May 21, 2019

Photo courtesy of Jay Mallin

CUA Law alumnus, Piotr Gajewski '99, had a successful career in music before he decided to apply to law school. Today, he is the Music Director & Conductor of the National Philharmonic, in residence at the Music Center at Strathmore outside Washington, D.C. He is widely credited with building the Philharmonic into one of the Washington metropolitan area's most respected ensembles. Interview with Gajewski: Why did you decide to attend CUA Law?
At the time, I was on CUA faculty at the Rome School of Music (I conducted the orchestra). It was at that time that the then-new law school building opened and I peeked inside. I immediately took a liking to it and thought: "this would be a nice place to hang out." My highest degree then was an MM (Master of Music). Coming from a family of Ph.D.s, that just felt inadequate. I investigated and found that, because of my position with the school, I could get a significant part of my tuition waived. And then, it just became irresistible. I applied, and, after getting accepted, put one foot in front of the other, and after four years (just after I had turned 40) had a J.D.!
Has your law degree helped in your current profession?
That is a big "Yes!" Above all else, a law school education teaches disciplined thinking and I find that it helps me in everything I do, both professionally and otherwise.

How did your career take a direction outside of traditional law jobs?
When I got my law degree, I already had a very successful career as a music professional (my principal position continues as Music Director & Conductor of the National Philharmonic at The Music Center at Strathmore). I never really intended to enter the legal profession, but I did take a few side trips - a notable one: a four-year stint on the Rockville, Maryland City Council, where, of course, a law education was quite useful! Do you still practice law or engage in pro bono? After getting the J.D., I did pass both the Virginia and Maryland State Bars - still with no intention of ever practicing. But this led me to involvement in a number of projects, ranging from a major medical malpractice case, to a few entertainment law disputes, to consulting on not-for-profit legislation in Poland (on a USAID contract). I even made a (pro-bono) court appearance in Maryland as trial attorney in a family law dispute, winning sole child custody for a dad! Mostly, I continue to serve as a sounding board for friends and family when they need some legal guidance, and try to point them in the right direction.
Click here to read more about Gajewski.