With degrees in math, physics, and computer science, Donald Labriola '10 managed to retire in '91 at the age of 37 after a decade of running a successful engineering consultancy. But he's now back in the swing of things, having chosen law school over a Ferrari as a non-traditional way to ward off a mid-life crisis.
Since "retiring," he's also been writing a bit. After self-publishing an award-winning book called Rolling Your Own: How to Install Videoconferencing the Right Way, he became an analyst and Contributing Editor for Computer Shopper and PC Magazine. During those years, he split his time between his current residence in Greene County, N.Y., and an apartment in Honolulu, Hawaii.
During his computer magazine days, there were often a million copies of his byline on newsstands across North America. But his publishing continues today with a smaller, albeit more discriminating, readership. Last year he published in the Albany Law Review "'But I'm Denny Crane!' Age Discrimination in the Legal Profession After Sidley." And in January, his "Paradigmatic Dissonance: Can (and Should) the Law Save Us From Technology?" scored second prize in the N.Y. State Bar Association's writing competition, now published in the Richmond University Journal of Law & Technology.
"These days, I'm focused on patent law," Labriola recently said about his future. With an eye on a career in patent litigation, he began work this summer as a law clerk at the Albany intellectual property firm Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti.
He also hopes to someday complement his day job with a pro bono practice—modeled like a clinic—to provide free elder law services to seniors overwhelmed by the legal, healthcare, or insurance systems. "In a perfect world, I'd entice attorneys in the area to join me in contributing pro bono services. There is an enormous unmet need for this kind of legal resource today, given the abuses that are too often heaped upon the elderly."
This goal was partly inspired by a semester in the Health Law Clinic, where he was part of a team that convinced Blue Shield to revise its policy barring coverage for experimental brain cancer treatments. That case was highlighted in the New York Law Journal, photo and all.
When he's not in school or at work, Labriola lives with his husband Ray and cares for his spunky 93-year-old mother, Virginia. And he has no plans to retire again any time soon.
Kaitlyn Jorge, 20, recently arrived in Albany from Washington state to join the Class of 2012 as its youngest student.
"During the last two years of high school, I took advantage of a program that allowed me to take courses at a local community college," she said. This accelerated pace helped Jorge earn her associate's degree by the time most of her classmates were getting their high school diplomas. It also made possible her two-year stint at the University of Washington in Seattle, from which she emerged with a bachelor's degree in history.
"I pursued a degree in history because I have always been interested in why societies are the way that they are and how it is that they come to be that way," said Jorge. "Law is an instrument to measure how society changes over time, and of course it is also a force that helps drive change within society."
Her long-time interest in history also helped make the Northeast an especially appealing destination for law school. "I spent a lot of time studying the American Revolution and the Civil War—two events that drastically changed the way this country operated both legally and morally—so to be able to see the physical space where these events occurred is something that makes the stories that much more real and significant for me."
Jorge, who was born in Minnesota, lived in Texas before moving to Washington, where she attended high school and college. Aside from a trip to Albany in July to track down an apartment, and a brief visit to Washington, D.C., a few years ago, this is Jorge's first time on the East Coast.
She has plans to explore Albany, including the Capitol building and many of the other historic sites scattered throughout the region. She also hopes to take trips to nearby cities, including Boston, Philadelphia and New York. These aspirations, of course, are all contingent upon her ability to manage the heavy reading load of a first-year law student.
Jorge was attracted to Albany as New York state's capital. Although her legal career is still in its most nascent stage, she is interested in ultimately pursuing constitutional or civil law.
"The law touches every aspect of human life, whether it be directly, indirectly or through omission," Jorge concluded. "So, I feel like it's important to not only know the law, but also to be an active participant in its maintenance and creation."