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Syracuse College of Law adds alum Palao-Ricketts to board

By Eric Reinhardt


SYRACUSE — Syracuse University (SU) College of Law announced it has added Cisco Palao-Ricketts — a 2003 graduate and a partner at law firm DLA Piper in California — to its board of advisors. 

Palao-Ricketts becomes the first board member from the state of California, the school said in a July 7 news release. In recent years, the Golden State has been the “fourth or fifth largest source” of SU College of Law applications, the school said. The SU College of Law has an alumni base of nearly 600 lawyers in the state.

“A proud member of our alumni family on the West Coast, Cisco has built a remarkable career in Silicon Valley as a multi-disciplinary specialist in tax, ERISA, securities, corporate, and employment law. This perspective, as well as his lived experience as an immigrant from Peru, make Cisco a dynamic addition to our board,” Craig Boise, dean of the SU College of Law, said in a statement. “I look forward to the energy Cisco will bring to our discussions as we continue to develop our 21st-century legal education experience.”

ERISA is short for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.

About Palao-Ricketts

Born in Cuzco, Peru, Palao-Ricketts left Peru in 1983 due to terrorism and political instability that affected his family directly. Without knowing English, Palao-Ricketts immigrated to Illinois and lived with his grandparents. After graduating from the University of Chicago Laboratory High School and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with degrees in political science and communications, Palao-Ricketts studied law at Syracuse, developing a strong interest in tax and ERISA law. 

After graduating from Syracuse in 2003, Palao-Ricketts received an LL.M. in tax law from Georgetown Law School in 2004, with a focus on employee benefits and executive compensation. 

Palao-Ricketts began his career at Holme Roberts & Owen in Denver, Colorado before moving to Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in Palo Alto, California, where he focused on executive-compensation arrangements and mergers and acquisitions.

Palao-Ricketts joined the East Palo Alto, California office of United Kingdom–based DLA Piper in 2015, where he is now a partner and leader of that law firm’s West Coast employee benefits and executive compensation practice. A specialist in executive and equity compensation, he describes himself as a “one-stop-shop on the many laws impacting how employers pay employees and consultants in the technology and life sciences sectors,” per the release. 

Palao-Ricketts has mentored and advised dozens of students from the SU College of Law since graduating, including helping students discuss their interest in tax law, bar exam preparation, or the transition to practicing law. 

As a consultant to the State Bar of California, Palao-Ricketts for several years drafted model answers and graded bar exams. He has served on the board of directors of La Raza Centro Legal, a San Francisco nonprofit providing legal services to the working poor, the elderly, and immigrants.

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