Features

Alyson Korman – Pace University

Assistant General Counsel helps set ‘Pace’ for university’s growth

Alyson Korman has literally gone back to school in her legal career.

As assistant general counsel for Pace University, which has campuses in Lower Manhattan as well as in Westchester County north of New York City, Korman has been tasked with many legal roles. Most notable are her efforts in helping the university’s entrepreneurial center assist startup companies created by students and alumni and providing legal management for the university’s massive revitalization of its downtown campus.

Alyson Korman | Assistant General Counsel | Pace University

Alyson Korman | Assistant General Counsel | Pace University

While her work enables Korman to draw on her private practice experience while working with outside counsel from firms, including Quinn McCabe, it’s also given her a new perspective and appreciation for delivering higher education.

“I had no idea how much was involved in higher education law before I joined Pace,” Korman said. “When I was in college and law school, I never thought much about the administrative side.”

Giving startups a chance

What’s now Pace University was founded in 1906 as a one-room accounting school. It’s grown a bit since—its enrollment is more than 13,600 students, including more than 5,300 graduate students. The university currently offers 135 undergraduate and 89 graduate degree programs.

The Pace Entrepreneurship Studio is part of the university’s Lubin School of Business and is located on the Manhattan campus. It was founded in 2022 before Korman joined the university and offers support and resources and links students and alumni to investors. So far, 25 startup ventures have applied, and three have been accepted into the program.

Korman’s support for PES includes drafting agreements with corporate sponsors—which also involves working with Lubin School of Business leaders and university administrators as they reach memorandums of understanding.

She’s also helping establish the funding mechanisms for PES investors, and Korman says she needs to protect licensing and intellectual property that may be part of the startups and ensure any investments provide the equity for a company to grow.

“What I need to consider first and foremost is how any agreement advances the interests of our students,” Korman summarizes.

Pacing improvements

Korman is also helping with the university’s $255 million transformation of One Pace Plaza in Manhattan.

Work includes adding new classrooms and creative arts spaces on the lower floors of One Pace Plaza East, highlighted by a new 400-seat proscenium theater replacing the existing Schimmel Center and theaters with 230 and 99 seats. There will also be a new scene, a prop and paint shop, and a costume shop will be built.

Above those floors, Pace is also renovating and upgrading and adding 50 beds to the Maria’s Tower residence hall, which comprises the seventh through 16th floors of the building.

The reconstruction project also promotes sustainability by reducing carbon emissions and energy use by installing energy-efficient heat pumps for heating and cooling, upgrading air handler units to energy-efficient models, increasing the insulation, and adding LED lights with occupancy sensors. The One Pace Plaza renovations, scheduled to be completed in 2026, will also comply with New York City’s Local Law 97, which limits building carbon emissions.

Alyson Korman | Assistant General Counsel | Pace University

The work at One Pace Plaza East follows the construction of 15 Beekman, a 26-story mixed-use building completed in August that includes a residence hall offering suite-style housing and a dining hall. There’s also a state-of-the-art library and modernized classrooms, some of which are home to the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems.

Korman has provided edits to the construction agreements to Quinn McCabe, a firm serving as outside counsel on the One Pace Plaza East project. She says she hadn’t anticipated the additional demands of working around campus activities and ongoing classes—factors that affect construction agreements regarding timetables and the force majeure provisions needed to cover unexpected events or disruptions.

“We’re not just hoping to complete it for the administration’s benefit,” Korman says. “The timeframe affects students, especially with the new residence hall. We prioritize getting students into the building, onstage and completing their majors.”

A generalist at heart

Born and raised in the Westchester County city of New Rochelle, the recently married Korman is fully enjoying becoming a New York City resident—she and her husband had just moved into their new apartment when she chatted with Vanguard in September.

She recalls being told by her parents and teachers that she’d grow up to become a lawyer—and rolling her eyes when they said so. Still, she earned her bachelor’s degree in government from Cornell University in 2014 as she realized her writing and critical thinking skills, as well as the studies she enjoyed, pointed at continuing to law school.

“It wasn’t until law school that I truly realized how valuable and dynamic a law degree can be,” Korman says.

She earned her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2017 after serving as a law clerk in the office of the general counsel for the New York City Department of Education. After graduating, she joined the firm of Weil Gotshal and Manges, where she’d previously served as a summer associate.

Before joining Pace University, Korman served as associate counsel at the Met Council, a nonprofit that, according to its website, “provides social services to aid, sustain, and empower poor and near-poor New Yorkers,” from May 2021 to October 2022.

When Korman began considering leaving private practice for an in-house role, she was concerned she could still be pigeonholed into a particular practice area.

That certainly hasn’t occurred at Pace.

“I worked on a broad range of complex commercial cases in various sectors, which provided me with a strong foundation for the rest of my legal career,” Korman says. “I love being a generalist and becoming an expert on what comes across my desk.”

View this feature in the Vanguard Fall III 2023 Edition here.

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