian laughingly confesses. "I love the Bar Association library; it's such a great study space. I probably go to programs at least once a week and I'm constantly trying to bring my friends." At one of these programs, he met the chair of the Committee on Career Advancement and Management. Wanting to become more deeply involved with the City Bar and attracted to the Committee's commitment to creating diverse programs and encouraging law students to become more involved with the City Bar, Brian responded to the Career Advancement and Management Committee's ad for student membership applications and was accepted as one of the Committee's two student members.

In the year since Brian joined the Committee, he has co-coordinated two programs: "Careers in Art Law" and, "For International LL.M. Students and Attorneys: Navigating the US Legal Market and Planning Your Career." Brian says, "What I love about art law, and why I wanted to spearhead the event, is it's so multi-dimensional and inter-disciplinary: there's a transactional component, a litigation component, aspects of civil procedure, trusts & estates, property law, and intellectual property law." While helping organize the LL.M. panel, Brian recruited a former employer to be a speaker. Brian also recently wrote "The Value of Semester Internships" for the Career Development section of the City Bar's webpage, advising law students that seeking "real world" experience while they are still in school is not only worthwhile but a necessity given expectations in the profession today.

Brian hopes other students find the same benefits he's received from the programs: "One of the best things you can do is attend programs about practice areas that you think you'd have nothing to do with," he says. "The truth is you'll get a vocabulary, a context you can't get in the academic world. Just hearing practitioners talk about their successes, failures, and ongoing challenges has increased my own knowledge of various practices and made it far easier to communicate with attorneys."

Brian has been re-appointed to the Career Advancement and Management Committee for another year and is excited to continue working with "so many different, talented, active attorneys" to showcase the many opportunities and practice areas of the law to his fellow students.


Whitney Montgomery
Catapulting a Legal Career

Whitney Montgomery’s journey to being a lawyer began when she was selected as a Fellow in the City Bar’s Diversity Fellowship program, which provides first year law students from underrepresented populations the opportunity to spend a summer in some of New York City’s most coveted legal environments. Whitney was placed as a summer associate in Morgan Stanley’s Legal & Compliance Division, where she researched and drafted memos on matters of securities law, sales and marketing service agreements, and state regulations on issues ranging from in-house counsel to proprietary investment strategies.

“The Fellowship catapulted my career,” says Whitney. “Everything I’ve achieved since then, I attribute to being a Fellow.”

As she began her second year in law school, Whitney was eager to interact with lawyers who practice in securities and finance law, and saw involvement in the City Bar as a means of achieving this. Whitney reached out directly to the chairs and secretaries of a number of City Bar committees in these areas. After speaking with several committees, Whitney was invited to join both the Law Student Perspectives Committee and Securities Litigation Committee as a law student member.

As a member of the Law Student Perspectives Committee, Whitney worked closely with the committee chair to organize a panel on student engagement and preparedness for law school. The program touched on such issues as exam anxiety, how good and bad habits develop, and acclimating to law school. Whitney served as the panel’s moderator and went on to sit on several other panels for the Law Student Perspectives Committee.

In addition to her committee work, Whitney has been an active volunteer with the City Bar’s Diversity Pipeline Initiatives, which is designed to provide professional-related experience, development and educational programs for inner-city students interested in pursuing legal careers. Working with the Pipeline program, Whitney has helped high school students—her own mentees—improve their resumes, learn interviewing techniques and prepare for job interviews and placement. Whitney only wishes she had had access to a similar program in high school.

As Whitney prepares for her upcoming graduation from Touro Law School, the bar exam and her new job with Morgan Lewis in the fall, she is eager to continue her relationship with the City Bar. She encourages fellow students to become involved with City Bar committees, citing her own experience of meeting established lawyers who practiced in the area of law that she was interested in, the frequent networking opportunities, and the ability it gives students to stand out from the crowd in future interviews.

“I attribute a lot of my success to my involvement with the City Bar,” says Whitney. “It’s the place to find mentors, learn about an area of practice, and gain experience.”


Charis G. Orzechowski
The Long Haul to the Legal Profession

Of all the things you might expect to hear from the Treasurer/Secretary of one of the New York City Bar Association’s committees, one of the last might be, “The first tractor-trailer I drove was a 13-speed Freightliner Classic.” Granted, it is the Transportation Law Committee, but even so, Charis G. Orzechowski hardly fits the mold.

Charis’s road, as it were, to the City Bar was not without detours. After hauling “everything from computer parts to mozzarella cheese,” and delivering dry goods from a distribution warehouse to Tri-State-area Stop & Shops, she quit driving and went into training to take the police exam. One day at the gym she was approached by a retired police officer and current community college professor of Criminal Justice who told her if he could do it all over again he’d go back to school and study Political Science and minor in Chinese. So Charis enrolled at SUNY New Paltz and majored in Political Science with a minor in Asian studies and Chinese.

While taking classes and working as a teaching assistant to the president at SUNY, Charis decided to pursue a career in the law, but after taking the LSAT twice her score wasn’t sufficient. In the depths of her discouragement, her boss told her, “Take it a third time. You’ll get the score you need this time.”

Charis took the exam, got her score, and started law school, where she met the next character on her journey, City Bar President Sam Seymour, who was there describing to students the benefits of bar association membership. “I had been dead set against getting involved in activities that would distract me from school,” Charis says, “but as soon as I heard Mr. Seymour and the activities that the City Bar offered, I realized this might be a good place to be. What Mr. Seymour conveyed was not only a great opportunity to network and make connections, but the opportunity to be a living part of the policy in New York City.”

It was good timing for Charis to become a student-member of the Transportation Committee, which was being reconstituted and was looking for new members. Her working knowledge of road and infrastructure conditions, traffic problems, commercial vehicle issues, freight logistics and DOT compliance were heartily welcomed by the other members, who were examining issues such as a proposed increase to the allowed weight of tractor trailers. Charis credits her work on the Commmittee with helping her land an internship this summer in the Port Authority’s legal department.

Charis has come a long way on her professional journey since she started out as a trucker, which included a year and a half going cross country in a sleeper cab with a 53-foot trailer, when her favorite truck stop was the “Petro” on I-95 in South Carolina (“best buffet on the East Coast”), although she says, “You can’t beat the tiny little side of the road pull-offs in Texas where you can get burritos made with pulled chicken and real home-made green chili!”

Having received plenty of guidance along the way from others, Charis is already passing along her own wisdom about her new profession based on her past experience: “Just like planning where the front tires need to go so that your back tires can be properly maneuvered, planning several steps ahead is the key to charting your best legal argument.”

 


 

 

Erin Meyer

Erin Meyer, a third-year student at Columbia Law School, and an active member of the New York City Bar Association, is thrilled to be a student member of the City Bar’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Rights Committee. During her first year on the Committee, Erin worked with attorneys on the Gender Identity & Gender Expression Subcommittee to plan and host a pro bono Continuing Legal Education program for legal service providers with transgender and gender non-conforming clients. The program offered cultural competency training and practical tips in a variety of areas affecting low-income transgender clients, such as immigration, employment discrimination, and family law. This year, she has continued to work with the Subcommittee to advocate for increased access to healthcare and state Medicaid insurance coverage for transgender individuals. “Serving on this Committee has been an amazing opportunity to collaborate with and learn from so many talented, inspiring, and experienced lawyers who are highly motivated to advance social justice,” Meyer said.

At Columbia, Meyer is participating in the Accelerated Interdisciplinary Legal Education Program, a six-year dual-degree program in which she will receive a B.A. in Women’s & Gender Studies from Columbia College and a J.D. from the law school. She has focused her legal studies on Sexuality & Gender Law, participating in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law and the Sexuality & Gender Law Clinic. In the Clinic, she collaborated with fellow students on a variety of advocacy projects aimed at protecting the rights of sex workers, enhancing law enforcement responsiveness to domestic violence, and obtaining asylum for a young man who was persecuted in his home country due to his sexual orientation.

During the summer after her first year of law school, Meyer worked as a legal intern at the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF). While at TLDEF, she researched state laws regarding name and gender change procedures and conducted interviews with clients who faced discrimination based on their gender identity in areas such as employment and the prison system. After her second year of law school, she became a summer associate at Hogan Lovells, where her pro bono work included assisting a victim of domestic violence in petitioning for an order of protection, and researching Haitian laws as part of a larger project aimed at obtaining humanitarian parole for Haitian women who had been sexually assaulted in the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake.

Meyer is grateful to the City Bar for enabling her to participate on the LGBT Rights Committee, and she strongly encourages other law students to become members of the City Bar and to join a committee. “The chance to work with accomplished lawyers from a variety of different legal practice areas and backgrounds on a cause you are passionate about is an opportunity not to be missed!” she says.