headshots of four law students

Meet Our Law Students: Humans of NYLS, April 2022

As “New York’s law school,” our students represent the drive, diversity, leadership, and ambition of the city itself. Throughout the year, the Student Bar Association highlights the achievements and contributions of members of the student body, who are nominated by their peers, with the “Humans of NYLS” series. Learn more about a few of the students in our vibrant community. 

Mandel Dawkins 2L

Mandel Dawkins was born in Brooklyn, New York and moved to Long Island during the early years of grade school. After graduating from Chaminade High School, he relocated to Atlanta, Georgia to attend Morehouse College. He double majored in political science and philosophy with a minor in English. During his studies, he became a member of Phi Mu Alpha Fraternity, Inc., where he served as Parliamentarian and President. He also served as Senior Class Justice for the Student Government Association.

After graduating, Dawkins sought employment within the field of law. His first opportunity came as a legal assistant for the Town Attorney’s Office in Hempstead, Long Island, dealing with civil litigation. Opportunities later followed in landlord/tenant, real estate, and personal injury litigation. At the Midtown Manhattan Personal Injury law firm, he assisted clients who were part of the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund—a matter very near to his heart because his mother is a 9/11 survivor. His current interest in medical malpractice and product liability took shape during this time.

At NYLS, Dawkins sought health law-related student activity groups. He is the first in his family to attend law school and knows that a proper network is essential. He is currently on the executive board for the Health Law Society and the Black Law Students Association. He also works as a Student Ambassador for the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, advocating on behalf of incoming under-represented law students.

He enjoys playing his trumpet and occasionally listening to the DJ mixes that he created before beginning law school. Dawkins also enjoys philanthropic work with his Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity brothers, assisting Queens, New York residents in need.

Katherine Pitz 4L Evening

During her time as an evening student at New York Law School, Katherine Pitz has participated in the Patent Law Clinic and has taken just about every intellectual property class NYLS has to offer. During the day, she works as a mechanical project engineer at Kohler Ronan, a mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) firm in New York City. There, Pitz and her team design mechanical systems for notable buildings, including the New York Public Library on 5th Avenue, the South Street Seaport Museum, and the Lincoln Center David Geffen Hall. Last summer, Pitz became a licensed professional engineer in the state of New York.

Pitz became interested in becoming a patent attorney during her senior year of undergraduate study. She liked the idea of working with doctors and other engineers to protect their inventions, especially medical devices. Upon graduation, she will be working for a patent prosecution firm in Chicago and looks forward to working on medical device patents.

She grew up in Millbrook, New York, and currently resides in Manhattan. She travels to upstate New York as often as possible to hike, mountain bike, or ski. She is also part of the interesting group of people willing to sign up for—and run—the New York City Marathon. Pitz ran the 2019 and 2021 New York City Marathons and plans to keep running marathons until she breaks four hours.

Sammy Silverstein 1L

Sammy Silverstein was born in Florida and grew up in Maryland with her parents, younger sister, and dog, Rocco. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Florida in 2018, where she majored in advertising and received a certificate in political campaigning. During her undergraduate years, Silverstein worked on political campaigns and did research with her election law professors. She was also very involved with her major and thought she would work in political advertising in Washington, D.C. upon graduation. Eventually, she started applying to jobs in New York and took an offer in the city. She never expected to be in New York, but now she never plans to leave.

Silverstein has always wanted to make a positive difference in the world, and after three years in the ad sales industry, she realized she needed a career she was passionate about. So, she applied to law school. She plans to go into public interest law upon admission to the bar. Silverstein will be interning for Safeplace International in Athens, Greece this summer, providing legal aid to refugees seeking asylum from persecution for their LGBTQ+ identity.

On the rare occasion that she isn’t doing schoolwork, Silverstein is out and about in the city, shooting film photography and making Spotify playlists.

Elsie Tan 3L Evening

At NYLS, Elsie Tan is a Junior Staff Editor for the New York Law School Law Review and a Junior Editor for the Family Law Quarterly.

During the day, she currently works as a defense litigation paralegal at Darger Errante Yavitz & Blau LLP (DEYB), specializing in asbestos litigation. In her work as a paralegal at DEYB, she has learned to draft different disclosures and motions, and to do trial preparation work, and through her work, she has learned a lot about boilers, furnaces, roofing material, brakes, and clutches. When she is not studying, reading, or working, Tan enjoys re-watching all the seasons of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit or video chatting with her high school friends for hours.

This summer, she will be an intern at the New York City Law Department—hopefully assigned to their Family Court Division. Upon graduation, she wishes to pursue a career either in family law, criminal law, or a combination of both.