“Law runs deep in my family and has always been a passion of mine,” says Julian Delgado ’14 (Schenectady, N.Y.), a double major in English and film & media studies. “This externship was my first real exposure to the courtroom. This experience made me want to continue courses about theory and literature to broaden my view of law.”
Over winter break, Delgado, Ruth Dennehy ’12 (Cream Ridge, N.J.), a double major in economics and psychology, and Andrew Anastor ’13 (Vineland, N.J.), a government and law major, shadowed Joel Pisano ’71, a U.S. district court judge in New Jersey. Pisano was nominated to the bench by President Bill Clinton and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2000.
“Judge Pisano was very friendly and welcoming,” says Dennehy. “He made sure the other externs and I had a positive experience by letting us see what he does on a daily basis and by explaining things along the way. I learned a lot about the federal court system and both the judge and clerks’ roles in court proceedings.”
During the externship, the students observed proceedings in Pisano’s courtroom as well as those of his colleagues of the U.S. District Court of New Jersey in Trenton. They saw the preparation that goes into each trial and sentencing by the judge and his staff.
“I was definitely nervous at first going through security and the cameras staring at you in the face. Initially it was intimidating, but once I was in the chambers Judge Pisano had a relaxed demeanor,” says Delgado. “I could tell he has a strong passion for what he does. His cases taught me that the choices people make can determine where they spend the rest of their life.”
All three students are considering going to law school after graduating from Lafayette.
“This experience strengthened my passion for law,” says Delgado. “There is something about the field that keeps you on your toes daily and forces you to do more than the monotonous routine of most professions. Essentially no two cases are exactly the same.”
“This externship made me even more adamant about achieving my goal of going to law school and becoming a trial attorney,” says Anastor. “I hope to someday specialize in prosecution for criminal cases. Spending time with Judge Pisano allowed me to realize that justice is not always achieved by incarcerating or penalizing someone for breaking the law, but by giving the accused the best opportunity of rehabilitation so that they may return to a law-abiding life among society.”
Pisano stresses the importance of students networking and using alumni connections to their advantage, as he received his first job because of a Lafayette connection.
“As a student, I spent a lot of time with Herm Kissiah, dean of students emeritus, resolving issues affecting the student body. I think I first realized that I might have an aptitude for the bar as a result of those experiences negotiating fair outcomes,” says Pisano. “Later, after graduating from Seton Hall Law School, I found my first position through Ed Kirby ’58, who ran the public defender’s office in Essex County, N.J.”