BY SUSAN VOGEL
DUAL DEGREE GRADS
Santa Clara Law's J.D./MBA program empowers graduates with key tools to be successful in law and business.
AFTER WORKING FOR MORRISON AND FOERSTER IN PALO ALTO AND INTEL CAPITAL, FRANCIS JOSE J.D./MBA ’03 moved to his current position as corporate counsel for contracts at Immersion, a San Jose technology company concentrating in “haptics,” touch technology that creates texture and feel in an electronic product.
Photo: Scott Lewis
Five years out of law school, Zachary Zaharek BS ’91, J.D./MBA ’95, was standing over a sink in a hair salon washing a client’s hair before styling it into cornrows. “I would get it all wet first and then tell her that I’m really a lawyer, not a stylist, and that the worst that could happen was that I’d get water all over her face.”
Zaharek, a former linebacker for the Bronco football team, was in cosmetology boot camp, preparing for his role as inhouse counsel with Sebastian, the iconic hair product company that provided the structural support for the big hair of the 1980s. “I was not a licensed cosmetologist, so I couldn’t cut hair,” he says, “but I could play with hair.”
While playing with hair was not one of the advantages Santa Clara Law had in mind when it established its joint J.D./MBA program, it is one of many that have propelled graduates into top positions in corporate legal departments, law firms, and government in the 16 years since the program’s first two graduates flipped their tassels in 1977.
During his first few years of teaching the law of business organizations, corporation finance, and securities regulation at Santa Clara Law, Jost Baum, now professor emeritus, observed “a need for the students who wanted to go into the corporate and business side of practice to understand things that typically were not taught in law school, like finance, accounting, and understanding financial statements.”
Baum, who has a bachelor of arts and a juris doctor from the University of Chicago, and had done postgraduate work at the London School of Economics, proposed a program similar to those offered by some other law schools, in which students could earn both a J.D. and an MBA with the law and business schools sharing certain academic credits.
“The whole notion was well received,” he says, and two students signed up: Dan Mount B.S. ’74, J.D./MBA ’77, and Andy Kryder B.S. ’74, J.D./MBA ’77.
PROFESSOR EMERITUS JOST BAUM helped to launch the J.D./MBA program at Santa Clara Law in the mid-70s.
Photo: Scott Lewis
Mount had a degree in economics. “I had wondered whether I would end up in law or business,” Mount says, “and the joint degree would give me the chance to explore both.”
Kryder, who had an undergraduate degree in accounting, interviewed with the Big Eight, but didn’t want to be an auditor. “Checking other people’s work didn’t seem creative. I really liked the business law classes I took as an undergrad, and I saw that the MBA would not cost me a lot of money.”
To the surprise of the University, Mount and Kryder powered through the two programs in three years even as they both worked part-time.
Students now complete their first year as law students, their second year as MBA students, and then take law and business classes concurrently in their third and fourth years. While Kryder and Mount, with undergrad degrees in business, found the law classes the most challenging, others say that the business school classes were the toughest. Jeff Holl J.D./MBA ’81, says, “my time in the business school caused more hair loss than my time in the law school. Mathematics was never my forte...so writing essays was always more pleasurable than equations.”
Regardless of students’ backgrounds or strengths, managing both programs takes discipline. “The one major challenge was time,” says Valerie Alabanza-Cary J.D./MBA ’00. “With law school courses during the day and business classes in the evening, I had to be disciplined and efficient with my time between classes to get the work done. Group projects are common for many business courses, so managing your time is an important skill as you have to accommodate other people’s schedules as well.”
A LEG UP
All agree that the joint degree was well worth the demands it placed on their time and bank account. In the business world, attorneys are sometimes seen as naysayers, admonishing clients that they can’t do this or that. But an MBA turns them into creative problem-solvers and opens many doors upon graduation and beyond. It often gives grads increased access into and between corporate legal departments, law firms, and tax firms.
Assistant Professor David Yosifon, who is faculty advisor for the program, says, “Silicon Valley needs people who can speak both languages—law and business. Especially in times of economic crisis, clients want lawyers who can think about business. Most of the time when a client comes to you for advice there is a business question tangled up in the legal question.” Having both degrees, he says, gives graduates a leg up.
The leg up Kryder got was a job upon graduation in Arthur Young’s (now Ernst & Young) tax department. “They normally didn’t hire directly for that department,” he says, “but because I had a degree in accounting, an MBA, and a J.D., they hired me directly.” In 1988 he became a tax partner, and remained with the firm until 1990, when he joined Quantum as General Counsel and Vice President.
Louise McCabe J.D./MBA ’83, who holds an undergraduate joint degree in economics and sociology, landed a solid job in a soft market in the tax department of Touche Ross, now Deloitte. There she joined two other Santa Clara Law graduates, Ted Upland J.D./MBA ’81 and Sam Coffey ’83 and worked with them for the next several years.
When Francis Jose J.D./MBA ’03 applied to the corporate department of Morrison and Foerster’s Palo Alto office upon graduation, he was told that “the ramp up for a junior associate just to understand where the client is coming from was two to three years,” he says. The MBA, however, shortened that. “The MBA allowed me to relate a lot faster to the client since CFOs and CEOs of companies tend to have gone to business school,” he says.
Mount’s MBA got him his first job out of law school as a business litigator. “With an MBA, I understand financial statements, and I know when to litigate,” he says. “We fight about money only when it makes money sense.”
His MBA has also helped in the day-to-day management of his firm, Mount & Stolker, in San Jose. “An MBA helps you better understand the service business we are in as lawyers,” he says.
Louise McCabe switched from tax to litigation and worked as a partner at Nixon Peabody specializing in complex business disputes. Now a partner in the Southern California offices of Troutman Sanders, McCabe says, “I believe the business education gave me a tremendous advantage as a litigator. [It] made me a better, more well-rounded, and practical lawyer, and provided a heightened sensitivity to the business and financial goals of my clients.”
It also made her a highly valued law firm manager. McCabe has served in a number of management positions throughout her career including that of treasurer, where for a time she was responsible for oversight of the accounting department and day-to-day financial operations of a firm. “The MBA and accounting background really enabled my career to soar very early on," she says of her first position with a major law firm after leaving Touche Ross. “I came in with a business sense, was made partner in five years, and was elected to the executive and management committees,” she says.
DAN MOUNT B.S. ’74, J.D./MBA ’77
Photo: Scott Lewis
LOUISE MCCABE J.D./MBA ’83
Photo Courtesy of Louise McCabe J.D./MBA ’83
DUAL DEGREES OPEN IN-HOUSE DOORS
When Sebastian was purchased by Wella, which was then bought by Procter & Gamble, Zaharek, rather than moving to Cincinnati, found a headhunter, showered her with hair products, and landed a job as senior corporate counsel for Downey Savings and Loan. Now he is division counsel of First American Corporation, the largest real estate information and title company in the United States, based in Orange County.
“There is no question that my MBA played a part in getting in-house counsel jobs,” says Zaharek. “It said that I was comfortable reviewing financial statements and able to understand numbers more than the average lawyer. In these jobs, you have to understand accounting and finance.”
An internship at Sun Microsystems after her first year of law school convinced Alabanza-Cary that she wanted to work in-house. She felt an MBA would make her more competitive. It did. Upon graduation, she was hired by Sun, where, over nine years she rose from contract attorney to counsel to senior counsel to assistant general counsel.
When Sun announced its acquisition by Oracle in 2009, she was one of just five assistant general counsel out of a products legal department of 38. “It is difficult to say how much the MBA helped my career at Sun,” says Alabanza-Cary, “but I know it was a benefit. The extra knowledge, especially as a new in-house attorney, gave me confidence, as the MBA program taught me the multiple aspects that make up core parts of a business.”
Alabanza-Cary, who went on to work as IP transactions counsel at SAP, a provider of business software, says her MBA “was a good introduction to business, as I was a political science major and didn’t have a business background. The MBA gave me great tools as I began my in-house career.”
“Silicon Valley needs people who can speak both languages—law and business,” says Santa Clara Law Assistant Professor David Yosifon, faculty advisor for the J.D./MBA program. “Especially in times of economic crisis, clients want lawyers who can think about business.”
Photo: Scott Lewis
THE BLUE LANE
Seven years into law firm practice, Jose made the move. After working with Intel Capital, on loan from Morrison and Foerster, he jumped to his current position as corporate counsel for contracts at Immersion, a San Jose technology company concentrating in “haptics,” touch technology that creates texture and feel in an electronic product (its president and CEO, Victor Viegas, holds undergrad and business degrees from SCU).
Jose is grateful that his MBA gave him the chance to move from a firm to working in-house. “You know when you go to work each day that a new and unique problem will come up,” he says. “It makes life pretty exciting, especially when you are also growing a company.”
In 2000, Kryder left Quantum to become general counsel of network applications at NetApp, a data storage and management company. “Because of my finance and law background, I had both the tax and the legal departments reporting to me, which is kind of unique.”
“My financial background,” says Kryder, “has been one of the biggest pieces contributing to my success. If you have a legal background you focus mostly on risk, but the business background says, ‘it’s not about how much it costs, it’s about how much you make as a result.’ Without the financial background I wouldn’t be as good at that side of it.”
An MBA can also add value in government service, including the bench. Holl found his MBA helpful when he became an administrative law judge after 20 years as a trial lawyer in a personal injury firm. As a judge for the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, Holl hears cases on labor issues before the Employment Development Department, the largest taxing authority in the state after the Franchise Tax Board. Working with “hardworking public service lawyers and judges dedicated to a community service ideal,” he adjudicates tax appeals in addition to labor, unemployment, and disability cases.
“My financial background has been one of the biggest pieces contributing to my success,” says Andy Kryder B.S. ’74, J.D./ MBA ’77. “If you have a legal background, you focus mostly on risk, but the business background says, ‘it’s not about how much it costs, it’s about how much you make as a result.’ Without the financial background I wouldn’t be as good at that side of it.”
ANDY KRYDER B.S. ’74, J.D./MBA ’77
Photo: Scott Lewis
WHOM YOU KNOW
Zaharek says that one of the greatest benefits of his MBA is networking opportunities. “Going to law school with other MBAs helped me meet people in business and establish contacts in the business world.”
Spending their entire second year in business school allows students to not only focus more intensely on their business education but also build connections.
Zaharek is past president of the Southern California Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel–America (ACCA), the largest in-house bar association in the country. In this capacity, he has had dinner with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (he confirms she has great hair), and interviewed former President Bill Clinton (ditto) in a talk show style format in front of 1,500 legal professionals.
Alabanza-Cary, now IP and patent counsel director for the legal department of Juniper Networks, is co-chair for the In-House Committee of the Asian-Pacific Bar Association of Silicon Valley, which seeks to create a network of in-house counsel for career development and sharing experiences. Networking, she says, “makes you a better attorney.”
JEFF HOLL J.D./MBA ’81
ZACHARY ZAHAREK BS ’91, J.D./MBA ’95
Kryder, who claims to be the first graduate of the J.D./MBA program (“‘Andy’ comes before ‘Dan’ and ‘Kryder’ before ‘Mount’”), retired in September at age 57. However, he will soon experience another aspect of the joint degree: you will never retire.
Lawyers with business savvy are simply too valuable to the community. Mount says that the business degree means he has more to offer when he sits on boards of nonprofits. With an MBA you “aren’t just singing Kumbaya,” he says. “You understand how to manage affairs. You understand the financial environment and the budgets. You can help raise money.”
Mount has served on the University’s Board of Fellows, as well as on the board of EHC Life Services, a nonprofit providing emergency housing for the homeless.
Holl, who serves on the boards of Archbishop Riordan High School and City Youth Now of San Francisco’s Juvenile Hall, says, “The skills you learn in business school come in handy. On a board you are always dealing with financial people—accountants, bankers—and it helps to have an understanding of what they are saying.”
Kryder already has his nonprofit up and running. Through The Giving Gourmet, Kryder cooks gourmet dinners for nonprofits to auction off at their fundraisers. Recently, he donated two five-course gourmet meals for 10 along with wine pairings, which netted $2,600 for Notre Dame High School. His top server? None other than his rival for the coveted position as Santa Clara’s first J.D./MBA, Dan Mount. Kryder says, “I had to be number one because Dan works for me now!”