Strengthening a foundation in investment banking
What motivated you to pursue the JD/MBA Program?
Prior to enrolling in the JD/MBA Program, I worked in capital markets at Citi, covering municipal bonds. The head of my group had a JD/MBA degree, and I always admired his command of both the legal and financial elements of a given transaction and the nexus between the two. While I understood that a degree would not give me an absolute command of the laws and documents pertaining to financial transactions, I wanted to have legal exposure to gain a greater understanding of the transactions I was handling. Columbia’s JD/MBA Program gave me a lot of confidence in this area, which will have a lasting positive impact on my career.
Why did you choose to work at Linklaters during your 1L summer?
It was great to have the opportunity to work at a firm as a 1L. Linklaters offered a fantastic mix of great people and good exposure to the key practice areas that would be helpful both in business and law. Having exposure to the firm’s private equity, bankruptcy, and capital markets practices gave me a well-rounded experience in several key areas pertinent to the business world.
I was also excited about the international dimension of the firm. Before entering the JD/MBA Program, I primarily focused on the U.S. financial market at Citi, so it was good to add geographic diversity to my experience.
While at Linklaters, I worked on three larger projects in addition to numerous smaller one-off projects. The first project was a database tracking 363 sales and the key elements in each one of the transactions. This was to be used in the firm’s bankruptcy practice to help evaluate ongoing bankruptcy proceedings. The second project was writing an in-depth legal memo on the bankruptcy of a major telecommunications company. The third was to assist an associate working on a live capital markets transaction.
Why did you choose to work at a boutique investment bank during your 2L summer?
After working for a bulge bracket firm for several years, I wanted to experience a boutique bank to be able to decide which environment would be a better long-term fit. I liked the firm's focus on M&A and the ability to work in a small, flat environment. The firm also offered me the chance to work on both bankruptcy and M&A projects, which is rare.
While there, I had two primary assignments for the summer. My first assignment was working on a live sell-side M&A engagement involving an ambulatory surgery company. The other assignment was to look at bankruptcies in the retail industry, identify common driving factors leading the companies into Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and differentiate those from companies that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and were able to recover.
Where did you choose to work after graduation, and why?
I knew that I wanted to go into investment banking and cover either TMT (tech, media, and communications) or consumer/retail banking. Citi offered me the opportunity to work in a group exclusively focused on retail, which best aligned with my personal interests. I also had a strong network at Citi from my prior time at the firm. Further, I really believe in several of the key initiatives that the firm is rolling out for individuals at the analyst and associate levels. It was the combination of these three factors that drove my decision to work there.
How have your JD/MBA degree and internship experience been useful since graduation?
The JD/MBA degree gives me a well-rounded understanding of all the elements of a transaction, rather than just an understanding of the legal or financial elements in isolation. It would be disingenuous to pretend that I have a firm command of all of the legal considerations related to a transaction. That level of command takes many years of actual legal practice to develop. However, I do appreciate the level of comfort I have with some of the key documents that control the structuring considerations surrounding a transaction, which I gained through the JD/MBA Program. I also believe that I am able to better prepare materials for clients because of the writing style that I developed at Columbia Law School. Developing and refining writing skills is one of the most valuable, but often undervalued, parts of law school.
What advice would you give to current and aspiring JD/MBA students?
Don’t chase the herd. There is often a lot of pressure to follow a particular path that will end at a firm, bank, or fund. Each one of these options is highly demanding, and if you don’t actually want to be in a particular field, you will feel miserable along the way. A JD/MBA from Columbia offers a skill set that can open so many doors that you can pursue much more than the expected path. It is daunting to try to understand what you truly want to do while still in school (or even before starting school). Yet soul searching is a process that will allow you to maximize your time in the JD/MBA Program and your career following graduation.