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When Albany Law School and the University at Albany announced their affiliation, a new era of educational opportunities began.
Albany Law Review Editor-in-Chief Jay Oddi is a fortuitous example of the partnership at work.
One day in 2015, as Oddi worked as an assistant to the dean at UAlbany, he made the short walk from his desk to the press conference where leaders of both institutions announced the affiliation. He intended only to go and listen.
As Albany Law School President and Dean Alicia Ouellette described the institutions coming together, a light bulb switched on for him.
“I just took it as a sign that I should apply. A year later, I was here,” he said.
Before committing to law school full time, Oddi held several roles at UAlbany in both residential life and academic affairs.
Oddi intended for a law degree to be a tool to help him climb the ranks in various higher education jobs. His original plan to complete Albany Law School’s four-year J.D. program and work in the evenings was swiftly set aside when he took Introduction to Lawyering.
Oddi recalls how the exercise of writing an appellate memo—developing an argument, informing about the law, and strategizing an outcome—even in its hypothetical nature, could make a major impact.
“It was rehearsal for being able to make a difference in somebody’s life. It just dawned on me that this is what I wanted to do,” he said.
He felt a pull to public service his senior year of undergraduate studies at SUNY Binghamton after seeing the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. After a brief stint as a teacher in New York City, he was hired as a residence hall director at UAlbany.
This role was a dip into the advocacy world as he focused on the successes of hundreds of students. He had a part in everything from moving them into a dorm for the first time to dealing with myriad issues that undergraduate students experience.
In subsequent roles, he coordinated new student orientation, led various student and staff groups, and worked to resolve student-conduct cases. During that time, he also earned two master’s degrees, one in public administration, concentrating in finance and economics, and the other in higher education administration.
His prior experience in student affairs gives Oddi a certain compassion in making sure Albany Law Review members come away with a valuable experience.
“I take a little bit more time to think about how people are experiencing the law review and not just working at it. I try to pay attention to how much the 2Ls are enjoying it and getting something out of it. I’m not sure that without my professional experience I would be as tuned in,” he said.
The challenge of keeping track of articles from submission to publication is one of Oddi’s favorite parts of his role as editor-in-chief, he said. Evidence of his meticulous workflow is apparent throughout the law review office, the walls of which are covered in color-coded charts and bulletin boards. Juxtaposed are coffee cups, scribbled Post-it notes, and takeout containers—necessities to both make it through law school and publish a law review issue.
“The experience should be holistic for everyone here. At the same time, we have to put out 1,400 pages in 10 months. Finding that balance has been interesting,” Oddi said.
After graduation, he plans to work in the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department as a pool clerk. Beyond that, the draw of working in a warmer climate—perhaps Charlotte, North Carolina, where his parents currently live—is enticing, especially after 30-plus New York winters.
Wherever he lands, he hopes to find a firm where he can work as a generalist—something where no two days are alike, he said.