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Alumni Profiles

Learn more about our most accomplished alumni. They are a distinguished group of leading public officials & judges, law firm partners, public interest advocates, and business leaders. In each of our BLSLawNotes magazine issues, we profile a few of our best and most loyal assets - our graduates.

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  • In 1981, Nancy Hershey Lord, Class of 1980, became the first law clerk for legendary Brooklyn-based Bankruptcy Judge Conrad B. Duberstein. Thirty years later, on February 29, 2012, Judge Lord was sworn in as a United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Eastern District of New York, with chambers at the Conrad B. Duberstein United States Bankruptcy Courthouse, returning full circle to where her career began.

    Judge Lord graduated with a degree in political science from SUNY Stony Brook, and then enrolled in Brooklyn Law School, anticipating a career in politics. But her ambitions took an unexpected turn: After her first year of law school, she was selected to be a judicial intern for then Bankruptcy Judge Joseph Costa. “I’d never taken a debtor-creditor class, and I knew nothing about bankruptcy law,” she recalled. At that time, bankruptcy judges were not entitled to law clerks, and as Judge Costa’s sole legal assistant, Lord was given tremendous responsibility and unparalleled experience. “It was fabulous training. If not for that clerkship, I would not be sitting here today,” she said.

    Lord had planned on clerking for Judge Costa after law school, but he suddenly passed away just two weeks before she sat for the bar exam. She was hired by his interim replacement Judge Saul Seidman and then by Judge Duberstein, serving as his first law clerk. In total, Lord spent nearly five years clerking in the Eastern District, and, in her words, “falling in love with bankruptcy law.”

    “Bankruptcy appealed to me because it’s interdisciplinary. You have to deal with many areas of the law simultaneously—real estate, contracts, corporate governance, debtor-creditor, matrimonial, the UCC,” she explained. “It’s like being an internist. You have to understand how all the parts of the ‘debtor’ body work so that you can take something that is ailing and fix it.”

    Lord was recruited by Botein Hays & Sklar in 1983 to assist attorney Sheldon Lowe in his efforts to start a bankruptcy department. Four years later, she moved on to Herzfeld & Rubin, a general practice law firm, where under the supervision and guidance of senior partner and long-time mentor, Herbert Rubin, she was given responsibility for the firm’s bankruptcy work, becoming a partner herself in 1996. “Herb Rubin is a lawyer’s lawyer, and I could not have had a better role model or a better place to hone my skills as an attorney.”

    Lord joined the Office of the New York State Attorney General as an Assistant Attorney General under Eliot Spitzer in 1999. In her 12 years at the AG’s office, Lord first served in a dual role as Section Chief of the General Recoveries Unit of the Civil Recoveries Bureau, a unit dedicated to recovering debt owed to the State, and as the bankruptcy attorney responsible for protecting the State’s interests as creditor, regulator, watchdog and contract vendee in bankruptcy and insolvency matters. She then launched and led a separate Bankruptcy Unit in the Office’s Albany Litigation Bureau, notably representing the State’s interests in many high profile cases including the New York Racing Association bankruptcy. During her tenure at the AG’s office, Lord recovered tens of millions of dollars in revenue for the State. “I loved the work at the AG’s office, and there is no other job I would have left for but this one,” she said.

    Lord says that becoming a bankruptcy judge in a time of economic strife has given her an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of many individuals who are struggling with the threat of foreclosure. She is participating in the Court’s loss-mitigation program that provides a court-supervised structure for bankruptcy debtors and their secured creditors to meet and discuss ways in which foreclosure might be averted through loan modification. “Both sides have the same interest,” she said. “The lender doesn’t really want the house, and the homeowner doesn’t want to give up the home. It can be a win-win situation for them to work out a deal.”

    It is a program that she knows would please her former judge, Conrad B. Duberstein. “Connie was an amazing judge,” she said. “Regardless of how he ruled, those appearing before him felt that they were heard and got a fair shake. Similarly, my hope each day when I put on my robe and take the bench, is that all parties feel that, win or lose, they had their day in court.”

  •  Sharon Schneier
    Sharon L. Schneier ’84, a commercial litigation partner at Davis Wright Tremaine, was named chair of the firm’s executive committee this spring. She is not only the first woman to be named to this position in the firm’s history, but also the first partner from a satellite office to become the chair of this national firm, which boasts 500 lawyers and nine offices.

    “It is a privilege to practice with Sharon,” said Victor Kovner, a partner at the firm who has known Schneier for two decades. “She is careful, thorough, insightful, and invariably of good spirits even in adversity, which is a quality that litigators should (but don’t always) have. I’ve watched her grow into a resourceful, talented, forceful advocate. Her appointment is quite a comment on the respect held for her by those who lead this firm.”

    Schneier began her career as a law clerk to Judge Alan N. Bloch of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, a position she sought out based on the advice of her civil procedure and federal courts professor, Maryellen Fullerton. “I had three heroes who had a profound influence on me while I was in law school,” recalled Schneier. “The first was U.S. District Court Judge Glasser [a former dean of BLS], for whom I interned when I was in law school and who has remained a wonderful role model throughout my career. The second was Maryellen Fullerton, who encouraged me to clerk. The third was Joel Gora, whom I had for constitutional law. They were all such fine people who cared passionately about what they do and about their students.”

    After her clerkship, Schneier joined Willkie Farr & Gallagher, where her practice focused on white collar crime, as a litigation associate. “I had a great experience at Willkie,” she said. “They made me into a much better writer, thinker, and lawyer.” In 1990, after four years at Willkie, she was ready for a change, and joined Lankenau Kovner, a firm known for its First Amendment work. She became a partner in 1995, and the firm merged with Davis Wright Tremaine in 1998.

    At Davis Wright, Schneier developed a reputation as a talented litigator, representing a spectrum of media clients including the Village Voice, Wenner Media, and Yellow Book in First Amendment, privacy, and false advertising cases. She also built a roster of clients in matters of commercial litigation, representing companies in financial services. She was lead counsel on several high-profile cases, including representing Cantor Fitzgerald in the first World Trade Center bombing litigation and helping families of the victims post-9/11. She also worked on Chaiken v. Village Voice, a noteworthy defamation lawsuit brought by Israeli settlers living in Hebron against the Village Voice. The case was won on a motion for summary judgment.

    While her professional career was thriving, so was her personal life. Schneier married and had three children: a daughter and then twin boys. She continued to work at the firm until her boys were three years old and then sought a change to spend more time with her young children. ”It wasn’t that complicated. With three children under five, I had to spend more time at home,” she said. Schneier thought that she had no alternative but to leave the firm and scheduled a lunch with Kovner, planning to give her notice—but it didn’t go quite as planned. “I told Victor that I needed to leave the firm,” she recalled. “He said, ‘Take a leave of absence, but don’t leave the firm. Consider teaching while you’re on leave. When your kids go to school full-time, you can come back.’”

    Schneier took Kovner’s advice and began teaching a civil procedure drafting course as an adjunct at Fordham Law School, which she loved. After nearly two years of teaching, the firm asked her not only to return, but to run the New York office as the Partner-in-Charge of the office. Seven years later, she was asked to run for the executive committee and was elected in a firm-wide vote in April 2011. One year after that, she was appointed as the committee’s chair.

    “As chair, I am in a position where I have the opportunity to drive the growth and direction of the firm,” she said. “I consider myself lucky that people in this firm have believed in me and made me feel really valued. One of the reasons I went into management is because I care tremendously about the firm and the practice of law and want to ensure that others can have the same professional successes and satisfaction that I do. This is my way of giving back.”

  •  MarkBosswick86
    Every morning for nearly 30 years, Mark Bosswick ’86 has made his way to the accounting and advisory firm of Berdon LLP. When he started out in 1982, a CPA fresh from Long Island University, he was an audit associate. But Bosswick set his sights on the big picture: “I knew one day I wanted to be a significant influence in running the place,” he said. To do so, he needed more than his CPA, the degree which his uncompromising mother insisted he get before becoming a lawyer. He worked at Berdon during the day, moving into the firm’s tax planning department, and enrolled in Brooklyn Law School at night.

    When he graduated first in his evening class, an offer came to join a big law firm’s mergers and acquisitions department and he accepted. But then Berdon’s managing partner, Stanley Freundlich ’68, invited him to lunch. Bosswick had of course known of Freundlich, who had joined Berdon in 1962 and built it into a diversified and highly respected regional powerhouse, but he’d never spent time with him in person.

    “I remember his assistant called me up and said, ‘Stanley Freundlich wants to know if you are available for lunch. Meet him at Peacock Alley.’ That was the place at the time. So obviously I went. He said, ‘I heard you’re leaving us. That’s a mistake.’ He went on to explain the difference between the business model of an accounting firm versus that of a law firm. Our firm has recurring annuity work. We prepare financial statements and tax returns and are a significant force in transactional business, but accounting and tax work is the bread and butter that recurs every year. In a law firm you do primarily transactional work and you can’t bank on that. He convinced me to stay— and in hindsight, he was correct.”

    Bosswick stayed with Berdon and received an LL.M. in taxation from NYU Law School. In January 2012, after 30 years, Bosswick was named co-managing partner of the firm, which is ranked among the top 30 accounting firms in the nation with nearly 400 employees and $95 million in revenue.

    Bosswick is involved with all of the financial aspects of his clients’ sophisticated transactions, including planning and structuring joint venture arrangements, advising on and negotiating the acquisition and sale of assets and businesses, debt restructuring and complex tax transactions. In addition, he specializes in estate planning and trust and estate administration. He advises family businesses and high net worth individuals on everything from billion dollar business deals to complex personal wealth matters, and he serves on investment committees and as a fiduciary. This requires an entrepreneurial approach that recognizes the complex interplay between every factor in clients’ business and personal lives. Along the way, he engages in a lot of hand-holding and listening, often acting as the ultimate mediator, massaging delicate matters involving multiple family members and their discrete financial issues. Or, as he more colorfully describes it: “I have a law degree and a master of law in tax, but mostly I use my psychology degree—the one I don’t have—to help guide and counsel families. I’m a business person with a subspecialty in psychology and multigenerational dynamics.”

    Bosswick credits his success in part to the support of three of Berdon’s partners. “I spent my entire professional life under three internal mentors: Stanley Freundlich, Howard Misthal, and Leonard Blank. Each one had his own style, and I tried to become a blend of all three. Stanley was the tough, polished negotiator. Howard, with his photographic memory, was the deductive reasoner. And Leonard was the brilliant, intuitive, nutty Harvard professor. Clients could not understand him because he was so brilliant. I would translate what he recommended to them into regular English and I seemed like the genius.”

    Bosswick has been instrumental in growing the firm, bringing in high-profile real estate families. He’s also expanded into the sports, entertainment, and hospitality industries, working with industry legends. He has developed growing a personal wealth management practice to help people deal with these tumultuous economic times.

    As co-managing partner, Bosswick is on a mission to both continue Berdon’s growth and also empower the younger staff by teaching them important business skills they did not learn in school. “Recent graduates may have the technical expertise, but they lack real-world skills. They were never taught how to make clients comfortable in discussing intimate details of their lives and politely but firmly leading them in another direction when it is appropriate. I want to build on our reputation as a first-class, elite accounting firm, and I believe we have what it takes to bring Berdon to an even higher level.”

  • Mark DeAngelis '96 
    Mark DeAngelis ’96, a seasoned corporate lawyer with an LL.M. in tax, a Masters in Public Administration, and a decade of private investment experience, was standing in knee-high rubber boots in a landfill in Latin America. He was not a part of “The Amazing Race” or on some eco-safari. It was just another day at the office.

    DeAngelis’ journey from law office to landfill began at Rogers & Wells (R&W), where he discovered a passion for private equity. “Working with small and growing clients in private equity was rewarding because I knew how much these folks had invested, not only financially, but of their time and their reputations,” he said.

    After four years at R&W, DeAngelis began to work exclusively in the private equity arena, first at O’Sullivan Graev & Karabell, a small shop known for its pioneering work in private equity, and then at Hogan & Hartson (now Hogan Lovells), where he helped build the firm’s private equity presence in New York. There, one small environmental finance deal changed the course of his career. A client had lined up a group of investors to buy and sell environmental credits, and he was brought in to make it happen. “I’m a deal guy, not an environment guy, so I approached it as a dealmaker,” said DeAngelis. “It was very interesting to me, but it was a small deal. I really didn’t think much of it.”

    The deal was a huge success and became the catalyst for the formation of RNK Capital, a private investment firm devoted to the global environmental markets, including those markets created under the Kyoto Protocol. Under Kyoto and other cap-and-trade programs, companies can either comply with the programs’ emissions limitations or buy emissions credits to offset the amount by which they exceed such limits. The offset credits are generated by companies developing and operating environmental projects that result in the reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases and other environmentally harmful emissions, such as the reduction of methane emissions from decomposing trash in a landfill.

    In 2006, DeAngelis left Hogan to join RNK full-time. “At the outset, there were so many novel issues with this work,” DeAngelis said. “There wasn’t a lot of precedent. It’s not like you could reach up to your shelf and pull off a form of the Kyoto Protocol Investment Deal Document.” DeAngelis and his colleagues looked for deals the firm could do in emerging economies, financing environmental projects in Latin American, Eastern Europe, and Asia to generate credits they would then sell to companies with Kyoto compliance obligations.

    As a Managing Director, he spent his days leading strategic transactions in the international carbon market, traveling the world speculating deals, negotiating with government agencies, and overseeing investments. Which brings us back to that landfill. “I would spend days literally walking around landfills in rubber boots to figure out why our investments were over- or underperforming our estimates and how to efficiently manage these projects for our investors. I quickly realized that to successfully do the deals we wanted to do we had to fully understand the multidisciplinary nature of these deals and be a constant presence on the ground with our partners.”

    By 2010, the fund was in a good place, but Kyoto was set to expire by the end of 2012. Its extension and other regulatory uncertainty in the U.S. and elsewhere existed. As a result, DeAngelis left RNK to return to Cornell (where he had received his Bachelor’s and his M.P.A) as a Professional-in-Residence in Environmental Finance and Management. There, he developed the concept, structure, and curriculum for the Environmental Finance and Impact Investing Fellows Program, a collaboration between Cornell’s graduate schools of Public Affairs and Business.

    While serving as Professional-in-Residence at Cornell, he also developed a model for a new global environmental investment firm, Macro Climate Solutions, which he founded in 2011. “I wanted to seek out investment and advisory opportunities that would capitalize on this macro trend toward a low-carbon global economy and that could benefit from regulatory incentives but not be wholly reliant on them,” said DeAngelis. “The interest level in this space is incredibly high. Project finance has been very strong, Standard & Poor’s and others are developing ratings for securities, bonds and securitizations are now possible, and banks are covering the space from a research perspective. These are all encouraging trends that are translating into heightened institutional investor interest.” If all goes well, he hopes to be knee-deep in a landfill again soon.

BLS LawNotes - Spring 2014

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