Becoming a Lawyer with an MBA

Laying the Groundwork

After graduating from the University of Virginia, I moved to San Francisco, where I worked in customer success at two startups. My roles involved talking to clients, creating customer-training materials, and understanding the technical aspects of the platform for support purposes.

I quickly became interested in how to transform a small company into a full-scale employer, inspiring me to pursue my higher education goals. From an early age, I saw myself studying law. While I debated business school, the role of a lawyer supporting businesses felt like the right path for me. In 2016, I enrolled at UC Davis School of Law.

Filling the Knowledge Gap

Mind mapping my MBA education

After my first year of law school, I felt like something was missing from my legal education. Specifically, I noticed a gap in my knowledge around finance, accounting, and corporate strategy.

While interning at HM.CLAUSE during my first summer, I took the GMAT and applied to the Full-Time MBA program at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management (GSM). By the end of the summer, I was officially a joint JD/MBA candidate.

By pairing business with law, I have been able to fill my knowledge gap.

My MBA coursework has provided an incredibly helpful conceptual roadmap for business functions. I have taken courses that lay the theoretical groundwork for strategic decision making, inform the core areas of business (operations, finance, and marketing), and build important skills (data analysis, accounting, and organization behavior). 

Through a Different Lens

Both programs look at business issues through a different yet complimentary lens. For example, I have taken the Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) course offered at both schools. The GSM M&A course dives into assessing the strategic advantages of an acquisition and ultimately challenged us to propose a future acquisition of two real-world companies. The law school M&A course looks more closely at the process required to complete such a complex transaction. While both courses addressed different concepts, I found myself drawing from the GSM class when completing assignments for the law school class.

Similarly, accounting has been useful at both schools. In addition to the accounting courses at the GSM, I have enjoyed taking tax courses at the law school. Currently, I am using this knowledge in practice as I extern for the legal division of the California Franchise Tax Board. Both perspectives have been critical in preparing me to pursue a legal career supporting businesses, and I am incredibly fortunate to have received both educations.

Building My Career Path(s)

As a law and business school student at UC Davis, I've had the opportunity to learn from both tech entrepreneurs in the Bay Area and larger research and development firms in the greater Northern California region.

During my first summer, I worked for the legal department of HM.CLAUSE, a global agriculture company with headquarters in Davis. Throughout the summer, I worked with commercial law, employment law, and insurance. I also learned about how an agriculture company is structured to facilitate the early research and development, pre-market trial, and commercialization stages of seed production.

This quarter, I participated in the Biotechnology Industry Immersion at GSM where we have learned about similar structures in biotechnology and drug development companies.

Davis has been a great location for me to learn about innovative industries outside the traditional Silicon Valley/San Francisco tech corridor.

At the same time, Davis is close enough to San Francisco for me to continue working with the technology industry. During my second summer, I worked as a legal intern at Udemy, an education technology company in San Francisco. At Udemy, I reviewed contracts and assisted with GDPR compliance. This opportunity inspired me to explore my legal interests in data privacy and algorithmic bias. This summer, I plan to join the corporate transactional practice at a law firm in Silicon Valley to support growing entrepreneurial enterprises.

Reflections of a JD/MBA Student

While four years is a long time to spend away from the workforce, I am glad that I am pursuing both degrees concurrently. By the time I graduate with a JD/MBA, I will have spent three summers experiencing three different possible paths for my future career.

Additionally, meeting alumni from the UC Davis JD/MBA program has been inspiring. It is encouraging to meet graduates who have developed successful careers both within the legal industry and on the business side. Ultimately, my experiences have left me incredibly optimistic about the vast potential of my career after graduation.