Business is in my blood. I was raised in my father’s Brooklyn pizzeria, eventually working my way up from stock boy and dishwasher to become a manager on the weekends and during summer breaks. It was from behind the counter that I learned to understand how opportunity exists everywhere around us, where I learned to appreciate the difficulties a business faces in meeting its compliance requirements, and where I first learned about how the law impacts even the smallest of businesses (though I did not know it at the time.)
My family moved to Wallington, New Jersey when I was in middle school, a town that is only one square mile and home to blue-collar workers and small business owners—carpenters and masons were common trades. While studying political science and economics at Montclair State University, I discovered that I have the skills and traits to be a lawyer. I knew I wanted to work in the business world and felt business law would be a good fit for me.
I came to Rutgers Law School because of the value proposition; the affordability and scholarship awards offered were too good to pass up. I knew Rutgers Law had a strong reputation in public interest law and mistakenly believed that opportunities to study business and corporate law would be hard to come by. I figured I would take all the business law classes I could fit into my schedule while exploring other areas of law I wouldn’t have otherwise considered.
I had a very poor first year academically. I only enjoyed my 1L contracts class and spent the following summer questioning if law school was right for me and even debating if I should continue or not. It wasn’t until the fall semester of 2L year when I was taking Commercial Law that I first felt like I was capable of becoming a lawyer.
When learning the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), I was able to translate the concepts to situations I faced while behind the counter of my father’s pizzeria. The first ‘Aha!’ moment happened while I was learning about the right a merchant has to inspect goods before accepting or rejecting them. I immediately began to think about the weekly delivery we received from our food distributor—usually on Tuesday mornings right in the middle of the lunch rush at the pizzeria. We would initially count the items delivered to make sure it reflects the order size, but with the lunch rush in full swing, we wouldn’t have the time to unpack each box and inspect everything immediately. With this understanding, the UCC provision granting a merchant a reasonable time to inspect goods made perfect sense to me.
In search of more corporate and business law courses, I found two courses that caught my eye: the Entrepreneurship Law Clinic and Transactions. I enrolled in the Entrepreneurship Law Clinic for two consecutive semesters, where I represented start-ups and entrepreneurs with product or business ideas seeking guidance through the business formation process. This was a great opportunity to bring corporate and business law concepts I had learned together and put them into practice. In the clinic, we advised clients on entity selection, operating agreements, vesting schedules, and exit strategies. The insight I gained through hands-on experience in building a new company from an idea was invaluable to me and convinced me that this was the type of work I wanted to pursue.
My experience in the Transactions course was similar, we learned about the various forms of business transactions, how to spot client-specific issues, and how to give practical advice to future clients. We ended each section of the course by drafting a memorandum addressing the concerns we had with each transaction and what we thought was the best way forward considering the legal and business implications.
After focusing on corporate and business law and meeting the GPA requirement, I was able to attain the Corporate and Business Law certificate offered by the Center for Corporate Law and Governance (CCLG) at Rutgers Law School. CCLG continues to add new corporate and business law courses, as well as hosts regular guest lectures with prominent corporate lawyers and business leaders. CCLG’s commitment to growing the corporate and business law curriculum at Rutgers was not something I expected coming into law school, but is a program that I have benefitted from personally. I have full confidence that future students will find a corporate and business law program that rivals the public interest offerings at Rutgers Law.