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Van McPherson, III, Esq.

SJC, South Jersey Industries
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Interview By: Amanda Moscillo, Esq.

Law Clerk to the Honorable Julio Mendez, A.J.S.C.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Van L. McPherson, III, Esq. I volunteered to conduct this interview because many people attest to Van’s character, mentoring skills, and collegiality. When speaking to my coworkers about my interview with Van, as soon as I mentioned his name, my coworkers interrupted me to express their appreciation for Van’s amazing personality and work ethic. Van currently serves as Corporate Counsel for South Jersey Industries and a Trustee of the Atlantic County Bar Association. Thank you, Van, for sharing your experiences and advice with young lawyers and readers of the #LOAC!


Before I conducted my interview, I asked a few of Van’s former colleagues to describe what it was like working with Van. Alexander McLavish, Esq., Law Clerk to the Honorable Joseph L. Marczyk, P.J.Cv., worked with Van at South Jersey Industries and stated:


“Van McPherson is a great guy! Right around the time I was starting my internship at South Jersey Gas, Van started in his position as in-house counsel. Van is an extremely hard working and well-respected attorney who always made the time to talk with and give advice to the Legal Interns. Van was instrumental in providing me insight on the value of a clerkship and helping me navigate the legal landscape in Atlantic County. I can’t say enough great things about Van, he is a model member of the Bar and an all-around a great person.”


Alexandria Nikolinos, Esq., Law Clerk to the Honorable Andrew B. Altenburg, Jr., U.S.B.J., also worked with Van at South Jersey Industries and stated:


“I had the privilege of working at Van’s company during law school and witnessing first-hand his diligence, passion, and selflessness. People were constantly stopping in Van’s office for advice. He made time for everyone, even if it meant staying late to finish his own work. Thank you for sharing your experiences and advice, Van.”


Are you originally from Atlantic County?

Yes, I am originally from Egg Harbor Township.


Where did you go for your undergraduate degree?

The University of Connecticut.


Where did you go to law school?

St. John’s University in Queens, New York.


Why did you decide to go to law school?

I wanted to be a lawyer since I was a kid. I was the law and order type of person, but now I do not want to do litigation.


Did you clerk after law school?

Yes, I clerked for the Judge Jackson when he was the Presiding Family Judge, however it was not right out of law school.


What is a brief overview of your legal career thus far?

I began working for Parker McCay right after my clerkship and then went to South Jersey Industries four years later, which is where I am right now.


What is your current position?

I am SJG at South Jersey Industries.


What was your area of focus while you were at Parker McCay?

Municipal government and construction.


What do you enjoy about being corporate counsel opposed to an attorney at a firm?

I enjoy not dealing with billable hours. Serving as corporate counsel allows me to do more legal work, without worrying about the billable hours. I do miss being around lawyers all the time, though.


What has been your most enjoyable experience with the ACBA?

Getting to know other colleagues in the area in a relaxed setting.


What case or challenge have you faced that helped shape the kind of lawyer you wanted to become?

My supervising partner at Parker McCay has been practicing for 30 years. I had to help pilot two things that he had never seen: an election petition issue that was trying to change the form of government, and a special election to change the city’s code. The petitioner wanted to change from the current town council back to the old school form of government and to plan a special election. I found that dealing with these new and novel issues helped shape and challenge me.


Did you volunteer in college or law school?

Yes, I was the state board chairman of the Connecticut Public Interest Research Group. In that role, I coordinated the 2006 New Voters Campaign that increases student voter registration and turnout over 700% from the previous midterm election. The 2006 Congressional Race in District 2 (UConn’s District) was the closest in the nation, electing Democratic challenger Joe Courtney by 83 votes. I also served as the national PIRG spokesman addressing Congress in support of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007. I testified before the U.S. Department of Education during their administrative rulemaking process. Introduced by Senator Ted Kennedy, I was invited to attend the bill enrollment ceremony with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Kennedy, Rep. George Miller, and Rep. Courtney. This legislation lowered student loan interest rates by 50%, increased Pell grant allowance, and allowed loan forgiveness.


Do you currently volunteer?

Yes, I volunteer at my church, which is the Faith Baptist Church in Pleasantville. I am currently a trustee there as well. I have been a member of the church since I was six years old and now I enjoy the opportunity to mentor the children who attend.


What advice would you give young lawyers or students who want to pursue a legal education?

I would tell aspiring lawyers to go to law school where you want to practice because it is much easier to build connections that way. I would tell young attorneys to be patient and work well. Also, make sure you network well; you should be out and about. Unlike other professions, lawyers must be out in the community to truly be successful. When you first become an attorney, you do not know what you don’t know. By networking, you can figure out exactly what you want to do or, more importantly, what you do not want to do. Along those lines, I would encourage young lawyers to find a good mentor. I’ve had the good fortune of having great mentors, both on the bench and in the bar, including all of my former employers. Their advice has been crucial to me in arriving to this point in my career and I’m truly grateful. Also, I would tell Law Clerks that the Clerkship goes super-fast. Clerking is still my favorite legal job. Learn as much as you can.


What do you like to do for fun?

I enjoy going to hip hop concerts and I enjoyed going fishing with my friend until he sold his boat.

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