Laura Gasiorowski’s Eph Blurb

I have not registered to attend the reunion…yet. In case I do not attend, here is my blurb. After Williams, I attended NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts for my masters in art history. For several reasons (including Robert Rosenblum practically having an aneurysm over the idea that the school might hire my idol, Linda Nochlin), I decided maybe this was not a good fit. After a year off to rethink my career plans, I decided to attend Tulane Law School in New Orleans. Turned out to be the best decision I have ever made. New Orleans is beautiful, wild and bohemian, the food amazing, the music incredible and the living cheap. I will always remember with fondness the two dollar pitchers and five dollar a dozen oysters at this tacky bar up by the levee. Bored with classes, I got a part time position (unpaid) with a lawyer who was the Capital Crimes Supervisor for the New Orleans Public Defenders’ Office and who had two pending death penalty cases during my tenure there. Became fascinated, no, obsessed, with death penalty defense, and criminal defense in general. After graduation, a stint as a clerk for a criminal judge in New Jersey, and than back to New Orleans to work for yet another criminal trial attorney. My secretary (Miss Betty), my bosses, my co workers, my clients, the eccentric judges, and the cops I defended as legal counsel for the Police Assn. of New Orlelans (only in New Orleans could a criminal defense firm be legal counsel for a policeman’s association) could all have been characters in some great book, as yet unwritten. Among our clients were alleged New Orleans mafioso, The Gangsta Twins (a female rap duo), Juvenile and some of his coterie (rap musician, for those fond of other musical genres), Eddie Vedder (bar fight), and a lot of strippers. I acquired a crazy rat terrier, Belulah, whom I still own, despite my better judgment, and a great pit bull mix who was sweet but nevertheless kept anyone from ever breaking into my Napoleon street house simply by appearing in my window and barking.

I am not sure why, but after seven years of living in New Orleans, I decided to return to NYC. I began working with Frederick Cohn, a solo criminal defense practitioner in NYC. Four months after I arrived up North, my now husband, David Downie, also returned to New York from Singapore, where he had been working. It had been eight years since we last met in the NYC, right before I left for law school, and while we were both dating other people. (At the time I was dating my Williams boyfriend…sorry to blow the percentages on Williams grads who marry other Ephs.) I think that I was propelled back to NYC so that I could meet up with him again, because we knew within several months of dating that we were going to get married. It’s one of those cute stories that makes other people gag. We were engaged within a year and married in September 2000. Shortly before my wedding, our cosy little firm (Fred, me and a paralegal) were appointed to represent Mohammed Al-‘Owhali, one of the defendants in United States v. Bin Laden in the Southern District of New York. As one of the alleged bombers of the American Embassy in Nairobi, he was a capital defendant with three other co-defendants, all accused terrorists involved in that bombing and in the Al Qaeda conspiracy. This was before al-Qaeda became a household word. (In fact, the Puff Daddy, excuse me, P. Diddy, gun case got more press coverage at the time.) It was the case of a lifetime. Fascinating, impossibly hard, intellectually challenging, emotionally wrenching, and politically incorrect. The trial lasted almost five months and finally concluded with our client receiving life in prison. My son Jake, with whom I became pregnant halfway through the trial, was born in December 2001. Never thought I would ever quit working or become a “stay at home” mom, but then again, I had never known what it was to be a mother. I took a 9 month hiatus. I have to say that being a mother is a hundred times harder than being a lawyer, and I now look back on that time, even when I was working 14 hour days and weekends, as idyllic. We moved to the suburbs this past November, a fact with which I still must reconcile myself. Though I enjoy motherhood, I have recently returned to working, only part time, on discreet criminal and death penalty cases. For me, working is now a “break” that I really enjoy without the crushing demands full time employment would put on my family. I am pregnant again, expecting in October, and hoping for a sister for little Jake. I don’t think I could even have imagined how my life after Williams was going to turn out, given the expectations I had then, but that’s why looking back is so much fun.

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