Seton Hall Law Families: The Connors Share Four Decades of Seton Hall Law Experiences
Seton Hall Law family generations provide a timeline of where Seton Hall Law has been to what Seton Hall Law has become, and what it will continue to achieve. What Seton Hall Law has become is a national attraction with a reputation of producing lawyers who are ready to make their mark in today’s diverse legal landscape.
Richard “Trip” Connors, III ’22 has grown up surrounded by Seton Hall Law family members. His mother, Susan Fetten Connors ’88, is a partner at the firm of Nagel Rice. She is an accomplished litigator specializing in medical malpractice and personal injury resulting from professional negligence. She also graduated cum laude from Seton Hall University receiving her B.A. in political science in 1985. His father, Richard F. Connors, Jr. ’88, is a partner in the law firm of Tompkins, McGuire, Wachenfeld & Barry. He is a civil trial lawyer with experience representing individuals, businesses and public companies in personal injury and property damage cases. Defending clients in professional malpractice claims and employers in employment discrimination cases are also among his specialties. Trip’s grandfather, the late Honorable Richard F. Connors, Sr. ’56, served as a Judge of the Superior Court. Trip is blazing his own path at Seton Hall Law. He is preparing to write his first piece as an Associate Editor of the Seton Hall Law Review. This past summer he interned with the Office of the Federal Public Defender and now that classes are in session, he is a Research Assistant to Professor Margaret Lewis.
The family has such a unique and personal connection to Seton Hall Law. With almost four decades of Seton Hall Law experiences, Trip and his parents speak about the similarities and differences within that span, the importance of camaraderie, and the differentiating culture that defines Seton Hall Law.
Seton Hall Law underwent a major physical change in the period after Sue and Rich graduated. They note, “Our law school experience seems very different from Trip’s from a structural standpoint, in terms of the beautiful building that now houses the law school. For example, when we attended from 1985-1988, our classrooms were attached to a temporary trailer facility that also housed the cafeteria, student meeting spaces, and additional classrooms. The classrooms were “lecture” style but not nearly as modern and technologically advanced as Seton Hall Law for today’s students. We are amazed at the transformation.”
While the physical building may have changed, the focus on students has not. “At Seton Hall Law, you never feel like just another number, or just another statistic—you are constantly made to feel like you matter in the grand scheme of things,” notes Trip. He recalls the day he first visited the Newark campus. “As I walked up the ramp to the library, I ran into Dean Boozang. Without hesitation, she invited me into her office, completely unprompted, to discuss the school and my aspirations. At that moment, I knew I would be attending Seton Hall Law that upcoming fall.” This story captures the mantra of Seton Hall Law – One Student at a Time. It is this similar attention to student focus that also marked Sue and Rich’s time. They wholeheartedly agree that students were guided toward impactful careers. This guidance came from the high quality of the professors. Many happen to still be teaching today, such as Professors Ambrosio, Denbeaux, Franzese, McLaughlin and Sullivan. Trip says, “Of my parents’ generation, Professor Denis McLaughlin and Professor Paula Franzese continue to amaze me and inspire me every day.”
Camaraderie is a hallmark of this Seton Hall Law community. As close as the bonds of this community are, the bonds of friendship formed through law school are just as tight. Rich and Sue look back fondly on meeting with friends in the library to collaborate for clinics, study groups and to exchange ideas about events and assignments. “Another critical component of the Seton Hall Law social network was spending late afternoons and evenings at the Irish American Law Students Association (IALSA) socials,” remarked the couple. Parents Sue and Rich were also involved in the Juvenile Justice Clinic and moot court competitions. Trip is following in their footsteps as he is a member of the Interscholastic Moot Court Board and participated in the Ronald J. Riccio Moot Court Competition, in addition to serving on the Law Review. Trip knows it is tough to balance both studying and socializing. However, he remarks, “The administration, as well as the student body, recognizes that law school is what you decide to make of it, and that includes the opportunity to make friends and form meaningful relationships.” While their son is still forming his lifelong connections, Rich and Sue comment, “We now rarely enter a courtroom anywhere in NJ, either in the State of Federal courts, without meeting a fellow Seton Hall Law graduate.”
The skills and legal acumen they each have gained at Seton Hall Law are the foundation of their tenures and a hallmark of the institution, but it is the culture of the law school that truly impacts this mother, father and son. Mother and father remark, “From our perspective, Seton Hall Law offered an ethical and moral foundation to our careers in law, both on the plaintiffs’ side (Sue) and for the defense (Rich) in private practice, together with lifelong friendships and the ability to create and nurture positive change in the community.” Trip is still charting his path, but frames it this way. “To me, Seton Hall Law means family. In every sense, Seton Hall Law works to better its students by providing clear direction and constant support. The atmosphere is a perfect balance between competitive and cooperative. We are encouraged to push each other and, in turn, push ourselves. In doing so, the school—either directly or indirectly—creates an environment conducive to camaraderie and solidarity.” The culture of ethics, support, encouragement and morality are not just cultural values of Seton Hall Law School, but are values that characterize the Connors family.
Trip provides a perfect conclusion. “Seton Hall University has been a connecting cornerstone in my family for generations. So, from a very early age, my understanding of the New Jersey legal community was that it was, and continues to be, a close-knit community of honorable, intelligent, and loyal men and women.”