I grew up in Port Washington, N.Y., less than 20 miles from Manhattan. As a teen, I worked one summer for Publishers Clearinghouse in their sweepstakes department with nearly 100 other teens. It was fun. We opened and sorted the sweepstakes forms that people completed and mailed back. When the assignment ended, my boss asked me to stay on for the rest of the summer in the marketing department. The experience taught me that, regardless of the job, if you're diligent and conscientious it pays off.

I attended Syracuse University initially as an architecture major. It's a field I'm still passionate about, but I thought it would make a better avocation than vocation. I changed my major and graduated with a B.S. in accounting in 1985. I got a job with Ernst & Young — then Ernst & Whinney — and worked as a CPA for three years, but always intended to go to law school. After graduating from Brooklyn Law School in 1991, I worked for the New York law firm Proskauer Rose LLP in their trusts and estates group for about nine years.

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