“An Orange Family”


2021 Law School Graduation: Lenore Cole (Lisa’s mom, Vinny’s wife), Vinny Cole, Joey Cole (brother), Lisa Cole, Chris Cole (twin), and Josephine Ymer (grandmother).
2021 Law School Graduation: Lenore Cole (Lisa’s 
mom,Vinny’s wife), Vinny Cole, Joey Cole (brother), 
Lisa Cole, Chris Cole (twin), and Josephine 
Ymer (grandmother).

In the first few days of law school, Lisa J. Cole L’21, G’21 entered her torts class knowing good and well that 40 years before her father had completed the same course with the exact same professor—Peter Bell, his first course teaching her father and one of his last teaching her.

“He pulled me aside after to say he remembered my dad—Vincent J. “Vinny” Cole L’81,” Lisa recalls. He even had a seating chart from that year. “He showed me exactly where my dad used to sit. It was special that we had that continuity four decades later.”

But Lisa didn’t always know she wanted to be a lawyer. “I think because my dad was a lawyer, I grew up thinking I wanted to do something totally different.” But while studying business at Babson College, a required business law course shifted her mindset. “This was when I was first exposed to business law, and it piqued my interest.” 

Next, Lisa completed a summer internship at Cerberus, a private equity firm, where her work straddled the border of business and law. “I became really interested in the legal side of it. That’s when I decided on law.”

Before her final year of undergrad, Lisa told her father she wanted to apply to law school. Needless to say, the former Board of Advisors member hoped for Syracuse. “Obviously, she was free to go wherever she wanted, and she had choices,” Vinny recalls. “I was just absolutely thrilled when she decided to go to Syracuse.”

For Vinny, his passion to study law was motivated by two things: Perry Mason and a prominent lawyer working in his Pennsylvania town who had graduated from the College of Law. “He’s long since deceased—Mike DeSisti L’41—but all three of his daughters attended Syracuse University. There’s a long heritage of connection with Syracuse University.”

Cole Family Connection

As a family, visits to Syracuse were frequent because of a long history with Syracuse. Vinny not only graduated from the College of Law but attended Syracuse University as an undergraduate. His son, Joey Cole, also attended SU for computer science, graduating in 2019. Vinny’s cousin, Janine Stover Yates, was a few years ahead of Vinny at SU and his goddaughter, Sarah Skerpon, attended as well.

“We used to go back frequently for homecomings and various events,” Vinny says. “We’ve maintained that connection with the school and lasting friendships.”

“We’re an Orange family,” adds Lisa, describing the many times she’s cheered on SU in a big, crazy orange wig holding a pair of metallic pom poms. “I grew up coming to campus a lot as a kid. I remember seeing the school and meeting all of the lifelong friends that my dad had made.” 

She remembers feeling a real sense of community at Syracuse. “It was really special to follow [in my father’s footsteps]—albeit quite a few years later than my dad —at the law school as well.”

Staying Connected & Helping Students

In 2014, the family dedicated two vitally important suites to the school as Dineen Hall opened: the Lenore & Vincent J. Cole Admissions & Financial Aid Suite and the Career Services Suite.

“My theory was to help them get in and then make sure they get out successfully into their professional careers,” said Vinny of his reasons for making gifts in support of the two offices. 

“My theory was to help them get in and then make sure they get

out successfully into their professional careers.”

Vincent J. Cole L’81

Vinny says he’s been very fortunate over his career and has always felt it important to give back, “not just financially, but also of time and effort.” In 2004, he joined the school’s Board of Advisors and stayed on for 12 years. “Everyone is trying very, very hard to advance the law school’s mission and improve its reputation,” Vinny notes.

Being fresh out of school, Lisa has yet to make a mark through financial contributions to the College, but she follows her dad’s example of giving one’s time. She helps coach the advocacy Honor Society trial teams and continues her work with the Syracuse Law Review. “Even though I’ve graduated, I think it’s important to still stay connected and help students,” said Lisa, who notes she often is contacted by students through LinkedIn and is happy to jump on a Zoom call to answer questions on the career search process as well as the J.D./M.B.A. joint degree. “Serving as a mentor is another valuable way to give back.”

While Lisa says her father has provided a lifetime of advice when it came to law school and now her career, he advised her to work hard, do her best and explore. “He’d say, as many have, ‘once you find something that you love if you can make a career out of it, you’ll never work a day in your life.’”

Vinny offers much the same advice to law students he meets: Keep an open mind and try everything. 

“Hopefully, you’ll find passion, and that passion will guide you to do what you like in life.”

“I think when you start in the legal profession, you need to try as many and as diverse opportunities as you can because no one coming out of law school really has a clue what they want to do,” he adds. “Until you get in there and do it, you really don’t know.”

Compare & Contrast

Homecoming Weekend: Vinny Cole, Joey Cole, Lisa Cole, and Lenore Cole (Vinny’s wife).
Homecoming Weekend: Vinny Cole, Joey Cole, 
Lisa Cole, and Lenore Cole (Vinny’s wife).

In Vinny’s final year with a job offer already in hand, he says his final months were quite social, with many hours spent at Varsity Pizza and Faegan’s Pub. “I kicked back a little bit and enjoyed my year, but unfortunately for Lisa wrapping up during the COVID-19 pandemic, she was socially distant from everyone and didn’t have that same luxury.”

“I’ve made an appearance or two at both Faegan’s and Varsity,” Lisa says with a laugh. “But yes, for me, a lot of my law school experience was virtual because of COVID.” The pandemic impacted almost half of her time in law school, but there were still highlights during her law school experience, such as participating in Advocacy Honor Society trials, which provided her invaluable mentorship from fellow students and coaches and gave her exposure she could not have gotten in the classroom. 

“A highlight of my law school experience was when my trial team got to travel to Washington, D.C. to compete in the Tournament of Champions — we finished as semifinalists.” Lisa and her team went on to compete in the National Trial Competition, where her team won Regionals but could not compete in Nationals due to COVID. 

Now as the ink is still drying on her diploma, Lisa has passed the bar and started her first job at Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP in New York City. She’s opted to work in-person four days a week and remotely one. 

“It’s been very, very busy,” she observes. “But a lot of fun.” She’s found that her J.D./M.B.A. joint degree provides a leg up amongst her peers, many of who attended top-ranked law schools. “It’s proved advantageous because a lot of the work that I do now is corporate law,” she says. “The J.D./M.B.A. curriculum —particularly the finance courses—has given me an early understanding of the work that I do and what is important to our clients.” 

Similarly, her father, who also began at Cahill and later moved on to Lexmark International, started in the field doing both litigation and corporate work.

“Utilizing my vague memory, my first year out of law school was exciting as hell,” Vinny recalls. “It was very intense, but so was law school. I enjoyed working long hours, but what I was most thrilled by in my first year, is how well I thought Syracuse prepared me to participate in that work environment.” 

He says Syracuse graduates should not be intimidated as they move into a career and face colleagues who may have attended Ivy League schools. “I feel Syracuse prepared me well,” he said, stressing he competed perfectly on par with others and felt adequately prepared. “And not just theoretical preparation, but also a good, practical, common-sense level of training.”

Feeling thoroughly prepared from her time at Syracuse Law, Lisa is now embarking on a new chapter of her life as an attorney, following in her father’s footsteps in proud Syracuse Orange fashion.