Last Friday, a field not always considered by aspiring businessmen took center stage at Huntsman Hall — corporate law.
For the afternoon, College and Wharton students alike came together for the first annual Wharton Business Law Conference, learning from some of the nation’s top law firm partners and executives about the practice and importance of business law.
This was the first ever undergraduate business law conference in the country, said Jenny Lee, vice president of marketing for the Wharton Business Law Association, which hosted the event.
WBLA is a group that focuses on issues relevant to business and law in today’s society. It also provides an alternative career path for Penn students interested in merging their passion for business with law.
“Business law is at the crux of smooth functioning of businesses,” Lee said in an email, “so it is a particularly relevant topic for those going into careers in business.”
The group won the Wharton Council Event Competition — an annual competition that offers funding for events put on by Wharton-oriented groups — with their proposal for the conference.
The conference opened with a keynote address from Tim Geishecker, senior counsel in the Office of International Affairs at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Along with a discussion of his life achievements, Geishecker stressed the integration between business and law. The mutual relationship between these fields is a crucial tenet of the Wharton Business Law Association and was a major theme of the conference.
As a 1988 College and Wharton graduate, Geishecker represented a successful integration of liberal arts, law and business. After graduating with a dual degree in business and Spanish, Geishecker went on to use both degrees as a corporate lawyer for the SEC, focusing on international economic regulation in Latin America.
Nicolas Posada, a sophomore in the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business, discussed this intersection between business and law.
Posada, who is interested in pursuing a career in the public sector, said that he is “looking forward to understanding how law and business are interconnected.”
Students also attended panels led by prominent corporate lawyers, some of whom are Penn graduates. The panels approached such fields as mergers and acquisitions, antitrust law, intellectual property and the financial crisis. The panels aimed to show the wide and diverse range of career opportunities in corporate law. By sharing many personal stories, the lawyers gave students insight the life of a corporate lawyer.
In addition, many professional lawyers in attendance offered their acquaintance to students hoping to network.
Wharton sophomore Mina Saudagaran, who plans to attend law school in the future, said the most important part of the conference was to “hear about the speakers’ and panelists’ background, how they got to where they are and the challenges they faced during the way.”
Wharton sophomore Peter Tian found “what made [Penn graduates] decide to go into law in the end” particularly interesting. This “personal connection” for him and many others gave attendees a possible model for their future careers.
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