Calvin W. Souder is an attorney whose practice includes commercial/residential real estate, tax, general complex litigation, toxic torts, product liability, fraud and commercial matters, corporate governance and compliance, and insurance.
Calvin represents corporations and government entities on a wide variety of complex corporate transactions and legal matters. In his practice, Mr. Souder helps developers and multi-family property owners navigate municipalities in drafting and negotiating redevelopment agreements, Long-term Term Tax Exemptions (PILOTS), and tax appeals. Mr. Souder also advises clients on identifying and pursuing potential funding sources. He also provides clients with invaluable aid in landlord/tenant and municipal courts. He assists clients in developing strategies to defend themselves from claims while effectively managing potential statutory and regulatory pitfalls brought about by litigation and complex transactions. Mr. Souder also aids clients in developing comprehensive strategic plans and consultation regarding the potential impact of policy and regulatory changes. In addition, Mr. Souder provides clients with access to both federal and state legislators who fashion legislation affecting a variety of industries including real estate, education, health care, energy, the environment, and insurance.
Born and raised in Newark, community roots and leadership skills run deep as he is the former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Essex County College, New Jersey’s largest community college servicing approximately 15,000 full-time students and an additional 10,000 part-time students. In addition, Mr. Souder formerly served as the Vice-Chairman of Newark Now, founded by Senator Cory Booker. Newark Now has been nationally recognized for its Financial Empowerment and Father’s Now programs. Also, as a former trustee of the Mental Health Association of New Jersey, Mr. Souder has taken on the challenge of bringing mental health awareness to bear in minority communities. Once a year, Mr. Souder travels to Abitibi-Kwahu in Ghana as a Board member of Adopt-one-Village to secure life-sustaining provisions such as water, electricity, food, and education for the village’s youth. In 2011, Mr. Souder participated in Leadership New Jersey after being identified as one of the State’s future leaders. On multiple occasions, Mr. Souder has been called upon by the Governor and various State Legislators to provide leadership to State-run institutions such as during the merger of UMDNJ and Rutgers, and the initial investigation into the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission. In 2013, Mr. Souder completed the Masters of Distinguished Leaders program, geared toward identifying and educating the next generation of Civil Rights Leaders, in Washington, DC.
Calvin was formerly an associate of one of the nation’s largest and most prestigious law firms before founding Souder, Shabazz & Woolridge. Before that, he clerked for U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton in the District of New Jersey from 2008-2009 and New Jersey Superior Court Judge John A. O’Shaughnessy of Hudson County Superior Court, Civil Division, from 2007-2008. In his role as a law clerk, he reviewed dispositive motions, social security appeals, and discovery disputes; he also drafted written opinions on a variety of civil and criminal law matters.
Calvin graduated from Seton Hall University School of Law in 2007, with honors. While in law school he served as Vice-President of the Black Law Student Association, Corporate Relations Director for the Northeast Black Law Student Association and was a member of the moot court team. Mr. Souder also received the ALI-ABA Scholarship and Leadership award for the class of 2007 and was recognized as the Best Oral Advocate in Appellate Advocacy. While at the College of the Holy Cross, Mr. Souder was a member of the school’s varsity football team and Vice-President of the Black Student Union.
Khalifah L. Shabazz is an experienced attorney who is admitted to practice law in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. She is a lifelong resident of Paterson, New Jersey. She is a seasoned litigator with particular expertise in representing municipal entities. She has a proven track record for successfully defending municipalities, school boards, and municipal utilities.
Khalifah received her law degree from the City University of New York School of Law, where her focus was trial advocacy. Upon graduating, she was appointed as an Assistant District Attorney in the Bronx, New York. She was assigned to the Trial Bureau, where she gained a reputation of being a tenacious litigator. Khalifah has served as Corporation Counsel for the City of Paterson and the City of East Orange. She has significant experience in matters involving municipal litigation defense, employment practices, real estate and tax, redevelopment contracts, worker’s compensation, and all other areas of law impacting the municipal government. Khalifah also has significant experience in all facets of education law and has represented several urban school districts, such as East Orange Board of Education, Paterson Public Schools and Jersey City Board of Education. Khalifah continues to serve as legal counsel to various municipalities and school boards throughout the State of New Jersey. She is a well-respected trial attorney who has a wide range of experience in various areas of the law, which has enabled her to develop and maintain a diverse body of clients.
Kyana Woolridge was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. Kyana attended Mother Seton Regional High School in Clark, New Jersey. Upon graduating high school, she attended the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Kyana graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in Criminal Justice. At Eastern Shore she was writer and editor of the University’s newspaper, The Hawks Messenger, President of Sigma Tau Delta International English Honors Society, and a member of Phi Kappa Phi International Honors Society. While pursuing her undergraduate degree Kyana was accepted into the Federal Bureau of Investigations Honors Internship Program in the Summer of 2003.
She divided her time between working in Washington, DC in the Office of General Counsel and in Quantico, Virginia in the Bureau’s College of Analytical Studies Department. After graduating from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore Kyana attended Howard University School of Law. During her attendance at Howard, Kyana interned with the United States Attorney Office, District of New Jersey. During her internship with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Kyana provided support services for Assistant U.S. Attorneys on a major Newark Liberty Airport Narcotics case and helped draft an Immigration brief for the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. During law school Kyana worked as a Research Assistant for the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in the Rule of Law Department. While at USIP she aided in the development of training courses to establish the rule of law in conflict countries where a traditional justice system no longer existed or scarcely prevailed. After the completion of her Juris Doctorate degree from Howard University School of Law. Kyana was a Law Clerk for the Honorable Claude M. Coleman in Essex County Superior Court Law Division. She was then an Associate for the law firm of Hunt, Hamlin & Ridley a general litigation law firm. Kyana also served as First Assistant of the Legal Department to the Township of Irvington where she focused on departmental hearing, redevelopment and contract review and formation for the Township. Kyana focus areas are Workers Compensation defense for municipalities and Land Use matters for private clients. Kyana is an active member of the New Jersey State Bar.
Bryant Horsley is a career school and education law attorney, bringing over 15 years of legal experience, with most of those years representing New Jersey school districts, as well as Legal Counsel for the New Jersey Department of Education. Bryant served over 3.5 years as Deputy Attorney General in the Education Section of the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General. As Deputy Attorney General, Bryant successfully represented the Commissioner of Education in a multitude of appellate matters, as well as the New Jersey Department of Education and its various divisions, which include finance, licensure and credentials, Board of Examiners, Student residency and homeless offices, Transportation, OFAC, Special Education, Charter schools, and Early childhood education. He has conducted trials in the Office of Administrative Law, as well as litigating countless cases in the Federal and State trial and appellate courts. Many of the cases litigated by Bryant have served to help shape New Jersey’s Public Education law, especially in matters of student residency, homelessness, finance, fiscal accountability and compliance, special ed., licensure and credentials, tenure and employee discipline, and transportation.
Bryant has also advised and counselled school districts in all aspects of school and education law, including: budget development and management, declining State aid and revenue, litigation, civil rights, torts, OPRA, OPMA, student discipline, student rights, data, and privacy, tenure, licensure and credentials, employee discipline, human resources and benefits, labor and employment, union contracts and grievances, procurement and purchasing, real estate transactions, athletic field improvements, reorganization, curriculum and instruction, First Amendment, constitutional law, athletics, policy, regulations, transgender issues, undocumented students, workers’ compensation, and compliance. Currently, as counsel for Souder Shabazz & Woolridge Law Group, Bryant continues to assist New Jersey boards of education in these types of matters.
Bryant served for over 3.5 years as the first General Counsel for the State-operated Camden City School District, and more recently he served as the General Counsel for Jersey City Public Schools, the second largest school district in New Jersey with a budget more than $730 million. As General Counsel, Bryant’s solutions-oriented approach enabled the boards and administrations to successfully remediate many of their legal vulnerabilities, improve academic outcomes, successfully navigate union, tenure, and RIF issues, close multiple failing schools, and develop policies and procedures that improved employee relations, health, and safety. More recently as the Jersey City Public Schools General Counsel, Bryant successfully assisted the Board and Administration in navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, including dealing with increased expenses and declining revenue, employee absenteeism, compliance with executive orders and emergency legislation affecting employment and employees, and employee relations and safety practices for its 6,500+ employees and 30,000+ students.
Bryant often delivers trainings and seminars to educators and boards of education at NJSBA and other school law conferences in various aspects of school and education law. His list of speaking engagements and presentations include the following:
- “Advanced Reduction in Force (Considerations)”; Presentation of guide to performing a RIF at the NJSBA School Law Forum
- “Tenure Implementation Issues”; Presentation of school administrators’ guide to removing tenured employees at the NJSBA School Law Forum
- Panelist in 2013 “Quality in Education Summit” re: education lawyers’ perspective on the current and future state of public education in New Jersey [See Video]
- College guest lecturer for education, employment, and First Amendment issues
- Presented on FERPA, students records, and social media policies at NJSBA Annual Conference for board members
- Drafted presentation re: OPMA and social media issues for NJSBA School Law Forum
Bryant earned his law degree from Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, as well as a Bachelor of Civil Law. In addition to his two law degrees, Bryant earned a Master of Education with a concentration in Science Education from the Rutgers University Graduate School of Education. Bryant’s academic background in education affords Bryant a unique understanding of the intersection of legal, academic, and student achievement matters.