During her time at the University of New Haven, Paula-Marie Uscilla ’99 captained both the softball team and the soccer team. She now exercises that leadership talent in the world of corporate law, overseeing product liability and personal injury cases for Otis Elevator Company, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. in Hartford. As assistant counsel, Uscilla also monitors contract negotiations and other business functions for the firm’s Western Region, which covers 13 states, including Hawaii and Alaska.
“I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer,” says Uscilla, 35, who grew up in West Haven and now lives in Milford. “I enjoy the art of debate. Becoming a lawyer was a natural progression.”
At UNH, Uscilla earned a bachelor’s degree in management of sports industries. She chose that major because she wanted to learn about business practices and because she loved sports.
Uscilla earned her J.D. degree in 2002 from the Boston University School of Law. She was admitted to the bar that same year and began her career as an associate with Paul Hastings Law in Stamford. Two years later she moved to Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meager & Flom in Boston. She joined UTC in 2008 and transferred to Otis Elevator in 2010.
Uscilla doesn’t go into the courtroom. She manages outside counsel, functioning as a “captain” of various legal teams, helping to craft case strategy and oversee the trial or settlement process.
“We always try to resolve the case in a manner that reflects the issues in the case and protects our business interests,” she says.
Uscilla enjoys working at Otis and UTC because the lawyers there try to anticipate problems and find ways to prevent them. “The lawyers at UTC are really part of the full team at the company,” she says. “We’re not just there to put up a big stop sign and say ‘No, you can’t do this.’ We’re part of figuring out ways to do things without subjecting the company to unnecessary liability.
“The UTC companies are very responsible, and it feels good to work for companies that want to be responsible,” she adds. “I hope to have a long career with UTC.”
Studying business at UNH has helped her understand her clients, Uscilla says. The personal relationships she developed at UNH have helped shape her career as well.
“My coaches and the athletic director demanded excellence and integrity,” she recalls. “That’s something I’ve tried to carry over into my professional and personal growth as an adult.” She singles out Allen Sack, professor of sports management, as a faculty member who took a personal interest in her success.
Uscilla joined the UNH Alumni Board of Directors in 2012 and says she wants to help grow the University and build alumni support. “It’s important to me to be involved with helping the University produce successful alumni,” she says.
Posted Summer 2013