Students Navigating the Worlds of Law and Business

For students interested in the confluence of business and law, there is one group on campus that has taken the lead in connecting them with business figures

for career advice. Led for the past two years by Matthew Schoenfeld ’12, the Harvard Association for Law and Business has grown from an organization of 50 to one of more than 700 members—drawn by a robust weekly speaker series as well as other events that promote networking and mentoring, among other benefits.

“We have an advisory board of nearly 30 alumni who are prominent in their respective fields,” said Schoenfeld, who is co-president this year with Peter Krause ’12. “We match them with students. That is an attractive feature, too.”

It has been for Miguel Abugattas ’12, who joined HALB as a 1L and now serves as the group’s vice president. Abugattas said he’s found it useful to discuss summer internships and possible job prospects with his alumni mentor, Sarah Kim J.D./M.B.A. ’05, a principal at the private equity firm of Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.

The process of becoming a lawyer “is much harder if you want to go off the beaten path,” said Abugattas. “That is where the mentor relationship really stands out. All members of the advisory board have a J.D., and some are J.D./M.B.A.s. Some work as general counsel for corporations, and some work for investment firms … so we have people who can provide advice for those planning a more traditional legal career or those who plan to do something different.”

Katherine Petti ’13, the corporate law co-chair on HALB’s advisory board, said the mentor piece is especially important for women, “who I believe need to know … that they have a place at the highest levels of law and business.”

The group’s focus on networking and mentorship is supported by its roster of speakers, most of whom are alumni, who arrive on campus, on average, twice per week. This year they ranged from real estate developer Howard Milstein ’76 to Morgan Stanley chief investment strategist David Darst to hedge fund founders David Bonderman ’66, Mitch Julis ’81, Seth Klarman, Jody LaNasa ’94, David Rubenstein, Anthony Scaramucci ’89 and Paul Singer ’69 (to name just a few).

“Our speaker series takes a more long-term view of people’s careers,” said Schoenfeld, “and in turn, it helps students to conceptualize their own.”

—Mary Tamer