Matthew B. Tully, Esq. (B.A.,’95)
What was your favorite class, who was your favorite professor, or what is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
Early in my studies at Hofstra, I remember debating in one of my political science classes with then Political Science Professor Stephen Burgess about the judicial process and its impact on certain social and economically disadvantaged citizens. I found his classes and the course work stimulating, and I believe that what I learned helped to develop my commitment to influencing policy through the judicial-legal process to better serve the employment rights of individuals.
What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
Having been enrolled in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) for four years, I was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army in the spring of 1995, in addition to receiving my diploma from Hofstra. While waiting to begin the Office Basic Course, I got a job the following August as a federal law enforcement officer with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Federal Bureau of Prisons. Two months later, I was activated and took an unpaid leave of absence from my civilian job to attend military schooling. I remained on active duty until April 2008. From both the Justice Department and the Army, I learned the management skills that later enabled me to found a leading employment law firm that now has offices in Albany, New York; Arlington, Virginia; and Washington, D.C.
What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
I concentrate my practice on protecting the employment rights of the men and women who serve our country in the armed services. I came to work in this industry when an employer discriminated against me because of my military service. I fought the discrimination, which would have left me with either a reduced role or looking for a new job. With the proceeds from my successful lawsuit, coupled with GI Bill assistance, I attended law school.
What at Hofstra gave you your edge?
Hofstra surrounded me with very intelligent and ambitious people who have opened my eyes to new perspectives and business opportunities. Greg Rinckey is a perfect example. At Hofstra, Greg and I were enrolled in ROTC. Nine years after we both graduated, and after Greg wrapped up a six-year career with the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps.(JAG), he joined my fledgling law firm as a partner. Together, we took the business to the next level.
What advice would you give current Hofstra students?
Be aggressive. Take risks. Don’t wait for the “perfect” moment to make your move. Your determination will make the moment as perfect as it’s going to get. With limited financial resources, I started my law practice at the kitchen table of my home in New York’s Catskill Mountains. Always move forward.
In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years I expect to be running the nation’s largest employment law firm.
What is the single most rewarding experience in your career thus far?
Nothing has been more rewarding than watching my business grow into something that can protect the employment rights of people in the military, federal civil service and private sector, regardless of where they live. Few things feel worse than having an employer mess with your employment rights. Not much feels better than helping workers exercise those rights so they can go on providing for their families and living fulfilling lives.
Matthew Tully (B.A.,’95) has spent his adult life crafting goals he thought were too big to attain and then achieving them systematically through grit and determination. Long before he became a worldwide face for military and federal employment law, Mr. Tully was a working-class kid with big dreams and desire to match.
On Sept. 11, 2001, while employed in the legal department of Morgan Stanley, Mr. Tully escaped from his office in the World Trade Center and shortly thereafter relocated with his family to upstate New York. There he started a law practice out of his house. He began providing legal services to friends and former colleagues, but the firm quickly outgrew his home, and, with fellow Hofstra graduate Greg Rinckey (’95) as managing partner, Tully Rinckey PLLC opened an office in Albany, N.Y. in 2004. The firm’s success in federal employment and military law resulted in the opening of additional offices in Washington, D.C., Arlington, Va. and New York City.
Mr. Tully concentrates his practice on the representation of military personnel and federal sector employees. He has represented federal employees before numerous federal agencies and has appeared in court before the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Tully has become a pioneer in the field of Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) litigation, winning several landmark cases that have greatly influenced the laws protecting U.S. veterans.
His leadership in military law is reflected in his role as a nationally syndicated columnist for the Army Times Publishing Company, where his “Ask the Lawyer” column is featured biweekly in Army Times, Air Force Times, Navy Times and Marine Corps Times.
A lieutenant colonel in the New York Army National Guard, Mr. Tully was admitted as a solicitor to the Supreme Court of England and Wales, becoming one of the few American attorneys licensed in a foreign country.