Managing Director and Associate General Counsel, Goldman, Sachs & Co.
The only career plan Samuel Ramos ever attempted was a failure. As a senior in high school in Bay Shore on Long Island, Ramos had his sights set on the military. Someone told him that an engineering degree was the best way to win an ROTC scholarship, so he applied exclusively to engineering programs. He got into the engineering schools, but not into the ROTC — his eyesight didn’t meet the selection criteria. “This was before Lasik,” he adds.
He thought about transferring to a liberal arts college to study law — something that had intrigued him since childhood — but he was doing well in his engineering classes, so he stuck with it. Four years later, he had his degree, and six years after that he was a promising young engineer with a good job.
“During that time, I made friends with a local sole practitioner,” remembers Ramos, “and we would get together and talk about his practice and the kinds of things he was doing, and he re-sparked my interest in law.” So much for engineering.
Ramos quit his job and set off for Hofstra Law, “with the full intention of graduating and going back to Brentwood, Long Island, and being a country lawyer,” he says. “But it didn’t quite work out that way.”
“Many of us come to law school with a very naïve and narrow view of what the practice of law is,” says Ramos, who admits that his version was 70 percent Perry Mason and 30 percent L.A. Law. But that perspective broadens quickly when you attend a law school like Hofstra Law. Ramos may have had his own made-for-TV career plan, but Hugh Christianson in the Office of Career Services had different ideas.
“He found out that I had an engineering background and was convinced that I should be interviewing with some of the intellectual property law firms” for a summer placement, says Ramos. “And essentially he went over and strong-armed a couple of firms and told them they must interview me.”
Christianson’s persistence paid off. Ramos made the cut, landing his first position in corporate law, a totally new world for him. Twenty-two years later, Ramos is one of the most successful and influential attorneys in his field, serving as managing director and associate general counsel at Goldman Sachs in New York City.
But again, it wasn’t a straight path from summer intern to vice president, and that’s something that Ramos likes to tell current Hofstra Law students.
“Young people are in a rush,” he says. “They think you should graduate from law school and start making lots of money right away.” Ramos might have thought that way himself, if not for the intervention of another Hofstra Law mentor, Professor David Yellen (who went on to serve as dean of Hofstra Law from 2001-2004 and is now dean of Loyola University Chicago School of Law), who helped Ramos get an interview for a clerkship with a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in Lincoln, Nebraska.
At first, Ramos worried that Nebraska was a long way from New York and a long way from the money and prestige of corporate law, but Yellen convinced him that a clerkship with a judge of this stature would be an invaluable experience. It was excellent advice and an even better career move.
For Ramos, that’s one of the huge advantages of Hofstra Law. “As a student, you come into contact with faculty and staff who have all of this professional experience but who are willing to share that experience with you and take it upon themselves to help you along the way,” he says. “It opens up opportunities that you never even knew were available.”