Phillip L. Paley was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1942, and grew up in New Jersey, attending schools in Hamilton, Trenton, and Fair Lawn. In 1960, Paley pursued his undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a member of ROTC. From 1964-1967, he attended Rutgers Law School in Newark. During his time in the Army in the Quartermaster Corps as a Personnel Officer, Paley went to Europe and had a tour of duty in Vietnam (1969). After the war, Paley had a career in law and became a judge in Middlesex County, New Jersey.