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Eric Lobenfeld, class of 1971 and now an intellectual property litigation attorney and partner with law-firm giant Hogan & Hartson in New York, thrived on his work with WHRW, but credits his philosophy major with preparing him for his career.

When he was an undergraduate student at Binghamton in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Eric Lobenfeld says his world revolved around the radio station, WHRW, more than anything else, including school. But one of the benefits is that it expanded his experiences. “There was a Student Publications Board at the time and I was on it,” he says. “We decided what musical groups and plays would come to campus. We were able to get the Grateful Dead here. Everybody has lots of memories from that concert.”

The board brought in other performers and speaker as well, not just rock, but Ella Fitzgerald, James Taylor and a wide variety of acts. “I was especially gratified, because when I started in 1967, the homecoming band was the Turtles,” Lobenfeld says. “I felt ultimately vindicated when I had some involvement. We got Gloria Steinman to come to talk...it was really great to have a role in that.”

Lobenfeld also started a show on WHRW called Radio London, devoted exclusively to music by British rock bands. “I would buy records through the mail from England and get them before they were issued in the United States. A lot of famous rock artists like Cream and David Bowie  were played for the first time in Binghamton — and maybe New York — on WHRW.”

The Philosophy, Politics and Law program didn’t exist when Lobenfeld attended Binghamton. Calling himself “a regular old philosophy major,” Lobenfeld says a number of faculty still stand out in his mind. “My main guy is the faculty master of CIW -- Tony Preus,” he says. “I was very interested in Ancient Greek philosophy and that’s his specialty, so I had him for Plato and Aristotle and I even remember the course numbers -- 131 and Descartes 132, Esthetics 135. I told him the highlight of my academic career, not just limited to Harpur, was getting an A in his graduate Aristotle course. I’m still very proud of that. I needed special permission to take the course and worked hard for it.”

Currently an intellectual property litigation attorney, he only took one science course and no math courses while at Binghamton. Though every day of his life is spent dealing with pharmaceuticals, chemistry, computer hardware and software, he says majoring in philosophy really did influence his career. “Patents are all about words and language and the most important part of any patent case is persuading the judge that the patent means what you think it means, and that’s about words,” he says. “There are all sorts of concepts of language and analysis and meaning that you learn when you study philosophy, not science. It’s absolutely true that majoring in philosophy has been a huge help to me in being a trial attorney in patent cases.”

Lobenfeld originally planned for a career in radio. He came to Binghamton, auditioned for WHRW and was given a spot. He stayed with the station for four years, also serving as general manager. “I graduated and got a job with Barry Farber who had an all-night talk-radio show, booking guests for his show,” he says. “It was fun and interesting, but not intellectually stimulating. What I liked about philosophy was that I could use my brain. If you like to talk and you want to use your brain, you really should be a lawyer.”

After working a year in radio, Lobenfeld attended Brooklyn Law School,  serving as editor of the law review. “I was ready for it then,” he says. “At age 58, I’m at the top of my game and it’s something I can do for a long time if I want to do it. Age and the experience and judgment you get with it...it’s really one of the many reasons law is a good business to be in.”


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Last Updated: 2/16/10