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Dean's Desk: A law degree opens doors to nontraditional legal jobs

August 9, 2017

Dean Andrew KleinOne of the joys of being a legal educator is following the achievements of students after they leave school. And today, more than ever, I see graduates of the Indiana University McKinney School of Law using their legal educations in an impressive range of ways.

Despite some narratives to the contrary, a law degree does not limit one’s professional trajectory. To the contrary, it opens doors. Our school’s data supports that point. But a litany of statistics would make a dull column. So, instead, allow me to introduce several of our graduates who have found success off the beaten path of traditional law practice.

Tadd Miller, ’06, is a co-founder and chief executive officer of Milhaus, where he leads the business and corporate strategy for all of his company’s divisions. Milhaus is well-known and widely regarded for developing urban multi-family and mixed-use properties throughout the Midwest and Florida.

Miller did not come to law school with an intention of practicing in a law firm. His first love has always been building and planning. Miller graduated from the College of Architecture and Urban Planning at Ball State University, supporting himself and learning hands-on skills working as a general contractor. He then completed an M.B.A. at Indiana Wesleyan University before starting law school.

“I just saw the need for knowledge,” Miller said of his decision to attend IU McKinney. Law school “gave me the ability to deal with the unexpected.”

David Nguyen,’06, is an assistant professor of education at the University of Texas-San Antonio in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. He started college hoping to become a teacher. But along the way, he became deeply interested in educational policy and decided to utilize his own education to make a difference in that arena.

Nguyen earned a J.D. and an M.B.A. through our school’s joint-degree program with the IU Kelley School of Business. He then served as a visiting professor of business ethics at Vietnam National University in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where he developed and taught graduate courses in business ethics for the university’s M.B.A. and Doctor of Business Administration programs. Nguyen then received a Rotary Foundation scholarship to study abroad and earned an LL.M. degree at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Nguyen practiced law in Indianapolis before returning to IU to earn a Ph.D.in education policy.

“Teaching higher education law and higher education management really meshes all three areas I’ve studied: law, business and education,” he said. “It’s like I’ve come full circle.”

Catherine (Nichols) Corsaro, ’14, is associate legal counsel at Pacers Sports & Entertainment. The Terre Haute native came straight to law school after earning her undergraduate degree in English at IU-Bloomington. Sports law was not top of mind for Corsaro until she took a class during her second year with Professor Gary Roberts, who was dean of IU McKinney at the time.

Later, Corsaro completed an externship at the NCAA and, shortly after, landed an internship with the Indiana Pacers. Now working full time with the Pacers organization, Corsaro focuses on transactional law, including intellectual property, promotional marketing, data privacy and employment law.

“Ultimately, job opportunities come through networking,” she said. “You shouldn’t be afraid to go after those big opportunities and take on challenging tasks with confidence.”

Kania Warbington, ’07, is vice president-director of human resources, and ethics officer at the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis. She earned her M.B.A. from the IU Kelley School of Business in 2012.

Warbington developed an early interest in law, completing a pre-law experience at Notre Dame during high school. She then earned her bachelor’s degree at Ball State before completing the Indiana Conference for Legal Education Opportunity summer institute and enrolling at IU McKinney.

Throughout law school, and even as a law clerk, Warbington kept her job as a server at a local restaurant. She was discouraged from including the waitressing job on her resume, but Warbington — who interned at Meils Thompson Dietz & Berish, the NCAA, the Indiana Office of the Attorney General, and Irwin Union Bank during law school — said her work experiences outside law were key.

“Good customer service is what keeps your clients happy,” she said. “You learn to work with and how to please people of all different backgrounds, learn to adjust to their expectations, and discover what will be effective with each person.” Not a bad lesson for a lawyer who directs a major human resources enterprise!

I could go on, but you get the idea. So, the next time someone asks, “What can you do with a law degree?” you should respond with confidence, “Almost anything!”•

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Andrew R. Klein is the Paul E. Beam Professor of Law and dean of the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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