Alumnus of the Month: August 2008
Miguel Pozo '94
What is your edge (strength)?
My edge comes from, among other things, my ability to look within myself for motivation and a sense of direction. I treat every day like it could be my last; I treat every project and every client like it is my first; and I thank God daily – in advance – for the strength to forge ahead.
What at Hofstra gave you your edge?
I decided to come to Hofstra University because from the moment I visited the campus, I was made to feel like part of the Hofstra family.
I was also impressed with the diverse student body at Hofstra and with the significant financial aid assistance that I received through the NOAH Program. I probably could not have afforded a college education without this assistance.
Hofstra nurtured my hunger for growth and my thirst for exposure to new things. It taught me to push the envelope as a means to achieve that growth. The professors, the faculty, and my fellow students taught me the value of speaking up, testing the boundaries, and challenging mediocrity.
As a student leader at Hofstra, I also learned how to challenge myself and others to dream. Most importantly, I acquired the tools and skills – academic, social and interpersonal – to achieve those dreams.
In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
What was your major?
What was your favorite class?
Any political science course taught by Dr. Leslie Feldman. She is intelligent, compassionate and inspirational. Dr. Feldman had a tremendous capacity for tapping into your mental "power station" and making the "bulb" go off in your mind.
What is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
I have so many fond memories of Hofstra University, so it is difficult to choose just one.
I enjoyed the intellectual debates. I benefited from the many cultural and political opportunities for growth. I was enriched by the vast leadership opportunities presented by the many student organizations.
I developed a deeper sense of character and self-awareness as a result of my interaction with the diverse student population, which included students from around the world.
I was a leader and chapter president in my fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha. I vividly remember the community service projects, and the many "stepshow" performances that my fraternity brothers and I conducted for the Hofstra community – many times in conjunction and/or healthy competition with other fraternities and sororities at Hofstra.
As a member of the student judiciary, I learned fairness and gained the respect of my peers. The many campus events and activities created camaraderie on campus that was truly special.
But most of all, I appreciated the diversity of ideas and viewpoints, the passion of the students and professors, and the constant feeling that I was being prepared to make a difference in the world after leaving Hofstra.
What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
I wanted to be an attorney since I was 7 years old. Hofstra was a critical step toward preparing me for what I do today and for helping me achieve my dreams.
I am a partner in the litigation department of Lowenstein Sandler PC, one of the largest firms in New Jersey. With more than 275 lawyers, we represent clients in a wide range of corporate matters and have offices in Roseland, New Jersey; New York City; Palo Alto, California; and Boston, Massachusetts.
As a commercial litigator, I represent Fortune 500 companies and specialize in resolving all types of business and corporate disputes through trial or alternative dispute resolution.
I began my career at Lowenstein Sandler as a summer associate in 1996, and have been practicing law for nearly 10 years.
Whom in your field do you most admire?
Theodore V. Wells, Esq., former Lowenstein Sandler partner, mentor, and friend. Few people have his unparalleled intelligence, people skills, grace, and temperament. He is regarded as one of the most prominent white collar criminal defense lawyers in the country. He is truly one of a kind. Ted is one of the main reasons I came to Lowenstein Sandler.
What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
I was a paralegal at the law firm of Willkie Farr & Gallagher in New York City right after I graduated from Hofstra University and before starting law school at Rutgers University School of Law in Newark.
What advice would you give current Hofstra students?
Follow your dreams. You will miss 100 percent of the shots that you do not take in life. Aim for the sky; you just might catch a star.
How do you balance work and life?
Achieving balance is daily process. I work to live, not live to work. I keep my friends and family close.
I work out regularly and make time – even if only 5 minutes – to sit alone, in complete quietude. This allows me to maintain my sense of direction.
I also work with clients that I like and truly care about. I volunteer on several bar associations, including the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey. I serve on the boards of several charities, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of Newark. I frequently speak to and mentor law students at Rutgers Law School -Newark. Finally, I prioritize my life as follows: God, family, work, and me. Perhaps not a perfect formula; but it works.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Continuing to make an impact on young people. I want to build bridges that connect people and offer young people opportunities to realize their dreams. I anticipate continuing to use the law to do that.
What is the single most rewarding experience in your career thus far?
There have been many high points in my relatively short career. However, the common denominator has been the opportunity – in everything I have done – to lead by example.
I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to use my work within and outside my law practice to open doors for others. To me, the opportunity to serve others is one of the highest callings to which one can aspire.
Finally, while I have received accolades for my work, including being named a "Rising Star" by the New Jersey Super Lawyers magazine, coming to work everyday is by far the greatest reward.
Can you describe the value of having studied political science as a precursor to your law degree?
The study of political science allowed me to see the interconnectedness of the political process and the laws that govern our society.
I learned the value and importance of the "rule of law;" as well as the importance of protecting against the abuses inherent in a system where the many influence and to some degree control the lives of the few.
I also spent a semester working at the New York State Assembly as part of an internship provided through the Hofstra Political Science Department. The experience was invaluable.
You are dedicated to serving the public, specifically those who suffer from social and economic disadvantage. What drives your compassion and dedication to people?
My grandmother taught me that investing in people is the greatest investment you can make. Later in life, I realized that investing in young people is truly the greatest investment of all.
That is one of the main reasons I became involved with the Boys & Girls Club of Newark. As a board member, I help to ensure that the clubs have a meaningful impact on the lives of young people who live in urban settings wrought with crime, drugs, and gang violence.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Newark create a supportive environment free from drugs, gang violence, and many of the social ills that prey on our youth. We offer young people opportunities. We offer them positive role models. We offer them a chance.
In fact, in early July 2008, Essence Magazine named me one of its 2008 "Do Right Men," for my work with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Newark. I am especially proud and humbled by this honor, which is bestowed on 50 men across the country.
What was it like to be honored as one of the "50 Leading Women and Minority Attorneys" in New Jersey?
It was truly humbling to be honored for doing the right thing – giving back to the community and trying to create opportunities for others.
Frankly, I was especially moved by the "Vale La Pena" Community Service Award I received earlier this year from the Boy Scouts of America. That award is special because it represents my commitment to helping our young people get ahead.
What words of wisdom would you offer new attorneys just graduating law school?
The law allows you to change the lives of others and to make a positive impact. That is a privilege; be passionate about it.
Miguel's parents instilled in him the importance of embracing his roots, becoming involved in the community and advocating for the rights of others. It is these values, in part, which led him to a career in the legal profession. He believes that service is a privilege and a responsibility that we should all embrace.
Mr. Pozo is currently a litigation partner at Lowenstein Sandler PC, one of New Jersey's largest law firms with over 275 lawyers. He represents clients in federal and state court litigation involving business torts, contract disputes, employment litigation, and class actions. Miguel's legal career has also included award winning pro bono work and significant community involvement.
Miguel earned a B.A. in political science from Hofstra University in 1994. While at Hofstra, Miguel was an active student leader involved in several organizations including the Student Judiciary Board and the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., among others. After Hofstra, he went on to Rutgers University School of Law - Newark, where he earned a J.D. in 1998.
Practicing law for the last 10 years, Miguel has received a number of accolades from his peers in the legal community. For example, in 2005, Miguel was featured as one of "50 Leading Women and Minority Attorneys" by the New Jersey Law Journal. In 2007, Miguel was named a "Rising Star" by New Jersey Super Lawyers magazine for his experience in business litigation.
Most recently, Essence Magazine honored Miguel for his outstanding community service efforts, which have included his work with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Newark, New Jersey. Miguel is one of 50 men and the only attorney honored by the magazine this year.