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It took some convincing — convincing of himself
— for Lenard Brumfield ’16 to apply to law school. Fast-forward some years and Brumfield is freshly graduated with a J.D. degree and a job at a firm in New York City.
Looking back, the Freeport, N.Y. native said his turning point came during undergrad at The College of Saint Rose.
“I grew up in a poor family, in a bad area of Long Island where you don’t see many people succeed,” Brumfield said. “In my sophomore year, I realized that I wanted to be an attorney, but I thought that I wouldn’t be good enough because I wasn’t exposed to those kinds of things. You just don’t think that you can be good enough. So it wasn’t until senior year that I was like, I might as well just go for it — and it ended up working out.”
“I learned, and I would tell anybody in a similar situation, that it’s OK to see yourself in law school,” he added.
“You can’t really pass up that [NYC] experience as a young attorney. I’m embracing all the possibilities.”
Brumfield earned his B.S. in criminal justice from Saint Rose and was accepted to law schools in cities across the Northeast, including Boston and New York. He ultimately decided to stay in Albany to maintain relationships that he already had in the area — a choice that was clinched after
a visit to campus for Accepted Students Day.
“All the professors and the administration were just so nice,” he said. “They made us feel welcome. That was when I knew I was in the right place.”
The summer after his first year, Brumfield interned at the Albany County District Attorney’s Office, where he was first seat for a successful prosecution involving unlawful possession of marijuana. At the DA’s office he met an attorney who steered him toward private practice and ended up working at the Albany firm Carter Conboy for his 2L year. He was hired as a summer associate at Mound Cotton Wollan & Greengrass LLP in Garden City, N.Y., and, back in the Capital Region, clerked at Wilson Elser in the fall of 2015.
“All the work experience — that was my favorite part of law school,” Brumfield said. “And I always liked taking practical classes because I like doing real-world things.”
His time at Mound Cotton Wollan & Greengrass was particularly rewarding for multiple reasons. First, Brumfield was given advice that resonated with him: perhaps, because he had a hard time detaching from his clients and their circumstances, criminal law was not his calling.
“I think that's something people should hear because, even if you have that attachment, if you are passionate about the field, you probably aren't thinking that another route may be better for you,” he said.
And then shortly after completing his summer work at the firm — where he provided valuable assistance on a number of insurance and reinsurance cases — Brumfield received an offer of employment. He was told that he would be working at the firm’s headquarters in Manhattan’s financial district, just about 30 miles west of his hometown.
“You can’t really pass up that experience as a young attorney,” Brumfield said. “I’m embracing all the possibilities.”