Old Lawyers Can Learn New Tricks

Ronald Rossi goes back to college in his 50s        

Published in 2008 Northern California Super Lawyers — August 2008

For Ronald Rossi, school is not just for 20-year-olds.

The founding partner of Rossi Hamerslough in San José completed his courses in U.S. history and turned in his thesis last spring about big-city mayors and how they adapted to New Deal politics. At 64, his pursuit of a master's degree, which began at San José State in 2001, was completed.

"I worked my butt off," Rossi says proudly. "I thought going back to school would just be, ‘Here I am, folks. Where do I sign?' But the professors gave me no kudos for who I thought I was, and the young kids I was in class with are sharp, interested and into it."

He says many of his classmates were high school history teachers half his age working to enhance their résumés. "It restores my faith in the educational system. The ones I've seen were very dedicated."

They pushed him and, eventually, accepted him. "I knew I had really made it when a young woman asked me to join a study group," Rossi says. "I called my wife and said, ‘I've made the big time!'"

Rossi says his partners—at work and at home—chided him about his regimented study habits, which he admits he wasn't known for as an undergrad or in law school. "They teased me that I was more worried about a final exam than I was about a trial," he says. "It's interesting how your psyche gets. I started out with two B's and after that it was all A's."

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