Fear Not

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Financial tremors do not unsettle alumnus Steven Vincent ’83.

Steven Vincent is not afraid of change.

After more than 15 years as a successful lawyer for large investment banks, including Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs, Vincent decided eight years ago that it was time to shake things up. He became General Counsel, Chief Administrative Officer, and Chief Compliance Officer of Brigade Capital Management LLC, an SEC-registered investment advisor that manages over $16 billion of client assets. For Vincent, the transition has kept him professionally limber.

“I wanted to help build a relatively young asset management business, serving in the much broader roleas General Counsel than as a senior staff lawyer in a large investment bank,” he said. “Goldman Sachs is an incredibly challenging and interesting place to work, but this provided me with what I viewed as a special, entrepreneurial opportunity.”

Vincent joined Brigade just one year after the firm’s first full year of operation in 2007. It was not the most auspicious year for financial firms.

“2008 was quite a year for the industry,” he said. “We encountered challenges, but we overcame them and have been blessed with healthy growth ever since.”

Since that initially unnerving period during the global financial crisis, Brigade has expanded from approximately 20 employees to more than 100, with offices in New York, London, and Tokyo. Where the firm once managed $2 billion in client assets, it now oversees more than eight times that much.

“I am very proud of all my past and present professional associations,” said Vincent, who now wears the hat of Chief Legal Officer as well as Chief Operating Officer. “However, I find it particularly rewarding to be able to contribute to a firm like Brigade that has seen sustained growth since the turmoil of 2008.”

Vincent is well aware that all financial institutions confront uncertainty and risk, and he understands how the human element attempts to mitigate, and ideally take advantage of, these variables.

“You try to make reasonably informed and calculated decisions, but at some point you have to act. If success follows your action, you tell yourself that it’s largely due to you; if success does not follow, you tell yourself that it’s largely due to some external reason. It’s human nature to rationalize in this way.

“Success, however, is often tied to timing and, yes, even some luck. Certainly you have to be smart and competent in this business, but you can’t assume the opportunity will be there twice.”

“Success, however, is often tied to timing and, yes, even some luck. Certainly you have to be smart and competent in this business, but you can’t assume the opportunity will be there twice.”

Vincent understood the importance of opportunity even as a Fordham Law student; he treated his law school education as a once-in-lifetime venture. He is quick to enumerate the reasons he chose Fordham—“for the quality of education, sterling reputation, strong community, and committed alumni”—and eager to praise the Fordham Law faculty.

“Michael M. Martin, Joseph Perillo, Daniel Capra, Barry Hawk—to name a few—were outstanding teachers, and many were also caring mentors.”

Maria Marcus, Vincent’s moot court coach, reviewed with care and thoughtfulness his draft briefs and conducted what Vincent describes as endless practice rounds. Former professor Gerald McLaughlin also received special acknowledgement: “He was probably the best communicator of any professor I encountered as a student,” said Vincent. “He taught me Civil Procedure my first year and could make a complicated subject matter easy to understand. What a gift! Equally important, Gerry was a very accessible human being.” As a 3L, Vincent and a dozen of his classmates were invited to McLaughlin’s Brooklyn home for brunch.

In addition to receiving a legal education, Vincent found love at Fordham Law. “I met my wife [Nancy Tormey Vincent ’82], who was a year ahead of me, on my first day of classes on the steps of the old law school building.” While they didn’t start dating until after graduation, Vincent had always thought since that first meeting that he would end up marrying her.

He and Nancy remain close to their law school alma mater. A few years ago, they participated in the Business Law Practitioners Series sponsored by the School’s Corporate Law Center.

Of his involvement with the Center, Vincent says, “New York City is the epicenter of business. The Corporate Law Center organizes wonderful programs that take advantage of Fordham’s optimal location. Its programs are informative, thought provoking, educational, and helpful to current students. Sean Griffith and Ann Rakoff do an outstanding job overseeing the Center.”

Vincent also served for many years as a member of the Law School Advisory Committee, which supports the Law School’s fundraising initiatives and helps prepare students for careers of leadership and service. Vincent knows intimately the value of service, as all the schools he attended are Jesuit. “Even as a professional school, Fordham Law fosters the same themes of service and caring for the individual,” he said.

These same schools also helped Vincent learn the value of risks and rewards, a principle that has guided him throughout a career marked by moments of exhilarating change.

“I would rather fail and have tried, then look back and say, What if ?”

Photograph by Robert Essel

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