Journalist turns lawyer to help people with their final plans
“How do you eat an entire airplane?” Blaise Hill ’15 asked.
“One bite at a time.”
Referencing the late French entertainer Michel Lolito—who is perhaps better known as the man who ate an entire airplane (bit by bit over the course of two years), Hill explained that is how he approaches any major life change.
“Well, OK maybe we all can’t eat an airplane, but we can accomplish what might be, at first, impossible to fathom,” he said.
It takes a bit of planning and deconstructing and, of course, the willingness to take that first small step.
For Hill, that meant hopping onto Amazon.com and buying an LSAT prep book. If he wanted to change careers from journalism to law, he would first have to take the exam needed to apply to law school.
At the time in 2016, he was working as the technical director at WPEC CBS-12 in West Palm Beach, Fla., and he wasn’t finding the career as fulfilling as he anticipated when he entered the field as a fresh graduate of the journalism program.
Until that point, he had loved his experiences in journalism and broadcasting.
Getting a Taste
When he arrived at SUNY Oswego in fall 2011, Hill threw himself into all that the college had to offer.
“Within the first month, my Laker Leader whom I met during orientation had invited me onto his political show on WTOP and there I was on TV,” he said. “Then my roommate and I started our own show in our first semester, and then live sports picked up and I was calling the women’s basketball games. All of this happened within like the first two months of arriving on campus.”
Hill said he was hooked.
“Every semester just got better and better because you feel more entrenched in this community,” he said. “You meet more people, you make more friends, you have more opportunities, you’re continuing your education. And I can’t speak to any of the other programs, but the broadcasting and journalism professors are, hands down, some of the best human beings I’ve met in my life. And then they’re also phenomenal educators.”
Digesting the First Bite
After graduating, he accepted a position as the technical director at WRGB CBS-6 in Albany, N.Y. His good friends, journalism and cinema and screen studies major Joe Manganiello ’14 and broadcasting and mass communication major Sebastian Edmond ’14, both pursued similar careers in sports journalism.
Edmond is now the director/technical director for studio programming at the Big Ten Network, where he oversees a show’s rundown in a hybrid traditional/automated setting and leading a studio crew through the various daily broadcast obligations of the network.
“Blaise and I did work together at WRGB CBS6 Albany, where we were both on the morning news shift,” Edmond said. “Blaise and I only had one and a half years of overlap at Oswego and only worked together for about 5 months in Albany. Yet, he became one of my best friends in the world in large part due to a similar outlook on life, a strong desire to achieve the highest professional successes available to us, a mutual love of music and sports, and a willingness to set aside time for us to catch up no matter where we were geographically located or what we had going on in our lives. When he told me he was pivoting to become a lawyer, I couldn’t have been happier for him.”
Manganiello was working as a sports writer for the Watertown (N.Y.) Daily Times when Blaise called him to discuss his decision to take the LSAT exam for law school.
“It blew my mind,” Manganiello said. “It felt like my life changed in that moment, too. Blaise explained how he could take what we learned at Oswego and combine it with what he’d learn at law school to be even more marketable. It changed how I thought about my own path.”
Hill said that he saw law school as a way back into sports.
“I don’t know what shifted in me,” Hill said. “I didn’t love the hours and working holidays and I wasn’t working in sports and I kind of missed being in school. So, I thought, ‘how can I get back into sports?’”
He recalled loving the Media Law class that his peers at Oswego told him he would hate, and he thought that law school could open up the door to becoming a sports agent.
So, rewind back, to prepping for the law school exam.
“I figured if I bombed the test, that would mean that law school wasn’t meant for me,” he said. “I did fine. So, then I applied to law school. If I didn’t get accepted, well, then, that’s not the right path for me. And that’s just kind of how I made the change—step by step.”
Moving onto the Main Course
He enrolled at Syracuse University College of Law expecting to become a sports agent, but cognizant that a law degree opened up many other career possibilities. Meanwhile, Manganiello was rooming with Hill in Syracuse when he decided to also take the LSAT and apply to law school.
Manganiello sought out a strong program in sports law and enrolled in Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law, where he was a fellow at the university’s Jeffrey S. Moorad Center for the Study of Sports Law. Today, he is an account executive at the WNBA’s New York Liberty in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“I always looked up to Blaise, and when he talked about law school, I could see the potential in learning more about contracts and sports law,” Manganiello said. “He talked me through what to expect on the LSATs and that first year of law school.”
In Hill’s second semester of law school during a property law course, he said he had an epiphany.
“I remember sitting there and I just had this gut feeling like, ‘This is what I want to do with the rest of my life,’” he recalled. “And here I am now in my office in Bethesda, Maryland, working as a trusts and estates attorney less than five years later.”
Today, as a trusts and estates attorney with Pasternak & Fidis P.C., he helps his clients deal with a subject most people like to avoid in polite conversation—death. It’s the airplane we all have to eat–impossible as it may seem. He helps deconstruct it and make it more manageable.
His Oswego pals said this new career choice makes sense and plays to Blaise’s strengths – intelligence, compassion, kindness, loyalty and attentiveness.
“I want to help people through difficult times and help them be happy and achieve their goals,” Hill said. ‘So, that’s what trusts and estates work is. Let’s do what we can to make sure that when this eventual and inevitable thing happens, you’re prepared for that and your family is prepared for that. Let’s plan for this worst case scenario. We can sleep well at night knowing that everything will happen the way we want it to happen.”