When she first set foot on South Mountain, Patricia Rogowski ’84 was confident she would become an engineer. “My father is a mechanical engineer, and I was always a strong student in math and science,” she says.
But as she dove into materials and processes and interned side by side with experienced engineers at Procter & Gamble, Rogowski had some doubts.
“I feared I would not have enough diversity in my work if I stayed on an engineering track,” she says.
Today, Rogowski is a top intellectual property attorney in Delaware, working for Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz in Wilmington.
Laura M. D’Orsi ’87 majored in government at Lehigh with the goal of helping people. Today, she is doing just that as a matrimonial lawyer at the law offices of John Patti in Red Bank, n.J., assisting clients through divorce processes and custody matters.
The paths that Rogowski and D’Orsi followed to the legal profession are not all that unusual. For a university without a formal pre-law program, much less a law school, Lehigh produces an uncanny number of professionals who bear “esquire” behind their names. And these lawyers—from federal prosecutors and judges to corporate attorneys—all have something important in common: They take nuggets of their experiences on South Mountain to the courtroom every day.
“Lehigh taught me that while there will always be someone who can outthink you, there doesn’t ever have to be anybody who will outwork you,” says Jim Tanenbaum ’70, ’71, a partner with Morrison & Foerster in new York City who specializes in corporate and securities law and is an emeritus member of the Lehigh board of trustees.
A new organization, the Lehigh Lawyers Association (LLA), is bringing together—socially and professionally—attorneys across the country and spanning nearly four decades. The brainchild of Oldrich Foucek ’72 and James Kozuch ’76G, the LLA has grown quickly, helping hundreds of Lehigh lawyers rub elbows, both virtually and in person.
“There are a lot of lawyers out there who spent four years on South Mountain, and we decided to try to get them to connect with one another. With technology what it is, the time seemed to be right,” says Foucek, shareholder with Tallman Hudders & Sorentino, the Pennsylvania office of Norris McLaughlin & Marcus of Allentown, and a former member of Lehigh’s board of trustees.
Be it a riveting mob case, a legal class at Lehigh, or the love of a good argument, Lehigh lawyers all had different reasons for pursuing the law.
Jeff Goldberg ’92 realized his legal calling while at Lehigh, but upon graduation opted to work at one of the Big Six accounting firms, Arthur Andersen (an accountant’s dream job right out of school). “But as an auditor, I found I was more interested in read- ing the legal letters than counting inventory,” he says.
So he went on to graduate from nYU School of Law and became a federal prosecutor, where he worked on high-profile mob cases and acted as lead prosecutor on the nBA betting scandal case involving referee Tim Donaghy. He most recently moved to Washington, D.C.’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Unit, where he investigates and prosecutes corporate bribery of foreign officials.
For a university without a formal pre-law program, much less a law school, Lehigh produces an uncanny number of professionals who bear “esquire” behind their names.
Frank Roth ’80, Lehigh University general counsel, decided to become an attorney in high school, after he had the opportunity to accompany his father on jury duty in Philadelphia. “After watching trials for a week, especially a high-profile organized crime prosecution, I was hooked,” he says.
Roth chose to spend his undergraduate years at Lehigh because of the strong reputation and because the university was considering establishing a law school at the time. Today, he remains fiercely loyal as he represents and defends Lehigh “on both a personal and a professional level.”
It was a different kind of loyalty that drove Maury Poscover ’66 to law school: romantic love. Poscover went to Washington University in St. Louis School of Law to be with a girl, now his wife. “Her pitch was that it would look good on my résumé when I pursued my original goal of teaching political theory and constitutional law,” he says. “She picked well for me; I love the practice of law.” Poscover is now a partner with Husch Blackwell in St. Louis, which represents some of the largest financial institutions in the United States, including General Electric Capital.
Beyond calculus and chemistry, many future lawyers took lessons from Lehigh they use in their practices each day.
Judge Ed Cahn ’55, who served as United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Chief Judge from 1993 to 1998) and presently serves as Counsel at the law firm of Blank Rome LLP, recounts a stern talking-to that still rings in his head. As part of his abnormal psychology class at Lehigh, Cahn had to visit a state hospital and distinguish between a patient with Hunting- ton’s disease and one with encephalitis.
“Both patients seemed to have the same symptoms, so—because I wanted to get a good grade in the class—I simply asked the psychiatrist in charge how to tell the difference,” Cahn recalls. “Well, he came down on me like a ton of bricks and said, ‘If you were paying attention, you would have noticed that the Huntington’s patient exhibited locomotor ataxia as she was walking up the steps into the room. From now on, you’d better pay close attention from the moment you are involved in a situation.’
“The psychiatrist was so ugly to me that the professor of the class called me at my fraternity house that night to apologize,” Cahn says. “But although it was unpleasant at the time, it was an extremely valuable lesson I take with me every day—as soon as someone walks in the courtroom, I really watch, because I know I might learn something that will help me in my decision.”
Perry Zirkel, professor of education and law, has taught many future lawyers during his more than 20 years at Lehigh. He says seeing his Intro to Law students go on to choose law school and achieve such enormous success is “very psychologically rewarding; it’s what teaching is all about.”
In Zirkel’s class and others, many of these successful attorneys can boil the most useful thing they gained at Lehigh down to two words: hard work.
“I have kiddingly said that Lehigh is where the Protestant work ethic was invented,” Poscover says. “For four challenging years, I took the hardest courses I could with the best teachers. There was nothing typical about the intellectual environment at Lehigh; it caused me to think and think a bit more.”
One of Goldberg’s “best teachers” was Kenneth Sinclair, an accounting professor who instilled in him a healthy fear of failure. “Sinclair was a tough professor—energetic and confrontational—and he demanded students be prepared for class. If you cut corners in Professor Sinclair’s cost accounting class, he could sense it,” Goldberg says. “Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I think he has made me a better lawyer and advocate in court. He and I are still in touch today.”
The LLA, under the leadership of president Michael Glasheen ’67, a partner with McCarter & English in Philadelphia, who has a commercial/business litigation practice with a concentration in defense of life and disability insurers, fosters connections between existing Lehigh lawyer alums. It also reaches out to current Lehigh students interested in law through mentoring and by working with Career Services to generate externships.
The LLA has compiled a members directory that helps lawyers locate each other for business referrals. “As well, the directory can enhance so- cial contacts, as we know some people have already connected with each other,” Glasheen says.
Lynn Levy ’82 is a case in point. “The attorney who hired me to The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company is a Lehigh grad,” she says. As the organization takes hold, these networking stories are likely to multiply and spread way beyond the mid-Atlantic.
“It is a wonderful idea to connect Lehigh alumni in the legal profession,” Levy says.
Whether they arrived on Lehigh’s campus planning to go into law, or as engineering, government, or accounting majors, the graduates who went on to enter the legal profession can’t imagine life any other way.
D’Orsi is indeed fulfilling her goal of helping people, both as a divorce lawyer and through her previous work as president of the Unity Group, an advocacy organization for women, where she helped open and operate a battered women’s shelter in Essex County, n.J. “I enjoy my practice because I have hands-on contact with my clients and I am able to guide them through a traumatic time in their lives,” she says.
And Rogowski may not invent things herself as a mechanical engineer, but she protects inventions through patents, trade secrets, and copyrights.
“Each day, I delve into new and different technologies,” she says. “That is the challenge and fun of what I do.”
For more information on the Lehigh Lawyers Association, please visit their Web site at mylehigh.lehigh.edu/lla.