Monday, July 12, 2021

An NYU Family: B. Seth Bryant (WSC '92, LAW '95), Goldie Bryant (CAS '95) and Levi Bryant (LS ’24)

B. Seth Bryant, Goldie Bryant and Levi Bryant
Goldie, Levi and B. Seth Bryant

Can you share the story of how you two met?

Seth: We met in the Fall of 1991 when I was a senior in CAS and she was a freshman - also in CAS. I went to a screening of a movie for NYU students, which might have been a Kid N’ Play movie, where I first saw my wife. I was immediately intrigued by this beautiful young woman. In that first encounter, I played it cool and remained reserved despite the instant attraction. 

I remember there was an incredible hip hop concert at the then Loeb Student Center that featured groups like Leaders of the New School with Busta Rhymes, Black Sheep, Cypress Hill and Naughty by Nature. These were the new faces of hip hop back then – now they’re old school. Goldie and I crossed paths at that concert a few weeks after the movie screening. Soon after that, my roommate, who was trying to date her sister – who was also a student at NYU, suggested that we take them out on a double date. I was all for it.

After a fun double date at the Angelika Film Center, Goldie and I started seeing each other regularly and have been together ever since. 

Goldie: We were different years, had different majors and we didn’t take any classes together. But we’d see each other at NYU student gatherings, Bobst Library, Washington Square Park and Coles gym – and that was key to our budding relationship.

The Bryant Family: their story continues

Goldie and B. Seth Bryant at NYU
Goldie and B. Seth at NYU

What did you study at NYU?

Seth: I studied Political Science and Philosophy as a double-major in CAS. I later studied law at NYU’s School of Law where I earned a J.D. in 1995.

Goldie: I was a Psychology major as an undergrad. I went to CAS because I wanted a liberal arts education and initially I thought about Pre-Med or Anthropology. I eventually settled on Psychology. After I graduated, I started a PhD program in Community Psychology in GSAS at NYU, but then my path changed. I decided to stay home and raise our four kids. Just recently, I went to law school and I’m now an Associate at BRYANT RABBINO LLP, a transactional law firm based in midtown that Seth founded. 

Can you tell us why you founded BRYANT RABBINO LLP?

Seth: It’s a winding journey, but I founded the firm to be the “go to” firm for clients seeking excellent, diverse lawyers for their business needs.  I’ve been practicing law for about 25 years. I started practicing after law school at a prestigious law firm, Debevoise & Plimpton, one of the premiere firms in the world. When that firm celebrated its 65th anniversary, it commissioned a “firm biography” that told the story of how it was founded and its evolution over the years. I’ve always been entrepreneurial and after reading that book, I thought to myself “I could do that”. The seed was planted and over time that feeling got stronger.

When I was working at large firms, I noticed smaller companies, especially minority and women owned businesses that needed sophisticated counsel, couldn’t afford large law firms. I thought that there was a great opportunity to create a law firm that could be accessible to smaller businesses, but that would still do complex deal work, and appeal to larger clients who were looking for diverse lawyers. I started a firm in 2003, which had success representing both large and small clients.  

As a result of our success, I was approached by a Miami based firm,
which happened to be the largest minority-owned firm in the country at the time.  That firm wanted to open a New York office. We reached a deal where I sold my practice to that firm and I became a partner of the that firm where I led its New York office and continued to focus on underrepresented clients and urban communities.  

After a few years, I took that practice, which I called the “urban markets practice” to a large law firm that had complimentary practices.  That firm had a leadership change that didn’t support an “urban markets practice” and so in 2009, I founded the firm that has come to be known as BRYANT RABBINO. 

It’s been a great 12 year run from there. In 2020, we were ranked as the number 10 municipal bond counsel in the country. And in the first quarter of 2021, we moved up the rankings to number eight. We’ve had tremendous success, in addition to our growth in municipal bonds, representing leading financial service firms, industrial and technology company and representing leading MWBE businesses in a range of transactional matters. I think we have a bright path for future growth in other areas. We’ve focused on municipal bonds to this point, but our real estate and mergers and acquisitions practice areas are continuing to grow.

Can you talk about your involvement with organizations and clubs on campus? 

I found the student organizations very helpful especially during my freshman year. It was definitely a lifeline being able to go to different meetings and events and meet great people. 

As an undergrad Psychology major, I was able to take graduate level  classes  – which I found to be more interesting and I enjoyed the intimate class settings. And I was part of the NYU chapter of Psi Chi, the international honor society in psychology. As a grad student, I led a student support group for the Academic Achievement Program (AAP).

Seth: I was very involved in student organizations. I served as the Chair of the Student Activities Board. I also co-chaired the African Student Congress with Gillian Haines, which was an influential coalition of Black student organizations that petitioned NYU to develop an Africana Studies Program. Ultimately, we were successful in compelling NYU to add that program. 

I was part of a small group that founded the student group that is now known as GQ, or Gentlemen of Quality. Back then, it was called Brothers for Brothers. We were a group of black and brown men that wanted to be supportive of each other as students at NYU. The organization has continued to thrive and flourish. I had the good fortune to meet some of the GQ student leaders a few years ago.  It’s a particular point of pride that the organization still exists and is active today.

B. Seth Bryant at an NYU Student Event
B. Seth Bryant at an NYU Student Event

Any favorite or especially memorable places on campus for you?

Goldie: My freshman year, I lived in Weinstein which was a great location. Then, I moved to Brooklyn and commuted. Washington Square Park was a place where I spent a lot of time. Also, Bobst Library – I’d go there to study, but it was also a very social destination. I’d meet Seth at the library. I used to run on the track on the roof of Coles, which was a great outlet. And, of course, the Loeb Student Center, since there were so many events there.

I took a photography class where we got to see exhibits in small art galleries in SoHo that you might not know about as a student. I visited places that I otherwise wouldn’t have known existed. That was a lot of fun – exploring the neighborhood. 

Seth: I lived on campus my first two years, in Hayden Hall and Third North, then moved to Brooklyn. I was a part of HEOP (the Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program) which was very important for me. But for HEOP, I would not have gone to NYU and I may never have left Buffalo, New York, where I grew up. The HEOP office was a great place for support. Valerie Cabral (WSC ’81, now Director of Tandon Alumni Relations) was my first counselor. It was a very welcoming place. 

Other favorite places were Coles and the Loeb Student Center.  I also loved  Washington Square Park – I studied there and enjoyed hanging out in the park. Goldie and I also loved the Angelika Film Center where we would go to see independent films. I later went to law school at NYU and stayed in the community. 

Your son, Levi, is a Liberal Studies student, Class of 2024. What is it like being an NYU parent?

Seth: We’re excited about the legacy aspect of it. Given that Goldie and I met at NYU, it is a very special “full circle” event for us. He just finished his freshman year and he’s on a trip now with some friends he made during his first year. I have been really happy for him. Relatively speaking, he has had as normal an experience as you could hope for [during the COVID-19 pandemic]. His first semester he had a number of hybrid classes with smaller class settings and he really benefited from the engagement. Socially, he was pretty happy this year. 

As a parent, I was very happy he was able to go to NYU, because of all that it offers. As an alumnus, it’s sweet because he lived at Third North – a familiar place for me. He hasn’t had as much of an opportunity to get involved with the clubs that were so important to me. I’m looking forward to next year and hope he’ll be able to have a fuller campus experience.

Goldie: I was very concerned about Levi starting school during the pandemic. Some kids had a really hard time, so I feel lucky that Levi adjusted well and made the most of his experience this past year. He made lots of friends, including some who go to Tisch. When I was a student, I really loved going to my Tisch friends’ performances and poetry readings. I hope he has similar opportunities. I was really glad that he had hybrid classes – just knowing how much he thrives with personal interaction. We are hopeful for more in-person experiences next year.

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