Students Mix With Alumni During Weeklong Business Boot Camp

Students in Brooklyn Law School’s Business Boot Camp completed the curriculum portion of the course Thursday, then capped off the weeklong intensive course with an evening that featured small, personalized breakout sessions and a larger reception with alumni.  

Held during the semester break, Jan. 8 to Jan. 11, the Business Boot Camp enrolled 90 students and is now in its 11th year. It is presented through a collaboration with Deloitte Risk and Financial Advisory (Deloitte) and John P. Oswald ’84, chairman and CEO of Capital Trust Group and a Board of Trustees member. Boot Camp co-founder Professor Michael Gerber, an internationally recognized bankruptcy law expert, is the faculty lead.  

Designed to complement and enhance the Law School's corporate, commercial, and tax law courses, the course syllabus is modeled in part on training that Deloitte has provided to first-year associates at major law firms. The curriculum traces the evolution of a hypothetical business from its founding and initial capitalization to its initial public offering and acquisition of another company.  

Students said they valued the Business Boot Camp opportunity and believe it will help them in their careers.   

John Battaglini ’25, who plans to work in corporate law, said that learning the language of business and how to approach problems were among the course’s helpful components.   

“I think as aspiring lawyers, we are always looking for a bright line rule,” Battaglini said.  “And after three and a half days of this class, I've noticed that there isn't always a correct answer for every situation. It's more about learning holistically what is important and what is not important.”  

Maya Morsli ’26 said that gaining a sense of the vocabulary that transactional lawyers use when talking to people on the business side “is going to be a really helpful jumping off point for talking to other lawyers and eventually hopefully to clients.” What’s more, the course exposed her to different practice areas in the law and helped her better understand what type of law she might want to practice after graduating.  

More than 80 Brooklyn Law School alumni, including partners in major law firms, CEOs, and general counsels of established companies and startups, shared their experiences as successful practitioners and entrepreneurs during panel discussions, Q&As, and interactive breakout sessions. 

XOUT Capital Founder & CEO David Barse ’87, a member of the Law School’s Board of Trustees who spoke in a keynote interview with Joseph Crea Dean David D. Meyer Thursday evening, described how constant learning and perseverance aided his transition from bankruptcy law to the business world.  

These qualities helped him find silver linings during both his legal career in bankruptcy law, which started amid the 1987 stock market crash, and during the financial crisis of 2007-09, when he was in banking.  As a fourth-year associate, when he was still at a law firm, he racked up $1M in billable hours by returning phone calls from bank clients that a supervising partner didn’t have time for and listening carefully.  

“Every one of those clients was a phenomenal education for me. Because they would say things or ask me to do things that helped me learn,” Barse said.  At the same time, he realized that instead of advising banking clients, there were more lucrative opportunities in banking itself.  

After shifting to Wall Street firm as general counsel, he took advantage of the 4 p.m. market close (when the traders on the desk generally headed to the bar) to stay in the office late and learn about the companies they were investing in.  He was CEO of Third Avenue Management in Manhattan for 25 years, before it was sold to a public company.  

“If you continue to persevere, at some point in time, you have to be successful,” Barse said. “I had failures, I had mistakes, but I didn’t let them make me give up.”   

Fred Curry ’03, a Deloitte partner and the anti-money laundering and sanctions client leader for the Deloitte Risk & Financial Advisory practice, shared his career story and advice in a conversation with Oswald.  

 “When you’re at a big firm, everybody is smart. I look for work ethic and native intellectual skills,” Curry said, adding that clients prefer working with people who adjust smoothly to curveball situations.  

During a Q&A, he and Oswald shared tips for students seeking to stand out in a hybrid work environment: Seize opportunities to meet managers in person, be it during a project, conference, or one-on-one; be a personable team player whom others will want to work with on marathon projects; and sharpen your writing and communications skills. Curry and Oswald are both boot camp founders, Board of Trustees members, and alumni. 

Among the alumni who helped teach the course is Aubria Ralph ’19, who shared her experience as a banking associate in Big Law during the “Financing the Business: Debt Financing” session with 1901 Distinguished Research Professor of Law Neil Cohen. Ralph had taken Business Boot Camp herself as a student in 2018 and worked most recently at Weil, Gotshal & Manges as a banking associate before founding scrappy girl project. 

“What I loved about Business Boot Camp and why I took it then was, I had absolutely no finance background. I had a general idea of company budgets and financials, but I hadn't delved deeply in and definitely didn't know the legal aspects of it,” said Ralph.  “I loved the ability to not just hear the theoretical and technical, aspects of learning accounting and legal matters, but also, seeing business professional alums come in and talk about their day-to-day experience.”