Hofstra Law alumnus Andrew L. Oringer ’84 is a partner and co-chair of the ERISA and Executive Compensation group at Dechert LLP and leads the firm’s national fiduciary practice in New York. A Fellow of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel, Oringer holds leadership roles for the American Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association and is on the advisory boards for a number of leading publications covering ERISA and executive compensation. At Hofstra Law, he teaches ERISA as an adjunct professor and serves on the Alumni Association’s Career Services Committee.
How did your experience as a student at Hofstra Law prepare you for your legal career?
Well, my experience is a bit different here. I met and married my wife, a fellow student, before the beginning of the second semester. So that prepared me for everything. On the more mundane side, to me the main benefit of law school from an education perspective is that it teaches you how to think like a lawyer. The process of finding the right question is very different from that of finding the right answer. I also found the subject matter and the professors to be extremely engaging. The professors were always accessible, which to me was important. I also found the journal experience to be invaluable in terms of honing how one thinks about legal writing.
Why did you want to become an adjunct professor at Hofstra Law?
I enjoy academics, I want to give back to Hofstra Law, I enjoy my practice area, and I like interacting with students — that’s all a recipe for wanting to be an adjunct. I threw it out there for a few years, and then one year the professor that had the course was letting it go, and so the timing was right.
What has been your most rewarding experience as a professor?
My favorite experience, I think, involved a student who was clearly engaged in my class. Overall, he was a good student. In my class, however, he was spectacular. Something clicked. He was such a positive influence on the class. And his final exam, which was unlimited open book, was so good that I had to change the rules for the exam going forward.
After he graduated he went into the government in my area. I asked him whether he took my class because of a preexisting interest, and he said that he hadn’t. It was something of a spontaneous choice, and it just resonated. Once in the government, he immediately made himself known and useful in my area. Upon leaving the public sector for private practice, he got a prominent high-profile tier-one job. Maybe he would have succeeded like this had we never met, but, frankly, I really doubt it. He’s now a friend, peer, client and colleague, and the effect my class had on his life and future may be my biggest professional thrill of all in terms of my impact on others.
How else do you stay involved with the Law School, and why do you think it is important to give back?
I like giving back for its own sake. For me, there’s an unusual aspect, because of having met and married my wife in law school. But Hofstra Law’s always been good to me, and it’s a joy to help the school out. I do a lot of recruiting, and it’s truly a special thrill to be involved in a situation in which a student’s career — and therefore life — is permanently set on a certain course that might never have been available to the student but for my efforts. I’ve also served (and continue to serve) on any number of alumni committees. The mercenary aspect is that the better Hofstra Law and its students do, the better for me as a graduate, but for me that’s an ancillary benefit of the effort, not a reason to make the effort.
I host an admitted-student event and facilitate interview meetings with a certain DA office. I also work a lot with Career Services generally, and it’s been great getting to know the various deans — one of whom I had as a professor! In addition, my wife and I fund a scholarship for a worthy student, the first of which was awarded this past year. There also have clearly been situations in which my mentoring of and discussions with students in connection with their job searches have allowed them to have jobs and indeed careers (both with my firms over the years and otherwise) that they would not otherwise have had. Something more satisfying in the professional context is hard for me to imagine.
What career advice do you have for current Hofstra Law students?
If you get what you want out of the gate, that’s great. If you don’t, look for that circuitous path, that niche, towards the success you want. There’s no assurance you’ll get there, but if you stop trying, there’s assurance you won’t.
Also, get involved with the practice as such. Recently, as the chair of the New York State Bar Association Committee on Attorney Professionalism, I’ve led the successful effort to re-up the Standards of Civility for lawyers in New York. More recently, I’ve been appointed to the Association’s Task Force that’s charged with considering possibly significant changes regarding the bar exam in New York. These are satisfying and rewarding endeavors on just so many levels.