Q & A:
- What was your favorite class, who was your favorite professor, or what is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
The interests, skills and knowledge I developed at Hofstra have been a part of all the diverse things I've done since then. I enjoyed my drama classes, employing that training years later as an actor. I helped organize the very first Mr. Hofstra bodybuilding contest; many years later, I'm legal counsel to the sport of professional bodybuilding. I learned about leadership as president of Manchester House (the source of some great party memories) and I'm now on track to become president of the Nassau County Bar Association in a few years.
- What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
I went from Hofstra Law into a job as an assistant district attorney. It was a great experience with wonderful colleagues and I came away with the skill and confidence to try a case in front of a jury. Sometimes you had to jump in and try a case with almost no preparation. You learn a certain fearlessness from that, maybe better described as conquering your fear. I called upon that same mastery when I started skydiving for charity a few years ago.
- What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
Before my legal career, I was a bodybuilder and personal trainer. I was always keenly interested in diet and exercise, and most of my friends were in the nutrition and fitness fields. Over time, mostly by organic process rather than by design, the two areas of my life began to overlap. Now, where muscle and fitness meet the law is my bailiwick. My vocation and avocation have become one.
- What advice would you give to Hofstra students?
Find what you're passionate about and do it. Don't necessarily follow the herd. It doesn't hurt to have a back-up plan, but be willing to take a chance. I practice in a legal "specialty" niche pretty much of my own creating, having been borne out of my personal interests. I love what I do.
- In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
You're asking a lawyer to use but one word? Be serious.
- What would you say has been your biggest struggle in dealing with tough criminal cases?
Having seen the criminal justice system from both sides of the courtroom, I know we can do better. The war on drugs is finally ending, but only after we've created a huge population of permanently disadvantaged people with roadblocks to employment, education and housing. We must find better ways of addressing drug abuse, reserving prison space for violent criminals, and of giving second chances to those who earn it. I'm very active on this issue with the New York State Bar Association.
- How do you balance being a criminal lawyer and an actor for an Off-Off Broadway play? How do you find the time to remain physically fit as well?
I'm so blessed that I can step outside the box of my day job and do some other fun things, like acting and writing. My role in Line was Dolan. An unknown actor named Richard Dreyfuss was in the original cast 40 years ago. How much fun was doing that?! As for working out, I still exercise hard throughout the week. Sleep is overrated, I suppose.
- What aspect of your career do you identify the most with?
I love the diversity of being able to fight in court all week and then write or act on the weekend. We are all a mix of things. Although I'm primarily a lawyer, I love that I can stretch other muscles and not define myself too narrowly or in any one role.
- Out of your many accomplishments, what are you the most proud of?
I've kept my law partnership together for 25 years and my marriage to Kathy, whom I met at Hofstra freshman orientation, for 30. Somehow, they all put up with me for all these years. That's quite an accomplishment. I'm also proud of my two wonderful daughters and of my charitable and philanthropic endeavors, including my recent work as part of the United Mavericks. Giving back is an amazing source of contentment.
Rick Collins holds degrees from Hofstra University in psychology and law. He attended Hofstra Law School on a full academic scholarship and served on the Law Review. He is a founding partner of the Long Island-based criminal defense firm Collins, McDonald & Gann and a former Nassau County assistant district attorney. His practice caters specifically to clients nationwide in the bodybuilding, fitness and nutrition communities. Rick is an internationally recognized legal authority in the area of performance enhancing drugs and supplements. His career has been profiled in diverse periodicals, and he has been interviewed as an anabolic steroid legal expert on national television, for numerous national magazine articles, and in the acclaimed documentary Bigger, Stronger, Faster (2008). He serves as the official legal advisor to the International Federation of BodyBuilders and is general counsel to the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
A health enthusiast and former competitive bodybuilder and co-owner of a personal training business, Rick is a nationally certified strength and conditioning specialist (NSCA-CSCS). He is a co-author of the popular men’s diet and exercise book Alpha Male Challenge (Rodale, 2009) and has written numerous articles and columns for health and fitness magazines.
Before devoting most of his professional time to building his law firm, Rick appeared in numerous stage productions, including Beyond the Fringe, Breaker Morant, The Rainmaker, and Bedtime Story all at Hofstra’s Spiegel Theater. More recently, he appeared at the 13th Street Rep as Dolan in the reboot of Line, New York City’s longest-running Off-Off-Broadway play, and in two staged readings at Manhattan’s Emerging Artists Theatre – New Work Series. He is also a Screen Actors Guild member and has appeared in TV and film productions, including the Toxic Avenger series.