The Colgate Scene
People on the go
Doug Levine '72 [Photos by Timothy D. Sofranko]
Since graduating from Colgate, Doug Lavine '72 has been a journalist, federal prosecutor, a lecturer in law and, since 1993, a Connecticut Superior Court judge.
"I've always had this great divergence between law, teaching or journalism," said Lavine. "I've struggled to find a way to blend them."
Lavine's struggle came to an end this past summer with the release of his first book, Cardinal Rules of Advocacy: Understanding and Mastering Fundamental Principles of Persuasion. The book, published by the National Institute of Trial Advocacy, reflects Lavine's personal observations of how lawyers conduct themselves in court.
"What has been amazing to me over the years is watching lawyers come in who don't even know that they have to tailor their argument to the audience that is the decision maker," Lavine said.
Too often, he expained, lawyers allow their egos to overwhelm their common sense.
"Let's assume you're charged with robbing a bank and I'm your lawyer. I come into court and start passionately arguing that `this is an outrage and that you're being framed.' You're sitting there listening to me, going `yeah, alright' but the judge is simply nodding his head and, perhaps, saying `right . . .' After court is adjourned a reporter interviews you and then writes a story about how good a lawyer you are," Lavine said. "Well, you may have impressed your client and the reporter, but you haven't impressed the decision maker -- the judge."
Lavine's academic interest in advocacy and legal persuasion goes back more than two decades, when he wrote to the late Walter Gellhorn, then a professor at Columbia Law School, and proposed that he be allowed to craft his own course of study in the school's master of law (L.L.M.) program. Gellhorn invited Lavine in to discuss his proposal and was impressed enough to give his approval.
"I'm grateful to this day for that," Lavine said. "I spent an entire year reading, writing and thinking about what creates persuasive advocacy."
Although Lavine considered a career in law while at Colgate, the former Maroon reporter and editor chose journalism at first. After earning a masters degree at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism (where he roomed with Howard Fineman '70), Lavine became a reporter for the Journal Inquirer, a tabloid newspaper in Manchester, Conn. While working on a story about the first blind student to attend the University of Connecticut School of Law, Lavine decided to apply to the school himself. After graduating from there with honors, Lavine worked briefly for a law firm but left because he didn't find the work gratifying. Instead, he decided to cover the legal profession as a reporter for the New York Law Journal and National Law Journal. After completing his L.L.M., Lavine decided to resuscitate his legal career.
"I felt I needed to give the law another chance because it continued to intrigue me," he said.
After nearly five years as a litigator for a law firm in Hartford, Conn., Lavine worked as an assistant United States Attorney from 1986 to 1993, when he was named to his first eight-year term as a Superior Court judge in Connecticut. (Lavine was reappointed to a second term in 2001.)
Lavine is currently working on a second book, which he plans to call Questions from the Bench.
"It's about how lawyers can more effectively answer questions from judges," he said.
As part of his research, Lavine is reviewing the complete transcripts of 25 arguments before the United States Supreme Court. He will also focus on the appellate arguments presented in different cases by three of the most prominent constitutional lawyers of the last century: Laurence Tribe H'97, Archibald Cox and, one of Lavine's personal heroes, the late Supreme Court Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall.
"He [Marshall] understood that all advocacy and persuasion is self induced. He was a great advocate because he knew that when you persuade someone to do something, you have to persuade them to do it for their reasons, not your reasons."
Lavine hopes to write more books, perhaps even a screenplay, but is exponentially more satisfied with his legal career than he was shortly after graduating from law school.
"I love what I do. The reason I love this is I can use my legal skills to serve the community and do things day in and day out that are extremely important," he said. "It goes back to Coleman Brown (professor of philosophy and religion, emeritus and university chaplain, emeritus) at Colgate. He, probably more than any person in my life, persuaded me that I had a moral and social obligation to do what I could to improve my community and make the world a better place. I'm incredibly blessed that my job allows me to do that." GEF
Lorraine Coulter '03
The notion of following a one-mile swim with a 40-kilometer bicycle ride, and then undertaking a 10-kilometer run sounds outrageous to most people. Lorraine Coulter '03 is not most people. Although Coulter admitted to once considering triathletes "superhuman," she has now accepted the challenge, yet by no means considers herself superwoman.
Coming from an athletic family, Coulter has always been involved in sports. A star on her high school tennis team, she continued the sport at Colgate. She was introduced to triathlons by spending the summer after her first year with several triathletes, including her cousins. Though her participation in such an event seemed "kind of out there, it triggered the possibility in my head," she said. She got involved with running and participated in her first road race, a 30K, in Utica, her sophomore year.
"I actually ran with Andy Lamb (former director of purchasing) and computer science professor Phil Mulry. Running the race with them was such a great time. The fact that it was my first road race and we did well boosted my confidence and showed me a little of what the possibilities were. It was a great introduction to racing," Coulter recalled.
A semester abroad in Kenya greatly influenced Coulter's decision to participate in triathlons. Exercising in Kenya was, "I don't want to say culturally unacceptable, but it was very, very strange to be running or doing anything. So I had no training for four months," she said. Upon returning to the United States, her body was rejuvenated from the break and her motivation skyrocketed. She decided to give triathlons a try. However, Coulter knew that "to pursue tennis and triathlons at the same time would mean that I was giving less than 100 percent for tennis and less than 100 percent for triathlons. That wasn't fair to my team, and it wasn't fair to me." She made a difficult decision and focused her attention on triathlons.
Coulter began training during the spring of her junior year. She wakes up early and practices two of the three events in a triathlon. Typically, she runs for an hour and bikes for an hour and a half, or swims 2500 yards and bikes for an hour. "I really hate following a set regimen that's marked by the hour, which some people do. I find it easier to see how my body feels," Coulter remarked. In addition to physical training, Coulter prepares herself by reading literature on how to train properly, not get injured and build endurance.
The training has already paid off. This past summer was Coulter's first triathlon season and she competed in five events. She was first in her age group or of women overall in four of the triathlons, including placing 64th of more than 1000 competitors in the USA Elite National Championship New York City Triathlon. In the fifth race, Coulter finished second in her age group. After these races, the athlete "was exhausted and felt like I was going to throw up, but I was on such a high because I finally had done what I had been fearing and imagining and wondering about doing for the past year and a half."
Coulter has mastered the art of a busy schedule. In spite of her demanding training, she has managed to achieve membership in the academic honor societies Phi Eta Sigma and Phi Beta Kappa. Furthermore, Colgate has nominated her to proceed in the next round of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.
"I think getting up early is the key. Honestly, it takes time management, which I've gotten from previous sports."
Coulter modestly says that training for triathlons is no different from being a varsity athlete. "It's just a different kind of balancing that's based on my own motivation. It's about knowing yourself."
The nature of the sport is also different from Coulter's past endeavors. It's competitive, but with herself. "The people are so wonderful. The atmosphere is just nothing I've ever seen before in athletics," she said.
This new environment is a large part of Coulter's attraction to the sport. "It's been incredibly rewarding and in a lot of ways it's a new type of freedom for me," she said. Colgate's athletic students offer her a constant source of support and many people with whom she can train. The scenic town of Hamilton provides inspiration for Coulter.
"I really could think of no better place to train than Hamilton," she said. "It's gorgeous around here.
You can just go for hours and get lost. It takes my breath away." Sarah Towers '03
Adam Ezra Olshansky '99
Much more than a cover man
When Adam Ezra Olshansky '99 was selected to speak at the Senior Day luncheon during his graduation weekend, he chose instead to perform his "Corn Song." It was only his second time playing his own music out in public, but it was a step towards sharing it with a wider audience.
Just three years later, the singer-songwriter has dropped his surname, hired a backup band, created a website (www.adamezra.com) and finds that his music career is gaining momentum. His music has been aired on MTV's The Real World, and in September, the Adam Ezra Group, which performs regularly in the Boston area, began a tour of New England colleges sponsored by the Nantucket Nectars juice company. Olshansky also came back to Colgate for a solo gig at The Barge Canal Coffee Company on September 18.
Having grown up listening to folk music as well as classic rock, Olshansky says his own music "has that folky twinge, the lyrical base, yet it's got a little more of a drive to it." He often draws from his travel experiences; in fact, he first truly learned to play the guitar while on a study abroad program in South Africa.
"I was a pretty terrible guitarist, but I took the guitar with me and I had it with me all of the time," he explained. "It became my way of ingesting all of the experiences and things I was thinking about."
"One of the things that inspired me to travel when I was at Colgate," Olshansky said, "was the homogeneity and the amazing privilege that everyone has. So before my senior year I went up to Canada and hired on as a farmhand, which is actually where I wrote that song that I did at graduation."
After graduating, he moved to Chicago, hoping to break into the music scene. It wasn't easy. "When I was just starting off, I would play once a week at this place called The Java Thai," he said. "It was always empty. I'd play for the waitress, Donna Marie. She still e-mails me every once in a while. I'd play for $15 and a free meal. The first time I went there I was so nervous to be playing, I forgot my mic stand and I ended up taping my mic to a broom handle."
While Olshansky said he doesn't usually write songs about specific events in his life, an exception would be a song that follows the axiom, "the worst of times can get translated into great songs." While in Chicago, he had put out his first CD of original music, self-titled Adam Ezra (Marquis Records). Based on hearing the CD, the owner of a popular bar hired Olshansky for a weekly gig -- but then within two weeks fired him for not playing enough cover tunes that his patrons would recognize.
"I went home and sulked for a few hours. And then I wrote `Cover Man,'" Olshansky said, chuckling. "It's one of our favorite songs to play out right now."
Over the summer, Olshansky took a break from writing and performing to volunteer for the relief effort in Kosovo, through the organization Balkan Sunflowers. He lived and worked in the southern city of Gjilan, with a group of Romas confined to a ghetto where he said the unemployment rate is nearly 100 percent, and violence, poverty and boredom are rampant.
"I did as much as I could to help out, from teaching English and guitar, to setting up multi-ethnic programming within the city, to creating a Roma population census database for the United Nations. I never would have guessed Professor Elgie's stats class would come in so handy!"
Olshansky said he went to Kosovo because although he's not making scads of money and his number one priority is to launch his music career, "a lot of times it feels a little selfish to me. It's good to take a break from yourself and get a glimpse of the hardships that most people in the world really have to deal with in their lives." And some day, when those experiences have soaked in, he'll write a song. RAC
Top of page
Table of contents
|<< Previous: Autumn Days||Next: Alumni Affairs >>|