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Did you ever think to yourself, “I’m working too hard, why am I doing this?” So did Kahlia Fisher, but she did something about it. “I remember once working 18 hours straight, and realizing that it was Thanksgiving and I’m still at work,” said Fisher, who recently left her law firm to become an attorney for the New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA). “This was not for me. I work hard, but I want to play hard, too.” With two months’ service time, Fisher is now the most recent young lawyer hired by Stephen M. Aronson, the attorney recruitment coordinator for the HRA. During the interview process, Fisher told Aronson, “I was not too thrilled” about life in private law. And Fisher, 29, a graduate of Pace University School of Law, now plays hard, too. She recently enrolled in a martial arts class. Never mind about the substantial cut in pay she took when she signed with the HRA, where annual salaries for new hires range from $41,419 to $56,244. Having time for personal pursuits, family and friends is the number one selling point Aronson uses when hunting down legal talent for the HRA, “which is probably the world’s largest social service agency,” he said. Selling point number two requires an altruistic job seeker. “What I’m offering is a viable alternative to getting rich,” he wryly acknowledged. “What I’m looking for is people who have a calling. I want people who want to make a difference in this city.” Opportunities for HRA lawyers heeding the call are threefold: Family and Adult Services Special Litigation and Counseling Unit (SLCU). Attorneys work on Article 78 proceedings and cases involving Medicaid, home care and food stamps in the supreme, civil and family courts, as well as the State Office of Administrative Hearings. Protective Services for Adults (PSA). Here, attorneys assist in protecting physically and mentally impaired adults in such matters as guardian ad litems to prevent unwarranted evictions, and applications under Article 81 of the Mental Hygiene Law for guardian appointments. The Legal Counsel Unit (LCU). Attorneys provide in-house opinions and counseling in matters including basic assistance and welfare reform initiatives. CAREER CHOICES Aronson himself has made some interesting career choices. He was a full-time actor in New York from 1990-94, and a part-time actor in Washington, D.C., from 1977-87. In Washington, he augmented his artistic life with staff lawyer jobs at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, and the Legal Services Corporation. “Funny enough, my last movie part was in ‘City Hall.’ I had some good scenes with Danny Aiello and Al Pacino,” said Aronson, 54, a graduate of South Texas College of Law in Houston. “Now here I am working for City Hall,” Aronson said. “I enjoyed my acting years,” he said. Among his roles: the judge who sentenced Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to the electric chair in the film “Citizen Cohn”; a murderer on the television show “America’s Most Wanted”; and bit parts on “Another World,” the TV soap opera. “But I thought I needed something more stable as I got older.” Fisher is not the only attorney Aronson has plucked from hectic positions at private firms. “I was feeling overwhelmed in a general law office,” said Theoni Kosefas, who has been an HRA litigator in guardianship and eviction matters for the past 14 months. “I was doing civil litigation, bankruptcy, matrimony — but I wasn’t becoming expert in any one field. Here, I’m getting a really good grasp of mental hygiene law. “Also, I just always wanted to get into public sector law,” said Kosefas, 31, a graduate of the CUNY School of Law at Queens College. “I feel like I’m accomplishing something now. I took a financial loss, but [this HRA job] has given me more mental stability.” Kosefas came to the city agency by way of encouragement from Thomas Catapano, 32, a four-year veteran HRA lawyer. “We were in a guardianship proceeding together in Queens County, and for some reason I told her we [the HRA] were always looking for attorneys,” Catapano said of his new colleague. “So after the case, one day she called out of the blue, and sent me her r�sum�. I sent it along, and the rest is history.” As for Catapano, a graduate of Hofstra University School of Law, job dissatisfaction eventually outweighed a brisk salary at a small private firm. “I was doing collections and commercial litigations,” he said. “No complaints, but the work I’m doing now is much more emotionally satisfying.” As a Level 2 HRA staff attorney, Catapano files guardianship applications in supreme court and motions for protective services clients in housing court. He also consults with PSA caseworkers and the police department. “I find the judges appreciate what we do. They don’t always agree with us, but they appreciate our job,” said Catapano. “It’s a whole lot different than going to court to collect money for some company.”

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