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Living the Dream: Montclair State University Attorney Alumni Share Advice on How to Prepare for a Law Career

Posted in: CHSS News, Homepage News and Events, Pre-Law News

Photo taken during the Montclair State University Pre-Law Alumni lecture and panel

The Pre-Law Society recently hosted Montclair State University alums Sal M. Alderton ‘95, Kyle Peters ‘12, and David (Dave) Wertheimer ‘79, who are each practicing attorneys, for a panel discussion to speak with members about their journey to legal practice and give advice on how to be successful in the profession.

Emayzyah Reeves, a current senior and President of the Pre-Law Society, said she felt inspired by what she learned about each of the different pathways to becoming the type of attorneys she and other Pre-Law Society members aspire to be.

Each of the panelists shared how their college experience coupled with real world work experience allowed them to successfully pursue law school and find a career that was a good fit based on their interests and skills. For example, Dave Wertheimer ’79 the Vice President of Ferrari North America, upon graduating with a degree in Political Science, he worked full-time with Volvo and attended law school part-time at Seton Hall University Law School for five-years and held other positions before he landed his role at Ferrari. However, according to Dave, it was his clerkship with a federal judge in law school that prepared him most for success as an attorney.

Throughout the meeting, students were completely engrossed in the discussion as each panelist shared what their daily work life looks like and the challenges that come with being a lawyer. Kyle Peters ’12, who graduated from UCLA Law School and now serves as a criminal defense attorney for the Legal Aid Society of NYC, worked with labor unions and tried out immigration law before finding that his passion was criminal defense work. Kyle described the various challenges with representing indigent clients who may not have a home address or access to email or telephone. For several students who attended, Kyle is living their dream and doing exactly what they want to do: be a criminal defense attorney.

Sal M. Alderton ’95, shared how his initial goal of being the go-to lawyer in the community shifted when he was offered other opportunities to assist state legislators as counsel on various legal issues and now lobbyists as well. Sal, who graduated from Seton Hall University Law School and now serves as Of Counsel to Porzio, Bromberg & Newman and Vice President and General Counsel of Porzio Governmental Affairs, agreed with the other panelists that interpersonal skills and networking were essential to his success in the legal field. In addition, Sal’s experience as President of the Montclair State University Student Government Association and academic experience as a double major in Political Science and Philosophy prepared him to provide counsel to private and governmental organizations.

After an engaging discussion Q&A session, pre-law students who participated in the meeting each took away valuable advice unique to where they are on their education and career path. “All three panelists work in very different fields and have very different client bases, but they were all satisfied with what they do. Kyle Peters especially emphasized the importance of finding a field you love. This is definitely something I will take to heart as I go through the process of preparing myself for a legal career.” said Emma Geoghegan a current junior and Policy Studies major. Victoria Reamer, a sophomore and Secretary of the Pre-Law Society, said the Montclair State University alumni panel discussion helped her understand how to navigate her way into a legal career, “starting from course selection to internships, because it made me realize how truly passionate I am about this career field.”

The Pre-Law Society meeting was an excellent forum for current students to hear feedback from Montclair State’s alumni about what it it’s like to be an attorney and whether or not a law career is right for them. “The advice shared with students today will serve them throughout their time at the University and beyond,” said Isabelle Ramos, Montclair State’s Pre-Law Program Director. The meeting was not only informative, but it also allowed students to begin networking with attorneys and reflect on the attorney they would like to become. This panel discussion is just one example of how the Montclair State University’s alumni, Political Science faculty, and the Alumni Engagement Office help the University’s pre-law students connect with law practitioners and, ultimately, impact the future of justice. Stay tuned for more events featuring Montclair State University alumni attorneys this spring and summer 2023!