In January, more than 250 alumni and their guests, faculty, students, and staff filled the grand ballroom at the famed Plaza Hotel in New York City for Brooklyn Law School’s Annual Alumni Association Luncheon.
“I hope you share the pride I feel as president and dean of Brooklyn Law School,” said Dean Nick Allard in his welcome remarks. “Our great law school is increasingly known for what it has always been—a leading center for learning how to use the power of law in the service of people and society at home and abroad. Your achievements as Brooklyn Law graduates give us a sterling reputation, and your engagement and encouragement and support propel us forward.”
After Allard’s remarks, Valerie Fitch ’88, president of the Alumni Association, introduced this year’s honorees. Martin A. Fischer ’64, former chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the New York State Insurance Fund, and the Honorable Nelson S. Román ’89, a U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York, were recognized as “Alumni of the Year.” Honored as “Rising Stars” were Winston M. Paes ’03, chief of the business and securities fraud section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, and Nithya B. Das ’06, senior vice president and general counsel of AppNexus Inc.
Martin A. Fischer ’64 had an eventful first year at Brooklyn Law School. Fischer’s congressman from Brooklyn, John J. Rooney, helped him leave his service in the Navy early so he could begin law school. To thank Rooney, Fischer traveled to Washington, D.C., and hours after arriving in the congressman’s office, he found himself at a party with top government officials.
“I was 25 years old, in a room with Lyndon Johnson, the vice president of the United States, and half the cabinet, and one of the senators asks me for my thoughts on the Peace Corps,” Fischer recalled. “It was a highlight of my life.”
The next day, Congressman Rooney introduced Fischer to Congressman Hugh L. Carey (who went on to become New York governor). Years later, Fischer was appointed by Governor Carey to serve as commissioner of the New York State Insurance Fund in 1977 and he served as its chairman until 1995. Fischer began his law career as an associate at Otterbourg, Steindler, Houston & Rosen. After two years, he joined Warner Communications as associate general counsel and held many positions, including executive vice president and director of the subsidiaries Kinney System and the Katz Parking System. In 1981, he became president and chief operating officer of these subsidiaries and served in this role until 1986. In 1987, he joined Warshaw Burstein Cohen Schlesinger & Kuh as counsel, where he remained until 2001.
Today, Fischer serves on the Board of Directors of the Berkshire Bank, one of the oldest and largest independent banks in Massachusetts. He is also a member of the Brooklyn Law School Board of Trustees, which he joined in 1995; he sits on the finance committee. Fischer and his wife, Susan, have been longtime supporters of the Law School. When the addition was being built in 1994, the dining mezzanine was named in honor of them and their son, Michael Fischer ’92. He and his wife also have endowed a scholarship, which is awarded annually to a student in need of financial assistance to continue his or her education.
In 2013, President Barack Obama appointed the Honorable Nelson S. Román ’89 as a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Judge Román’s career in public service began in the 1980s as a New York City police officer. He patrolled the South Bronx during the day and attended the Law School at night. After graduating, he joined the Kings County District
Attorney’s Office as an assistant district attorney working in the domestic violence bureau and the felony trial division. He later joined the New York County District Attorney’s Office as a special narcotics assistant district attorney, where he prosecuted major felony narcotics cases. In 1995, he became a law clerk to the Honorable Jose A. Padilla of the New York City Civil Court.
His judicial career began in 1998 when he was appointed to the Housing Court of the New York City Civil Court in Bronx County. Three years later, he was elected to the New York City Civil Court in Bronx County. Then in 2002, he was elected as a justice of the New York State Supreme Court in Bronx County, where he served for seven years. In 2009, Governor David Paterson appointed Judge Román as an associate justice of the Appellate Division, First Department. After four years on the Appellate Division, he was appointed as a United States District Court judge for the Southern District of New York.
Judge Román is on the New York State Task Force on Mandatory Retirement of Judges and on the Special Commission on the Future of New York State Courts. Previously, he was president of the Puerto Rican Bar Association and was a founding member of the Cervantes Society.
Judge Román has received numerous honors and awards including the Outstanding Service Award from the Puerto Rican Bar Association, and the President’s Award for Outstanding Judicial Service from the Bronx County Bar Association. He has twice been honored by the Latin American Law Students Association at the Law School. Over the years, numerous Brooklyn Law students have served as his interns and law clerks.
Nithya B. Das ’06 is the senior vice president and general counsel at AppNexus Inc., a venture-backed global technology company that powers Internet advertising. AppNexus provides the technology that determines which ads appear on a website’s sidebar. The company employs more than 1,000 people in 23 global offices, and places $2.5 billion in advertising each year.
Das oversees the global corporate, commercial, M&A, privacy, intellectual property, and regulatory legal affairs for AppNexus and serves as its corporate secretary and compliance officer. She was awarded the 2014 Women of Power and Influence honor by the National Organization for Women and was recognized as a 2011 Legal Rebel by the American Bar Association.
“A former colleague of mine recently described me as being confident and persistent, and as having a strong sense of business acumen,” Das said. “Those characteristics were formed and furthered at Brooklyn Law School, and for that I really thank the school.”
As a law student, Das was an editor of the Brooklyn Journal of International Law and a member of the Moot Court Honor Society. She was also an International Business Law Fellow and co-founded the South Asian Law Students Association. After receiving her J.D., she began her career at Goodwin Procter LLP as an associate in its technology company practice, where she represented public and private tech companies in a wide variety of corporate and transactional matters. While at Goodwin, she also helped create the Founder’s Workbench, a free, online legal resource for entrepreneurs.
Today, Das continues to be involved with Brooklyn Law School. She has participated in Business Boot Camp and regularly participates in career and academic panels.
“There is no better feeling, from my perspective, than to say in a courtroom that you represent the United States,” said Winston M. Paes ’03, chief of the business and securities fraud section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. “No matter how many times I say it, I still get goose bumps.”
Moving from Goa, India, to New York City when he was 18 years old, Paes had no knowledge of the American legal system. But he quickly figured it out and credited the Brooklyn Law School faculty for helping him become a prosecutor. Today, Paes leads investigations and prosecutions in a variety of criminal matters, specializing in fraud involving publicly traded companies and corporate executives and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the False Claims Act. Paes began his career as a litigation associate at Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, where he worked on a number of white-collar and regulatory matters. He joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 2008, and was appointed to the business and securities fraud section the following year. He became deputy chief of the section in June 2014, and eight months later, he was promoted to his current position. Paes has worked on some of the office’s most significant white-collar cases and has received numerous awards including the 2014 Department of Justice’s Award for Superior Performance by a Litigative Team and the 2013 Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency Award for Excellence in Investigation.
As a board member of the Brooklyn Law School Alumni Association and a longtime mentor to students, Paes maintains close ties with the Law School. “I am standing here today because of the hard work and dedication of many people who have helped me along the way,” he said, “and I am grateful to be able to give back in some small way now.”