Alumni Spotlight: Gregory Coleman, Jr. '09
Gregory Coleman was recently promoted to Deputy Director of Training for the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Practice where he is responsible for getting new attorneys ready to represent indigent New Yorkers in all five boroughs.
How did you land at your current job? What was the path to your job like?
A mentor of mine suggested, after reviewing my resume, that I apply to join the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Practice.
The path was long and winding. After graduating from Touro Law, I served as a litigation associate for Kaye Scholer, LLP. After a year, and an economic downturn, I was blessed with the opportunity to join the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Practice in Richmond County (Staten Island). After serving in both Richmond and Queens counties, I served as a Court Attorney for the Honorable Judge Joanne D. Quinones in Kings County Criminal Court and as an Adjunct Professor of Law for Touro Law teaching Selected Topics in New York Criminal Procedure.
Shortly after returning to the Legal Aid Society, I joined the Training Unit that focuses on training new and experienced attorneys on new and developing areas of criminal law. When future Touro graduates join The Legal Aid Society, I will be one of the first faces they see, and it will be my job to get them ready to represent indigent New Yorkers in the five (5) boroughs.
Do you like practicing law?
Yes! In my new role, I am no longer directly representing clients. However, for ten (10) years, I had the privilege of standing beside some of New York’s most vulnerable people and advocating on their behalf.
Looking back, what do you think about your Touro Law experience?
My law school experience was rewarding and challenging. Maintaining good grades, participating in the Journal of Race, Gender, and Ethnicity while networking for future employment was difficult at times. Learning to both balance those pressures and excel was vital.
Are there any standout law school moments that come to mind??
Every interaction with the Career Services team. Having a dedicated group of people who were plugged into the recruitment side of both local and national organizations made focusing on learning much easier.
Being appointed as Student Co-Director of LEAP (The Legal Education Access Program) was humbling and rising to the occasion for my fellow LEAP students prepared me for my current position as Deputy Director of Training for the Legal Aid Society.
Were there people that significantly influenced you along the way?
Too many to count: Professor Doug Scherer, Professor Beverly McQueary Smith, and Professor Fabio Arcila.
Did you maintain any relationships with faculty or classmates that you find influential, even today?
I maintained relationships with several people after graduating from Touro. My most influential classmate is Tanya Rickoff who I met through Professor McQueary Smith. Tanya and I are now married with a four (4) year old son, Miles. Tanya is also a Deputy Bureau Chief (Intake) for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office.
What advice would you give to prospective and/or current law students?
The hard work, late nights, missed parties, and sore eyes will all be worth it in the end. Our criminal justice system needs dedicated, thoughtful, and ethical attorneys to transform it into something that is fair and concerned with justice and not punishment. With the knowledge you are gaining now, do the right thing.