I did not follow a traditional path to becoming a lawyer. As I like to say, half jokingly, it took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up.
I am fortunate that I spent my formative years at St. Bonaventure, a fine institution that helped make me the man I am today. (I was there when my good, life-long friend Patrick Roth was.).
At St. Bonaventure, I participated in the many volunteer opportunities it offered to help out those less fortunate, but I also worked hard, with a considerable focus on my studies. This paid off when I graduated magna cum laude. More importantly, I left that school knowing I had made a difference.
Guided by my idealism, I enlisted in the Navy, where I proudly served as a journalist aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.
After my service, I returned home and had the opportunity to help out my family’s business. Then, I took advantage of an opportunity to teach at a private high school, Aquinas Institute in Rochester.
Throughout all these experiences, one thing has always guided me: the desire to help others.
Then, I had a pivotal, life-changing conversation with a friend. She was telling me that she was a graduate student. I was truly impressed. As someone with an insatiable curiosity who values learning, I remember telling her I had always thought graduate school would be a valuable experience. I expressed a particular admiration for law school. Without missing a beat, she said, “Well, why don’t you do it?” I was about to answer but suddenly realized I had no answer. I had never even looked into it.
I gave it a lot of thought and quickly came to realize that practicing law would fuel my desire to be constantly learning, but more importantly, it would allow me to continue to help people in very meaningful ways. Although I was older than the average student, I realized I would still have the opportunity to have a lengthy career as an attorney ahead of me, and I could practice law for as long as I had my wits about me.
I decided to go to the University of Buffalo Law School. There, I had the same focus on my studies, but I also participated in other activities. I volunteered on the Buffalo International Human Rights Law Review, and I participated in the William and Mary Foster Elder Law Clinic. I was awarded the Connelly Trial Technique Award, and I was on the Trial Team. I served on the board for the Jessup/Faskin Moot Court Board. I had internships with the New York State Unified Court System, Prisoner’s Legal Services, and at Liberty Mutual in its law department in Buffalo. Ultimately, I graduated cum laude.
I stayed in Buffalo, and the first five years of my legal career were practicing civil litigation, insurance defense. I learned a lot in that practice area, but there grew a feeling that something was missing. I did not feel like I was helping people as much as I wanted.
Throughout this time, Patrick and I stayed in touch. Recently, he asked me if I would like to return to Corning and work at his firm. I didn’t have to give it a lot of thought. My parents are in this area, and the Corning area has always felt like home.
In my practice at Roth Elder Law, I am handling Trusts and Estates, helping people out during a difficult time in their lives. My job consists of making sure things that need to be done are done, and ensuring the requirements of the law are met. A big part of this is ensuring families are taken care of and the wishes of beloved deceased are honored. This work is an opportunity to once again feel like I am making a difference. And, it is an opportunity to work with a good friend.
So, here I am, and this is where I am meant to be, doing the work I am meant to be doing. It’s good to be home.