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Steven Engrassia ’18 is getting firsthand experience in public interest after being selected as a Catalyst Public Service Fellow. This summer, in his role as a Catalyst Fellow, Engrassia is working as a judicial intern for Justice Diccia T. Pineda-Kirwan of the New York Supreme Court 11th Judicial District, Civil Term, in Queens County, N.Y.
On a typical day, Engrassia will receive an assignment from Justice Pineda-Kirwan, conduct legal research and prepare a memorandum regarding the motion. He has also been observing the goings-on of the court.
“My experience as a Catalyst Fellow has been great,” Engrassia said. “Once a week there are settlement conferences. I have the privilege to sit in on the conferences and hear both counsels explain their position and try to settle the case. Other times there are jury selections and trials — I have the opportunity to observe them as well.”
The Catalyst Public Interest Fellowship, created to encourage first-year law students to gain practical legal experience in the public sector, was created in cooperation with the Center for Court Innovation. Engrassia was invited to attend a reception Sept. 29 in Manhattan to benefit the Catalyst Fund and will report on his experience at the conclusion of his internship.
“My experience as a Catalyst Fellow has been great. Once a week there are settlement conferences. I have the privilege to sit in on the conferences and hear both counsels explain their position and try to settle the case."
The Long Island native said he first thought about law school during his freshman year at the University of Scranton, where he majored in finance. After graduation he was hired as a legal assistant at the downstate firm Grey & Grey, LLP.
"Mr. Robert Grey, Esq., offered me the position at his firm, but more importantly he introduced me to the fundamentals of legal research, allowed me to shadow him frequently, and taught me how to behave as a professional,” Engrassia said.
Engrassia — wanting a J.D. to use in conjunction with his bachelor’s degree — chose Albany Law partly because of
its location in New York. He’s already taken advantage of the Capital Region, having interned at Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York earlier this year.
“I’m not entirely sure what field I want to go into after graduation,” he said. “I would like to find a job that allows me to utilize both my law and finance degrees. Currently, I’m leaning toward corporate law, tax law or trusts and estates. However, after interning at the courthouse and having a pleasant experience, if the right opportunity comes calling, I would consider the public sector.”
Engrassia said none of it would be possible if not for his mother, Catherine, who sustained the family after the untimely death of Steven’s father. “She has supported me and my younger triplet siblings both financially and emotionally.”
As for Albany Law, Engrassia said he’s been most impressed by the student body.
“I have met some great people, and there is not an overwhelming cut-throat attitude,” he said. “Students here are friendly, approachable and intelligent.”