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Roman Levites

College: CUNY Baccalaureate Degree
Awards: Accepted to Benjamin Cardozo School of Law, 2012

Outstanding Student

Born in Moscow and now a U.S. citizen, Roman Levites chose CUNY BA so he could design a degree that would capitalize on a subject for which he had a great interest, aptitude and knowledge.

Several years ago, Levites (CUNY BA, BS in Technology and the Law, 2012) began volunteering at the nonprofit housing law firm Eviction Intervention Services, which operated out of a church on 63rd Street in Manhattan. He worked on many jobs while assigned as paralegal for the senior lawyer who trained him.

Two months into his volunteer service, the firm offered him a full-time paid position. He managed the court calendar, performed client intakes and case management, researched case law, prepared pleadings, submitted court documents, appeared on behalf of clients as a tenant advocate at the Department of Social Services and New York City Housing Authority hearings and interacted with opposing lawyers.

He also wrote grant proposals, assisted the senior lawyer with training new lawyers, case workers and interns, assisted in legal clinics for senior citizens and translated for non-English- speaking clients. During budget cuts in 2008, he was laid off but continued as a volunteer. Shortly thereafter, he got a full-time position as the legal clinics administrator/office manager/ paralegal for the legal clinics at Cardozo School of Law/Yeshiva University. He has been there ever since.

At Cardozo, his responsibilities include managing the caseloads for the Criminal Appeals and Criminal Defense Clinics. Each involves filing and serving papers in state and federal court, as well as other courts, including landlord/tenant, civil, immigration and surrogates. He is also the administrator of the case management software used by the legal clinics and has become their resident expert in legal technology, guiding faculty and students in the use of the technology and troubleshooting electronic and software issues.

"For years, I had a desire to attend law school," he says. "My area of concentration did not influence my choice of graduate school, but the graduate school where I work did influence my choice of a concentration. I believe that understanding law, the philosophy and psychology behind it, as well as the technology that encompasses it today, are all important toward my formation as an attorney."

In law school, he plans to concentrate on landlord-tenant law and the laws regarding the Internet and technology.

Levites started college as an apprehensive adult: He was 33 when he enrolled at Kingsborough Community College. In his first semester, he took on a 17-credit course load although he was working full time, expecting his first child and caring for his elderly mother. Three Dean's List semesters later, he'd earned 69 credits (which included six Honors courses), a 3.77 GPA, a Presidential Honors Scholarship Award and his associate's degree. He describes feeling empowered by Kingsborough's attentive faculty, diverse and energetic student body and beautiful campus.

He entered CUNY BA in 2011, making Baruch his home campus. For his area, he took courses at Baruch, City Tech, John Jay and Medgar Evers Colleges, in law, accounting, computer information systems, graphic design, philosophy and psychology. In 2012, he was awarded 15 life-experience credits by CUNY BA for his work in legal research, writing and procedures. He will attend Cardozo School of Law in the fall.