Linda Pissot Reig

From Humble Roots to Successful Lawyer: SASN Alumnus Linda Pissott Reig Pays It Forward

Linda Pissott Reig (SASN ’90) has had her sights set high from the beginning.

The youngest of three children from a working class family in Belleville, NJ, she remembers her parents telling her that she could go to any college she wanted while growing up. She worked hard and graduated third in her class at Belleville High School. She applied to top schools and got into Tufts University, despite few students from her school attending prestigious colleges. But family finances ultimately limited her options, and she chose to live at home and attend Rutgers University–Newark, which, together with the state of New Jersey, offered her scholarships that covered most of her tuition. 

That choice would prove fortuitous.

At RU-N Pissott Reig joined the Honors College—which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year—majored in English and Political Science, got involved in student government, worked at a law firm to gain experience and make extra money, and thrived. She used her savings to help pay for Georgetown Law School, where she finished in the top-third of her class before clerking for Marie Garibaldi, the first female NJ State Supreme Court judge, and going on to a successful career as a litigator and counsel in New Jersey's biotechnology sector. Along the way, Pissott Reig has found myriad ways to give back to RU-N, demonstrating immense gratitude while helping to pave the way for other first-generation college students like herself.

“I had a tremendous academic experience at RU-N and the Honors College,” said Pissott Reig. “We had great deans and professors who cared and a community of ambitious, high-achieving students whom I really valued. I felt special there.”

Humble Beginnings

Pissott Reig grew up in the same town where her dad was raised (Belleville), in a staunchly catholic household that attended mass every Sunday and sat in the same pew—third row from the front—at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Nutley, NJ. Her father had a high-school diploma and worked as a warehouse manager; her mom, who was raised in Newark and fell a few credits short of finishing high school, was employed as a legal secretary. But each of them, in their own way, encouraged their one and only daughter to explore her career options from an early age and think big.

I remember how impactful it was for me when alumni came back and talked with us. In addition to the strong academics, RU-N is a great gateway for that.

Pissott Reig loved science as a kid and performed in musicals during high school. She considered teaching as a career but really had her heart set on medicine until 11th-grade biology dissections convinced her otherwise (“I hated formaldehyde and cutting open frogs”). She was indefatigable though, interviewing anyone she could during high school to shed light on an appropriate career path: a local physical therapist, her engineer uncle, the lawyer her mom worked for, whoever would answer her questions. 

It was law that captured her attention, and before graduating high school Pissott Reig secured a job as a legal secretary at Piro Zinna Cifelli Paris & Genitempo LLC, in Nutley, and hit the ground running the summer before matriculating at RU-N, while also working full-time at a local grocery store to bring in money for college. She worked at the law firm 15 hours per week over the next four years while taking the bus to and from work and RU-N.

Once on campus, Pissott Reig dove headlong into her English, Political Science, International Relations and pre-Law classes; took advantage of all the small seminars, guest speakers, retreats and special events the Honors College had to offer; served as Student Government Senator, Vice President and Council of Arbitration representative during her sophomore through senior years; and produced myriad campus events, including a talent show that ran for three years and a Moot Court event focusing on actual appellate court cases dealing with diversity and affirmative action. In addition, she found time to participate in protests, advocating for undergraduate student housing and better parking for commuter students.

In other words, she wrung every last drop out of the opportunity she had at RU-N, and nearly paid a price.

“I loaded up on so many activities during college that, after seeing a doctor about extreme fatigue, I had to pull back and not run for Student Government president my senior year,” said Pissott Reig. “But I was loving RU-N. It had a really vibrant student life for a commuter campus, just so much going on and so many opportunities to be engaged. And the supportive environment in retrospect made it the perfect place for me.”

Launching a Career and GIving Back

Pissott Reig graduated Phi Beta Kappa from RU-N, and after law school and her clerkship began a nearly 30-year legal career, working as an Associate at Norris, McLaughlin, and Marcus on commercial disputes; serving as Principal for Porzio, Bromberg, & Newman PC and Vice President of Compliance Services for their subsidiary, Porzio Pharmaceutical Services; and moving to Buchanan, Ingersoll, & Rooney PC, where she is a currently a shareholder providing legal counseling on marketing and sales for FDA-regulated products. She also is the current Co-Chair, with SASN alumnus Mark Gaydos (SASN ’92), of the Compliance and Regulatory Advisory Committee for BioNJ Legal, a 30-year-old New Jersey life-sciences trade association.

Pissott-Reig has done this while raising two daughters, Jacquelyn (14) and Diana (16), in Springfield, NJ, with her husband, Richard, who is currently the Vice President, Section Head of Employment Law, at Novartis. She has also given back in droves to RU-N, SASN and the Honors College. For 10 years after law school, she worked with the RU-N Alumni Association in various capacities, setting up a Young Alumni Committee, serving as a designated representative for College of Arts & Sciences alumni group to the Rutgers Alumni Federation, chairing the Constituent Concerns Committee, participating in alumni career panels, and other important roles.

Pissott Reig dialed back her alumni involvement for several years when her children were younger, but she re-engaged in 2018 when RU-N's Life Sciences II building came online. She and Gaydos reached out to former SASN Dean Jan Lewis to see if their biotech network could be useful to students (Gaydos is VP and Global Head of Advertising, Promotion and Labeling for Sanofi Pharmaceutical’s Global Regulatory Affairs area). That year she joined the SASN Dean’s Cabinet, which she and Gaydos still serve on. She guest lectures for English classes and continues to participate in alumni career panels, discussing how her English major was a great pathway to practicing law, and she co-teaches a pharmaceutical legal and ethics class to MBA students at the Rutgers Business School.

Her alumni and professional contributions have not gone unnoticed. In 2004 Pissott-Reig received the REAL Scarlet Oak Meritorious Service Award from Rutgers, and in 2007 she was named in the New Jersey 40 under 40 by New Jersey Law Journal.

Pissott Reig is grateful for the foundation that RU-N provided her and is intent on paying it forward any way she can.

“I remember how impactful it was for me when alumni came back and talked with us. In addition to the strong academics, RU-N is a great gateway for that,” said Pissott Reig. “SASN and the Honors College, in particular, taught us the value of building strong networks and nurturing them, and provided a community that made such a difference for me. Those of us serving on SASN Dean’s Cabinet want to do the same, be a resource for students who are trying to figure it out.”