Alumni Spotlight: Cary Davis-Leizerowski (Fels ‘11), Associate at Reed Smith

November 17, 2015

Describe your work now for Reed Smith.

I'm a second-year Associate in the Commercial Litigation Group. The core of my practice is litigating on behalf of individuals and businesses in disputes over contracts, warranties, product liability, racketeering, and insurance coverage. I have an extensive pro-bono practice for abused children and low-income persons.

Recently, I've been doing more work on regulatory issues concerning cybersecurity and data privacy. These fields are fast-developing and fast-changing. As a young Associate, it's exciting to be able to learn a new legal tenet every single day and even more so when I'm working in areas of the law that are still being developed.

How did Fels help you on your career path?

Fels was my first introduction to Penn, where I spent four years of grad school. I was inspired by the work ethic, kindness, and generosity of my peers and professors. I'm still in close touch with many of them, especially those in Philly.

I'm the Chairman of Philadelphia's 27th Ward - which encompasses all of Penn - and I first met my ward leader, a friend and mentor, at a Fels event. One of my favorite things to do in all of Philadelphia is walk my dog down Locust Walk and around the Fels Mansion. More than just my career, Fels continues to play a role in my life.

What was your favorite Fels course?

Former executive director David Thornburgh and Anuj Gupta's class on civic leadership. As soon as David informed us that, for the first lesson, we would read Robert Caro's "The Power Broker," I knew it would be a great class. I had just finished reading Caro's three-(now four) volume biography of Lyndon Johnson.

We studied great civic leaders and analyzed their practical methods and characteristics. The women and men we studied solved problems and built coalitions by thinking big, by playing the "long game," and by being tough. These people understood their allies, their adversaries, and themselves.

Recently, I read a good paraphrase of a Patton quotation: the aim of legislative politics is not to compromise your principles for your country—it's to get the other guy to compromise his principles for his country.

What's one piece of advice you'd offer to current Fels students? To prospective applicants?

A friend of mine is an adjunct professor for a big program at a local university. He makes his students write a lot even though sometimes it's just a page or two per assignment. I asked him how everything was going and he shook his head and said, "They can't write. They just can't write. I'm amazed." But he works very hard with his students to help them improve by marking up the papers and meeting one-on-one. These are really, really smart students with immense intellects and creativity. But what's it all worth if you can't communicate your great ideas?

My one humble piece of advice: spend time and effort improving your writing. People naturally hate having to think through complicated writing, so make sure you get all your great ideas heard by making your writing short and simple. And the same for prospective applicants – sell your relevant strengths and skills clearly. Revise your cover letter five separate times before even thinking about hitting the "send" button. Think about who reads the applications. Help them make the decision to admit you logical and easy.

You're all going to do great!

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Contact Information

Fels Institute of Government
University of Pennsylvania
3814 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Phone: (215) 898-2600
Fax: (215) 746-2829