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Brian Wolgast: Incorporating a Passion for Business into Law

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From Business to Emerging Companies Law 

Like many of us – Brian’s journey to becoming a lawyer involved change and self-discovery. His first degree in finance and work experience as a Summer Financial Analyst made him realize he was heading down a track that wasn’t right for him. While he still enjoys the practical nature of business problems, he was keen to explore the different career paths available where his skills would best apply. 

While caddying for a Big Law firm partner, Brian was introduced to the idea that “law firms are a big business, there is more to it than just lawyers and there might be some interesting opportunities for me to explore.”

The idea of working in a large law firm piqued his curiosity – and he secured a position at Latham & Watkins as a Practical Development intern where he got his “first introduction to transactional law.” This turned into a full-time position at the firm as a Business Development Specialist in Emerging Companies for almost 3 years. From there, he made the leap to go to law school and completed an internship with L Catterton. 

Learning the Ins and Outs of Corporate Law 

Brian discovered Forage through Latham & Watkins’ social media and was excited to try the Emerging Companies Virtual Experience Program. He struck up a good balance between Forage and school as he notes,  “the program helped take my mind off finals, in a way that still felt productive and beneficial to my career.”

Even though Brian had significant experience from working at Latham and in the legal industry already – he noted some of the features of the program that made it particularly useful to decide what to do next: 

“In general, I learned a lot of new concepts. I’ve heard these terms thrown around during meetings but never fully understood what they meant. [Because of Forage], I was able to learn more about legitimate, functional legal concepts and how they impact clients.”

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“I particularly appreciated the part at the end where they provide a sample of what an actual Latham attorney would have done, someone who does this for a living, what good work would look like so I could compare and contrast my own work product.” 

On top of learning practical skills, Brian explains that being able to more clearly understand what it is like to work on tangible legal tasks within the Emerging Companies practice “confirmed that these are interesting concepts to me and that this is a career path that I can see myself going down long-term.” Working on the same projects that an actual attorney would complete provided him with invaluable experience.

“You’re not going to know if you enjoy doing something until you do it”

Brian strongly believes that “if you think you are interested in something, you should go give it a try before you lock yourself down in that field” while noting how Forage’s programs give you the opportunity to do just that. If you have a feeling you are interested in something, giving it a test run could be very beneficial to ensure you do not waste your time doing something you don’t love. 

He recommends the Latham & Watkins program specifically for first-year law students, “especially because the first year of law is so litigation focused, I think it would give a first-year law student the opportunity to see if corporate law is actually interesting to them.”

Connect with Brian on Linkedin here.

Follow Forage on LinkedIn here.