Therese Rohrbeck Meers ’08 on how she became an entrepreneur
“I joined a large law firm after graduation, believing that a firm was where I would learn how to practice law. A RIF [reduction-in-force] went through the firm, and in 2009, I and my first-year associate class were asked to leave. I had gone from collecting my law degree from Dean Kagan to waiting in the unemployment line.
“It was Harvard that helped me get back to work. First I volunteered as an attorney in Harvard’s Transactional Law Clinics and the Post-Foreclosure Law Clinic. I was learning how to create corporations and review contracts while knocking on doors informing residents that their property was in foreclosure. I lived and breathed the economic crisis. My focus was off of my own unemployment and on to getting people back to work by starting community businesses and helping them stay in their homes when landlords failed to pay their mortgages.
“I spent almost a year volunteering and trying to get back to work. I then received a fellowship from HLS and served as a clinical fellow at the Transactional Law Clinics. I improved my skills and helped build more than 50 for-profit or nonprofit businesses—all of them started by clients who otherwise would not have been able to afford legal counsel. It was at TLC that the entrepreneurial bug bit me.
“My soon-to-be husband and I decided to begin our own business. We pooled our savings and launched Saga Dairy Inc., which produces Viking Icelandic Yogurt. We’ve had much success! We were recently named Entrepreneurs to Watch by Food Navigator Magazine.
“We grew Viking from two cities, Chicago and St. Louis, to across nine states. 2016 is a year of growth for us. Viking just hit store shelves in Texas and New England this spring. It was the legal training I received as an HLS fellow that allowed me to start my own business.”