Business Boot Camp Celebrates 10th Year of Mixing Instruction and Real-Life Lessons
Law Schools are well known for training students to “think like lawyers,” but in the week commonly known as “semester break” more than 120 Brooklyn Law School students, faculty, and alumni—working in tandem with a team of Deloitte Financial Advisory professionals— gathered for Business Boot Camp, a 4-day crash course designed to help students understand how clients think.
Business Boot Camp, which premiered in 2013 and was held from Jan. 9 to Jan. 12 this year, follows the life cycle of a fictional company as it grows from a family-owned pub into a publicly owned restaurant chain with an appetite for acquisitions.
Students learn how businesspeople work with lawyers as they deal with the growing pains, opportunities, and pitfalls encountered along the way. They learn about developing business plans, budgeting, financing, accounting, valuation, and cryptocurrency. They also work on softer skills, including networking, client development, and leadership. The course is based in part on training that Deloitte provides to new associates at law firms.
The program received many positive reviews, including this one from a second-year student Mitchell Parrish, who will be working as an associate in the corporate department of a firm in summer 2023.
“This experience was one of the most impactful of my life, bar none…I entered the class with the notion that I would learn a few useful bits of information about business,” Parrish said. “By the end of the networking event, I found myself truly excited about the prospect of doing transactional work this summer…The passion coming from the teachers, alums, and other students was contagious. And maybe one day I’ll be able to attend the networking event and pay it forward to future BLS students.”
Board of Trustees member John P. Oswald ’84, president and chief executive officer of Capital Trust Group, and event underwriter, Barry Salzberg, '77, then global CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd., Frederick Curry III ’03, Anti-Money-Laundering and Sanctions Client Leader for the Deloitte Risk & Financial Advisory practice, along with Professor Michael Gerber, developed and introduced Boot Camp in 2013 in collaboration with Deloitte partner Anthony Campanelli.
The program included keynote and Q&A sessions with distinguished graduates whose careers straddle law and business, and lively panel discussions with alumni who arrived straight from the office or, in some cases, flew to New York to present, sharing experiences and practical advice.
The course concluded with breakout sessions in which nearly 100 alumni met students in small groups, followed by a cocktail reception.
Here are some of the highlights:
Frederick Curry III ’03, Anti-Money-Laundering and Sanctions Client Leader for the Deloitte Risk & Financial Advisory practice, said his deep knowledge of financial crimes, particularly money laundering, helped catapult him to partner at Deloitte and made him a go-to media expert.
“Go really deep,” Curry said during a Q&A session with Oswald. “Whatever it is you are interested in, whatever it is you want to do, you have to be the best in it. You have to be an expert. And that is what I attribute my success to.”
In response to a question, Oswald added that those still figuring out what they are most passionate about should consider a larger law or financial services firm after graduating. “If you’re coming out of school and you go to a big firm, you’ve got to move from department to department and you can figure out where you fit,” said Oswald.
Gloria Greco ’98 spoke to students about her role as chief compliance officer at Bank of America Merrill Lynch during a lunchtime Q&A with Gerber.
One challenge she regularly faced: business partners who wanted to do things that did not align with her efforts to ensure the company stayed in compliance with financial services industry regulations. Tempers rose and the language got salty during these conversations, but she held her ground, Greco said.
“You have to be able to advocate for your position; you have to be able to convince other people,” Greco said. “The critical way to do that is to have confidence and convey that confidence when you’re talking to people.”
Her student experience at Brooklyn Law School instilled that confidence in her, Greco said, because she had to learn how to analyze situations, articulate her point of view, develop writing skills, and gain the ability to see both sides of a situation. Her way into conversations in a male-dominated field was to ask numerous questions and use the information garnered to bolster her viewpoint, she explained.
“All of those things really make you much stronger in your ability to convey your ideas to other people,” Greco said.
Stuart Subotnick ’68, Brooklyn Law School’s Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Trustees, shared advice and war stories in a Q&A with Francis J. Aquila ’83, current Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
Subotnick rose to president and CEO of independent broadcaster Metromedia, famously orchestrating its lucrative turn into becoming the largest non-phone cellular company in the United States in the 1980s. But he nearly didn’t work for Metromedia at all. While working as an IRS auditor, he answered a blind ad for a job he was not precisely qualified for to prepare federal tax returns. The Metromedia recruiter wanted to hire him on the spot, but Subotnick humbly declined after learning he was the first interviewee, insisting the interviewer speak to others. His wife was furious with Subotnick, but a week later, he got what turned out to be a very lucky call from the Metromedia recruiter whose gravelly voice Subotnick imitated, to laughter from the audience: “Are you ready now?”
That call changed his life, and Subotnick advised students to be open to unexpected opportunities.
“Luck will always come to you,” Subotnick said. “The question is, do you take advantage of the luck or are you not willing to even explore or investigate?”
Several alumni served as course presenters. Yamicha Stephenson ’12, senior manager of Deloitte's Anti-Money-Laundering & Sanctions Practice, attended the first Boot Camp and helped present this year’s “Introduction to Accounting Basics & Interpreting Financial Statements.” Aubria Ralph ’19, an associate at Weil, Gotshal & Manges’ Banking and Finance Group, was one of the presenters on “Debt Financing.” Nick Kaluk ’11, counsel at Debevoise & Plimpton, was an instructor on “Valuation.”
During the Boot Camp, students shared that it helped round out their legal studies.
“I don’t have any real experience within the business world, and I wanted the opportunity to get a crash course, to demystify it,” said Shannon Herman ’24. “If this is something that comes up in my career, I just want to be prepared.”
For Morgan Kashinsky ’24, it was important to have a chance to hear from women working in both business and law, and she appreciated the mix of classroom lectures and alumni speakers.
“I would recommend it for anyone interested in corporate law,” Kashinsky said. “They found a ton of opportunities throughout the boot camp to make sure we were really engaged.”
View photos from the Business Boot Camp.