BEFORE ATTENDING BROOKLYN LAW
SCHOOL, Andrea Anderson had a thriving career
as a corporate trainer at State Farm Insurance
Company. Her field of study as an undergraduate
at Temple University involved mathematics,
and she graduated with a bachelor of business
administration degree in actuarial science
and risk management. On the job, Anderson
interacted frequently with the company’s
attorneys, which piqued her interest in the law.
“In analyzing contracts, I thought, this would be a
challenging and interesting path,” she said.
Today, Anderson is vice president, real estate, special counsel, global, at WeWork, the nine-year-old startup that defined the coworking industry. WeWork turned the business of coworking—leasing large office spaces and converting them to hip, attractive work areas that are, in turn, rented out to professionals and companies—into an area of rapid growth. WeWork is the single largest private tenant in Manhattan.
“This is an exciting company that is changing the way people work, and I want to be part of that change,” said Anderson. In her role, which she assumed earlier this year, Anderson is responsible for supporting mission-critical initiatives and global transactions.
Anderson credits her father-in-law, Burnside Anderson III ’76, a retired senior corporate counsel, legal division, at Pfizer, and a member emeritus of Brooklyn Law School’s Board of Trustees, for his influence and support in her decision to pursue a J.D. She enrolled in the Law School’s four-year program, which allowed her to attend school at night and work during the day. “My father-in-law told me Brooklyn would give me excellent training to become a practicing lawyer,” she said, “and he was right.”
As a law student, Anderson worked with Professor Debra Bechtel at the Corporate and Real Estate Clinic. The clinic provides free, nonlitigation legal assistance for low-income cooperatives, also known as Housing Development Fund Corporations (HDFCs), where many of New York City’s affordable units are found. “I found the work rewarding, and it helped me develop a good palette of practical skills in addition to my work experience,” said Anderson, who, along with other clinic students, assisted the HDFCs with loan closings, corporate governance, shareholder meetings, unit closings, and other matters on behalf of the co-op boards.
Her passion for this area of law was further fueled at Proskauer Rose, where she worked for two summers during law school, joining the firm as an associate after graduation. “I fell in love with real estate there,” she said. “Unlike litigation, real estate is tangible. It’s an asset you can walk by and see.”
After eight years at Proskauer, Anderson joined the Rockefeller Group as senior counsel in 2013. The Rockefeller Group has a 90-year history and is known for pioneering large-scale urban mixed-use development in New York and nationwide. “When I started working in-house, it was a good synergy,” she said. “I could use my pre-law school experience, and I enjoyed working on all legal aspects of transactions, including intellectual property issues.”
The training Anderson received at Brooklyn Law School remains essential to her career. “What I loved about my experience was the emphasis on the practical realities of the law, and not just the theoretical,” she said. “Brooklyn has a special place in my heart because I had professors who really cared about my success.”
The Law School also helped foster Anderson’s interest in public service. She serves on the board of directors of Urban Pathways, a nonprofit dedicated to ensuring that homeless and at-risk New Yorkers have access to housing, services, and the support they need to be self-sufficient. As a member of the Law School’s Women’s Leadership Circle, she is also passionate about sharing her career wisdom and experience with other alumnae and current students.
Anderson urged law students to stay curious and always ask questions. “Know the value of what you don’t know,” she advised. “Learn from others and listen to how they got to where they are.”
—by Elaine Friedman