Many can agree that the path to a legal education is a journey, but for David Crossman ’17 to even begin his legal education here at Albany Law School he had to venture from Juneau, Alaska to Albany, New York … by car.
The third-year student described the two-week trek as a hurdle. “I’m lucky my wife Jane and I still liked each other after the whole thing,” he said. “It was pretty difficult getting to Albany. I remember arriving only the night before orientation and still trying to figure out where we were going to live.”
"I remember the first time I really considered going to law school, I was working in Juneau ... and I thought, ‘I don’t want to be reading about these things on break at work; I want to be in the action. I want to make change."
Crossman’s pre-law-school life is actually what brought him to study law in the first place. “I worked over a decade for Kathy Scheele, Vermont director of elections,” said Crossman. “She really encouraged me to pursue law; she always thought it would be a field that would continue to interest me.” After that, Crossman interned at the Vermont State Senate and even at one point worked on a panel with Bernie Sanders on higher education funding.
His dream of becoming a lawyer began in earnest in 2013 when he was living in Alaska, working for he board of elections.
“I remember the first time I really considered going to law school, I was working in Juneau, on break at work and reading about the Shelby County vs. Holder case, and I thought, ‘I don’t want to be reading about these things on break at work; I want to be in the action. I want to make change,’” he said.
Although it was a struggle in itself to get here, Crossman hasn’t stopped working hard since he arrived. His advice to other law students? “I encourage all law students to look beyond the legal — everything we do has an impact. It’s not just about law, it’s about people.”
Much of his work at Albany Law School has directly impacted the lives of people in the community. In fall of 2016, Crossman took part in the Veteran’s Rights Pro Bono Project, which provides a wide range of legal services to local veterans.
“During my time spent working on the Veteran’s Rights Pro Bono Project this fall, I saw how we made an impact. Those interactions that we made were both very meaningful and powerful,” Crossman said.
“During my time spent working on the Veteran’s Rights Pro Bono Project this fall, I saw how we made an impact. Those interactions that we made were both very meaningful and powerful.”
The 3L student who has a passion for public interest work is continuing on a path that will help him change people’s lives for the better. He recently interned with the New York State Worker’s Compensation Board. “It was an excellent opportunity and a great experience with writing as well,” he said.
The Pro Bono Society at Albany Law gives students the opportunity to work in small groups with the supervision of a faculty member and a community partner as well as the option to take the bar exam before graduation. Crossman also took part in the statewide Pro Bono Scholars program, and was part of the law school's American Bar Association Negotiations moot court team during fall of 2015.
“Negotiations is the heart of what we do. It’s how we deal with people effectively,” Crossman said. “Being a part of that team itself will be something that I will always remember about my time spent at Albany Law School.”
“The heart of this school is its faculty,” said Crossman while discussing some of the professors who opened up their doors for him whenever he sought help. “Professor Nancy Maurer coached the negotiations team; she was my first-year advisor, and has always been generous with her time.”
Another professor who made an impact on his life during law school was Professor Jenean Taranto, who led the 3L to negotiations in the first place. “She was my professor for 1L lawyering and also taught Negotiating for Lawyers, which introduced me to negotiations in that format and piqued my interest,” Crossman said.
Crossman plans to find himself involved in some kind of public interest work after graduation.
“I didn’t come here necessarily to make more money. I came here to make a difference,” he said.
Today, following a two-week drive across North America and three years of law school, Crossman is preparing for graduation after taking the February bar exam. It’s clear to see that Crossman’s next exciting journey will not be via car, but instead by where his career in law takes him.
In preparing for that journey he plans to stick to the advice he would’ve given his younger self: “Take a deep breath.”