A successful lawyer for 43 years, Steven Gursky ’76 has found time to volunteer throughout his busy career, whether at a food pantry, providing pro-bono legal services, or as a board member for the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation.

But a recent change has given him time to focus on volunteering as more than a “sometimes thing.” As of 2022, Gursky, whose expertise includes real estate and intellectual property law, has “stepped back” from his role as partner at Olshan Frome Wolosky, instead choosing to work with the firm “on select matters and clients” in an of counsel position.

Gursky has decided to spend some of that newfound time mentoring pre-law students at his alma mater, Brooklyn College.

“I find it useful to [students] and incredibly rewarding to me,” Gursky says of the mentoring process, which he began at his other alma mater, Brooklyn Law School, and more recently expanded to Brooklyn College.

After attending a pre-law event at Brooklyn College’s Magner Career Center this past September, Gursky was paired with a small group of current students, with the expectation that he will have more mentorship opportunities as the year progresses. He wants to get the word out that he is here to help.

Gursky understands what it is like to be a college student wanting to become a lawyer, but without a clear path to get there. He grew up in Sheepshead Bay and Crown Heights in modest circumstances, working jobs from the age of 14. A bright student, he skipped 8th grade and started college at 17.

But while Brooklyn College may have been a clear choice, and one that would inspire in him deep gratitude for the education it provided, the next steps were less obvious.

Gursky had always wanted to go into law but without any in his immediate family and unaware of the existence of mentors, he had none “to ask the questions of.” Based on his experience, he wants to provide current students guidance from an experienced lawyer.

“The idea of grappling around in the dark and finding their way, like I did, is something I would rather have students not have to do.”

Pre-law student Fatoumata Soumahoro said she felt a kinship with Gursky because he is an alumnus. “He was in my place trying to figure things out, and I’m there right now,” she says. “So, it’s not like he’s just on the outside looking in but knows exactly what I am going through.”

Pam Brown-Laurenceau, the adviser for the Pre-Law Program at the Magner Center, calls Gursky “amazing.” He is, she says, “so down to earth . . . the students feel comfortable relating to him.”

Along with being approachable, Gursky brings to his mentorships noteworthy experience. He has worked on trademark cases with companies such as Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, Nike, and Adidas, representing some of the same companies in real estate work.

And then there is the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation in Washington, DC.

After representing the foundation pro-bono over an “intellectual property issue,” Gursky found himself invited to join the the “working board” that he says made the preparations for the building and opening of the memorial.

Both this experience, which he calls one of the highlights of his life, and mentoring “come from a sense of giving.” To Gursky, mentoring is important but more personal. “I’m helping students one at a time,” says Gursky, “And hopefully they end up paying it forward.”