Raised a Catholic and educated in Catholic schools, Todd M. Galante '86 as a young man thought he would become a priest. He wanted to devote his life to helping people and making a difference. While attending Seton Hall Prep, he took a course in law and realized that law, too, is a vocation where you can impact people's lives. Today, a shareholder at LeClairRyan, he is grateful to be at a firm and in a position where both are providing a "hand up" for others.
He recognizes and says, "Were it not for the many special people I met throughout my life who took the time to encourage, guide, mentor, inspire, lend a recommendation, offer a kind word, or open a door for me, my life would be much different." He continues, "A debt of gratitude and honor is surely due from me to each and every one of those very special folks who are far too numerous to mention individually. However, Seton Hall and my Seton Hall family are at the top of the list."
In an effort to "pay it forward" and help open doors for others, he and his wife, Alena, have contributed $50,000 to the Seton Hall Law Rising campaign to create the Todd M. Galante, Esq., Endowed Scholarship at Seton Hall Law. The son of a blue-collar family from Orange, Mr. Galante knows firsthand how challenging it can be to pay for a quality education. His mother and father (Jeannette and Joseph) scrimped and saved, and he contributed, too, to pay for his Seton Hall Prep education. He worked his way through college as an undergraduate at Rutgers University in Newark working at supermarkets, restaurants, a refuse hauling company, Budweiser, and The Stuffed Shirt. While at Seton Hall Law, he worked at the supermarket on weekends (to keep his health insurance and benefits while in school) and law firms (two or three days a week) to gain practical experience.
A leading bankruptcy/commercial litigation attorney, mediator, arbitrator and mentor, he has represented and been involved with diverse clients, people, and cases to say the least. He has handled matters in NJ and NY, but also elsewhere in the United States and abroad. His clients have included Fortune 500 companies, financial institutions, insurance companies, franchisees, franchisors, corporate officers, real estate investors, developers, automobile dealers, entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, decedents' estates, the elderly, and others.
When asked what he enjoys most about his practice, he says "The challenges the work brings and the chance to resolve problems. I learn something new everyday. Every situation and every case demands independent and fresh thinking."
He is particularly sentient about what he has accomplished in life and mindful of the many who are not as fortunate. "There are no guarantees in life and no lock step formula to ensure success," he says. "For every person who succeeds and fulfills his or her dreams, there are many more that do not. For those who have obtained a measure of success, I believe we are duty bound to help others."
Creating the Seton Hall Law scholarship, along with the scholarships he and his wife have funded at Rutgers and Seton Hall Prep, is a way for him and his family to recognize the people who helped him to succeed.
"Yes, I was focused, ambitious, and hard working," says Mr. Galante. "But for me, it was the people along the way who recognized my efforts, motivation, and drive and wanted to help that made the difference. My life would be very different had I not gone to Seton Hall Law and not had people who took an interest in me, opened doors, or provided encouragement."
Included among those people were U.S. District Court Judge John W. Bissell, whom he interned with as a student, and the late Judge Vincent J. Commisa, then Chief Bankruptcy Judge, whom he clerked for after earning his law degree in 1986. In 1987, he joined the firm of Clapp & Eisenberg, working with William S. Katchen and others. While at Clapp, he ran for and won a seat on the City Council in Orange. Three years later, he became Council President. He saw politics as another way to give back to his community and the city in which he grew up.
The timing, however, was not right for him to serve more than one term. As a law associate, he needed to focus on building his practice. In 1990, he joined McCarter & English, working with Theodore D. Moskowitz and others. On January 1, 1995, Mr. Galante joined his Seton Hall Law classmate and dear friend Karol Corbin Walker '86 at Robinson, St. John & Wayne where they have been practicing as partners ever since. The firm changed names over the years and merged with LeClairRyan in 2007.
LeClairRyan already has funded a scholarship at Seton Hall Law, but Mr. Galante says he also needed to make a personal gift.
"I certainly know what it's like to work hard and put yourself through school," he says. "I also know what its like to have had the good fortune to be the recipient of certain financial scholarships as well. Scholarships really make a difference. In the end, I believe that if you're in a position to give a worthy individual a hand up, a word of encouragement, advice, or a recommendation, or other assistance, you should do so. It made all the difference in my life."