Alumni Profiles

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.

Read more about alumni in the news.

  • Jeffrey B. Gewirtz

    As senior vice president and general counsel for the New Jersey Nets, Jeffrey B. Gewirtz oversees all legal affairs for the franchise. He is also helping to bring the Nets to Brooklyn in his role as senior vice president and general counsel for Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, a Nets affiliate that handles all of the commercial and sports marketing aspects of the team’s planned relocation to the Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn.

    Prior to joining the Nets, Gewirtz served as general counsel and chief legal and government affairs officer to the United States Olympic Committee, where he oversaw all USOC legal matters, including litigation and arbitration; intellectual property issues; athlete and sport national governing body matters under the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act; anti-doping; real estate; and sponsorship, media, and licensing transactions. He has also held legal positions at Coca-Cola Company, IOC Marketing and Television Services, and the LPGA Tour. Gewirtz has taught sports law as an adjunct professor at Brooklyn Law School and New York Law School.

  • Gerald B. Lefcourt

    High-profile trial lawyer Gerald B. Lefcourt heads his own firm in New York, Gerald B. Lefcourt, P.C., which focuses on criminal defense and complex civil litigation. He has defended clients as diverse as Abbie Hoffman; the Black Panthers; Harry Helmsley; Michael Milken’s co-defendant in one of the nation’s largest securities cases; and Murder, Inc. Records’ founder, Irv Gotti. He also represented one of the defendants in the federal KPMG tax fraud prosecution.

    Lefcourt is a past president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and of the New York Criminal Bar Association and is also a founder of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He is a frequent lecturer, panelist and author of publications on a wide variety of legal subjects including asset forfeiture, legal ethics, wire-tapping, plea bargaining, subpoenaing of lawyers, and representation of grand jury witnesses.

  • Ann L. MacDougall

    Ann L. MacDougall is chief administrative officer and general counsel of Acumen Fund, a non-profit global venture fund that uses entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of global poverty. Acumen Fund, which was incorporated in April 2001 with seed capital from the Rockefeller Foundation, Cisco Systems Foundation and three individual philanthropists, focuses on using philanthropic capital to make investments that will provide affordable, critical goods and services, such as water, housing and energy.

    Prior to joining Acumen Fund, MacDougall worked for 17 years at PricewaterhouseCoopers in various senior roles. Most recently, she held the role of global deputy general counsel in Paris. Before joining PwC, she worked at US West and Sage Gray Todd & Sims, a Wall Street law firm in New York.

  • Vivian Maese

    Vivian Maese was named general counsel and corporate secretary of BIDS Trading, the alternative trading system established to increase competition and liquidity in the U.S. equity block trading market. In her new position, she provides strategic leadership and legal counsel for the firm and its board of directors.

    “My entire career has focused on working in the heart of Wall Street at the intersection of technology, intellectual property and financial regulation, and I am very excited to be playing a central role in the expansion of BIDS Trading as a block trading platform,” she said. “BIDS Trading is developing very innovative trading technologies, and I am fortunate to have the opportunity to help the company to grow.”

    Prior to joining BIDS, Maese served as senior vice president and associate general counsel at NYSE Euronext, where she led the legal team that was responsible for modernizing the NYSE market structure. She was frequently in Washington, D.C. as an advocate for regulatory modernization as a result of the impact of technology and globalization on the U.S. securities markets. In addition, Maese supported NYSE Euronext’s U.S. trading business lines and handled technology legal issues, strategic technology acquisitions, and intellectual property protections.

    Maese was among the first technology and intellectual property lawyers on Wall Street when she joined Salomon Brothers in 1984. An industry-leading attorney, she served as managing director at Citi until 2007. While at Citi, she also served as general counsel for its Global Transaction Services Division, a $4 billion business line that provides cash, trade, securities services and fund administration services for corporate clients in over 100 countries.

    Of her studies at Brooklyn Law School, Maese said Professors Joseph Crea, Richard Farrell, and Henry Holzer and their wise teachings have stood the test of time. “Brooklyn Law School not only taught me about the law, but how to think.” She graduated from Hunter College with honors, with a major in English literature and a minor in economics. She is a member of the ACCA Board of Directors for Greater New York and is the attorney coach for the Mock Trial Team at Newark Academy.

  • Anthony Paonita

    In August 2008, Anthony Paonita was named editor in chief of Corporate Counsel magazine, the leading U.S. business magazine for chief legal officers at companies, government agencies and nonprofits across the country. Corporate Counsel is run by Incisive Media, which also owns the former American Lawyer Media’s other publications. Paonita was previously the executive editor of the magazine.

    “It’s an interesting time to be editing a business magazine,” Paonita said. “Wall Street’s current woes will, unfortunately, be good source material for years to come.” Paonita joined The National Law Journal in 1986 as an assistant editor, managing its freelance network. At the Journal, he was part of an editorial team that produced award-winning special reports, including an in-depth study of death penalty appeals and a pioneering examination of Superfund sites and minority neighborhoods. He left the Journal in 1997 to work on computer publishing systems and freelance writing projects for publications such as Business Week and More magazine. Paonita then joined Corporate Counsel in 2001 as senior editor and was promoted to executive editor of the magazine in 2002.

    He received his bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College. During his time at Brooklyn Law School, he found that he preferred journalism over law. “It wasn’t the most direct way to my eventual profession,” he said, “but I caught the bug writing a column for The Justinian, the Law School’s former newspaper.” He said his legal background now helps him explain complicated bits of constitutional law in everyday language and spot mistakes in legal analysis in stories he edits. “Plus, it helps when I’m interviewing lawyers as sources for them to know I’m one of them,” he added. Outside of his job, Paonita tries to spend as much time as he can in Italy, where he lives part of the year.

  • Andrew Perel

    Andrew Perel joined the New York office of Steptoe & Johnson LLP as a partner in the firm’s environmental practice group of its Regulatory & Industry Affairs Department. He is a member of the New York office’s management committee and a member of the firm’s executive committee.

    Perel also represents financial institutions in structured finance transactions (asset backed securitization and commercial mortgage-backed securitization transactions), and real estate sales, acquisitions and development matters. “This firm provides an outstanding platform from which to continue to grow my practice,” he said. “I am looking forward to enhancing and expanding Steptoe’s presence in New York.”

    A recognized leader in environmental law, Perel primarily counsels clients on environmental compliance and due diligence and litigates complex environmental matters including environmental insurance disputes. Part of his job is to ensure that in all types of structured finance deals, his clients can deal effectively with the environmental conditions of the underlying assets. “Our group’s practice is not limited to litigation, transactional, compliance, or regulatory work,” he explained. “We do all of them. On any given day, if a client has a need, we can handle it, which keeps the practice interesting and challenging.”

    Prior to joining Steptoe, Perel chaired the environmental practice group at Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft LLP. He joined Cadwalader in 2001 from the former Roseman & Colin, where he was also a partner and the co-chair of its real estate department. He began his legal career as an associate with Adams Duque & Hazeltine and Riker, Danzig, Sherer, Hyland & Perretti.

    He graduated from Brandeis University, where he was a pre-med student with plans to become a doctor. But he also minored in legal studies and found he was more comfortable in a law office rather than the operating room. As a summer associate, he was given an environmental matter to work on, and “it all clicked,” he said. “I understood the organic chemistry underlying the case. I’d found what I was supposed to do.”

    At Brooklyn Law School, Perel participated in the Moot Court Honor Society and was a member of Phi Delta Phi. In law school, he was inspired by Professor Richard Allen, whose understanding of the practice of law “helped catapult me to the next level of my career,” he said.

  • Jeffrey S. Sherman

    Jeffrey S. Sherman is senior vice president and general counsel of Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD). Headquartered in the U.S., with offices in nearly 50 countries worldwide, BD is a medical technology company that serves health care institutions, life science researchers, clinical laboratories, industry, and the general public. BD manufactures and sells a broad range of medical supplies, devices, laboratory equipment, and diagnostic products.

    Sherman advises the corporation’s board of directors, CEO and other senior executives and is also the primary legal advisor to the company’s constituents, an officer of the corporation, a member of the senior executive team, and an administrator of the corporation’s in-house legal department. Prior to joining BD, Sherman served as vice president and associate general counsel for Wyeth, and as a partner with Shereff, Friedman, Hoffman & Goodman, which was ultimately merged into Bingham McCutchen LLP.

  • Antonio Yanez Jr.

    Antonio Yanez Jr. is a partner in the litigation department of Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP. He represents issuers, officers, directors, underwriters, and accounting firms in securities class actions, SEC proceedings, and other matters. He also focuses on internal and independent investigations into financial and accounting matters. His major clients in securities class actions have included Molson Coors Brewing Co. in a case arising out of a merger; an accounting firm in a case involving alleged accounting improprieties at Oxford Health Plans; and underwriters in negotiations to settle an action arising out of accounting improprieties at WorldCom.

    Yanez, who is fluent in Spanish, frequently speaks to international audiences. For example, he recently spoke in Panama City to the National Congress of Accountants and to the College of Certified Public Accountants about financial fraud. He has also authored and edited publications concerning liability under the Federal Securities Acts of 1933 and 1934 as well as financial reporting.

  • Jeremy S. Yellin

    Jeremy S. Yellin, a criminal defense lawyer in Havre, Montana, received a 2007 Lawyer of the Year Award from the Montana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers during its annual meeting in March 2008. Yellin was recognized for his successful defense of a death penalty homicide case to which he was appointed. He represented a Lakota Sioux tribe member who was charged with the death of a friend and fellow oil rig worker.

    Yellin’s criminal case load runs the range from defending DUIs in justice court to defending felony criminal charges in federal court. He has traveled throughout Montana defending cases. He also does appellate work in the Montana Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and practices family and personal injury law.

    After completing his first year of law school, Yellin drove cross-country to Alaska. It was during this trip that he fell in love with the west and developed a fascination with Montana. During law school, Yellin worked for a small personal injury firm in Brooklyn. It was there that he met his first mentor and learned not only the mindset of a lawyer, but also how to manage a small business successfully.

    He began his career in July of 1996 when he got his first job clerking for District Court Judge John Warner in Havre. Yellin then had the opportunity to work with the local public defender in North Central Montana, where he gained experience defending various criminal cases. “I didn’t find criminal law — it found me,” he said. “It is the most rewarding and gratifying work I could imagine doing.”

    “I am proud to have graduated from Brooklyn Law School,” Yellin said, adding that he has fond memories of his professors whose words have stayed with him. He remembers Professor Richard Farrell reminding his class that “bigger doesn’t mean smarter,” which he said “has helped during times when I have been outnumbered in terms of manpower and resources.” Professor Robert Pitler’s lessons on evidence, he said helped him immeasurably in the court room. “His teaching style enabled me to maintain the rules in my mind with great clarity and understanding.”

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