New York Criminal Defense Attorney Enjoys Second Career
By Art Petrosemolo
Attorney Noah Lipman has worked both from behind the defense table in high-profile criminal trials and today from behind a desk as a high school teacher and university professor. Both jobs have been challenging but it’s the teaching, he says, that wins on personal fulfillment.
Lipman, who defended clients in many narcotics and murder trials in the 1980s and 1990s, modestly describes working with clients accused of some pretty bad stuff as interesting but stressful.
Now 12 years into his second career, Lipman is teaching at Long Branch High School and Monmouth University and is mentoring the next generation of professionals. The retired attorney, 56, looks forward to working with students daily – his days in the courtroom just a Google click of memories.
Lipman’s defense attorney career coincided with President Ronald Regan’s get tough on crime campaign with more police officers on the street and a goal of stopping organized gangs smuggling narcotics into major U.S. cities.
Born and raised in Manhattan, Lipman graduated from Stony Brook University. He received his law degree from Pace University and had worked for several high profile defense attorneys along the way on some important cases including Murray Cutler and Dave Segal. One of his mentors, Barry Slotnick, defended Bernard Goetz for shooting four young men who had tried to mug him on the New York subway on 1984. The case made international headlines.
At 25, Lipman opened his own firm on lower Broadway in 1985 and with the help of referrals and a wealth of new clients, many from Colombia, Jamaica or the Dominican Republic, arrested for alleged drug dealing, the firm grew and operates today as Lipman & Booth – one of New York’s premier criminal defense firms.
For years, Lipman toiled 16-hour days and spent 35 out of 52 weeks each year in court for trials or hearings. Clients referred new clients and, he says, “Many times I represented the same people for different crimes over several years.”
During his litigation career, Lipman spoke frequently to law students at his alma mater, and ran seminars at the New York Police Academy and for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). He began thinking about a second career in education and set 2009 as the year to make the switch. In anticipation of moving to the classroom, Lipman, who moved to Holmdel, found time to return to school to earn a master’s degree in history at Monmouth University.
At the start of the new millennium, the attorney-teacher says his practice started to change. “Defendants shied away from going to trial,” he explains, “and wanted to cooperate with federal and state prosecutors with the hope of lighter jail time. I was a litigator and wanted to litigate.”
So Lipman moved his retirement up to 2003 and things fell into place quickly. He taught part-time at Monmouth University and was recommended for a fulltime teaching position at Long Branch High School. “I was always interested in urban high school education,“ Lipman says, “I was a product of New York public schools and wanted to address the large achievement gap I knew existed there.”
He got a baptism of fire his first year in the classroom teaching six different classes in five rooms on two floors. He was the new guy! The second year Lipman was asked to teach an Advanced Placement (AP) history course. New to the education field, he wasn’t sure just what made an AP class so different. A summer seminar with the College Board was eye-opening and Lipman embraced the challenge.
For the past several years, he has taught AP classes exclusively raising the academic bar for students and coaxing work and performances out of them not usually seen from urban high school students. In some cases, he proudly explains, the pass rate for an AP course like U.S. history rose from three to 55 percent and his AP American government class has often exceeded 95 percent pass rate on the national exam. Lipman also continued to teach at Monmouth University and worked with the faculty and administration to develop dual courses where students could receive college credit for successful completion of their AP courses. Over the years, he has seen hundreds of his students go onto to four-year college careers, many with full scholarships.
Recognized for his teaching with numerous awards, Lipman takes great pride in being named one of The College Board’s top teachers nationally in 2010. The College Board had asked him to be a reader of AP exam essays which he does each year and he also serves as a College Board consultant giving seminars across the county on successful teaching methods for AP courses. He also has worked with the NY Federal Reserve Bank on their education advisory committee and was the 2015 Alfred Sloan award winner for teaching excellence in economic education by the Council for Economic Education.
Lipman’s students and colleagues sing his praises. Thomas Borgia who will graduate from The College of New Jersey this spring remembers Lipman at Long Branch. “His knowledge, passion and dedication for teaching was clear. His willingness to improve the class listening to student feedback set him apart and inspired us to exceed our own expectations.”
Monmouth University graduate Mariana Bonato who works with JP Morgan, had Lipman as a teacher both at LBHS and Monmouth University. She says, “I rearranged my schedule to make sure I could be in his Monmouth class. He’s truly an inspiration as a man who succeeded in life and now takes the time to invest in the next generation to do the same.”
Anne Gill, head teacher in the LBHS history department and a student of Lipman at Monmouth is now a teaching colleague. She sums it up best. “Noah has very high standards and the way he runs his college courses is no different than the expectations he holds of his high school students. He teaches three different AP level courses, and every student who takes his class is expected to produce the highest quality work, and using college level texts. It is this type of preparation that makes Noah such a great teacher.” She adds, “His high school classes are rigorous and challenging, but the students continue to enroll because of his dedication to their success.”
This article was first published on the Scene Page in the May 19-26, 2016 print edition of The Two River Times.
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