Gaining Career Insight from the Nova Network
When David Rossman ’23 arrived at Villanova Law directly from completing his undergraduate degree at Fordham University, he had no preconceived notions about what area of the law might interest him most. “I knew Villanova Law would give me different opportunities to explore possibilities, with easy access to big cities offering lots of choices for markets and career options,” he said.
During the spring semester of his first year, Rossman took a required course on property and found himself drawn to real estate law. That summer, he worked as a legal intern with UGI Corporation/AmeriGas, where he dealt with multiple real estate-related issues. He enjoyed the work and decided he wanted to explore this budding interest further as a second-year student.
For the fall semester 2021, Rossman landed an externship with Alterra Property Group, a real estate development firm in Philadelphia. This afforded him the opportunity to work closely with Jeff Pustizzi ’02 VSB, ’05 JD, ’09 MBA, co-founding partner and general counsel, on a range of high-value commercial real estate transactions. Pustizzi, a proud alum, routinely offers externship opportunities to Villanova Law students.
“Mostly we were dealing with companies leasing large industrial properties, such as outdoor storage yards, large fields and parking lots,” Rossman said. “It was so beneficial for me to be involved in the whole process, from the beginning stages of transactions and due diligence all the way through to drafting and editing the closing documents. I could see the documents I worked on go directly to help consummate multimillion-dollar transactions.”
Rossman appreciated how Pustizzi showed him the importance of paying close attention to every single detail in a contract. “I got to see all of the tiny tweaks Jeff would make that a non-attorney might not even notice, but that could really help prevent issues down the road. People sometimes view attorneys as people who only step in when there are problems—crime, divorce, medical malpractice—but one major role of an attorney is to prevent things from going wrong. Real estate is a perfect example of that.”
What made the experience even more meaningful was going directly from his externship to his evening course, Real Estate Transactions. This course was taught by another Villanova Law alum, Ellen Pulver Flatt ’92, general counsel for Oliver Tyrone Pulver Corporation, a local commercial real estate development firm. “My externship bolstered what I did in class, and what I did in class reinforced what I did in the office,” Rossman said. “My advice to anyone would be if you have a practice area you are interested in, try to take a class in that subject at the same time you’re doing an externship. You can get an academic perspective and real-world perspective at the same time.” Rossman also took Homeowner Association and Condominium Ownership Law during the fall semester, which exposed him other aspects of real estate law.
In the summer of 2022, he worked at the Columbus office of Dinsmore & Shohl LLP, Ohio’s largest law firm, where hopes to spend some time working with the real estate group. “The people I interviewed with at the firm really liked my real estate focus,” he said. “I definitely see this as an area of the law where I’d like to work one day. It’s such an interesting space, and my courses, externships and contacts with alumni helped define my direction.”