While developing a paperless requisition process for the FBI as an IT consultant in 2010, Shanita Nicholas ’13 became interested in the way legal processes and business procedures often overlap. The experience, she says, led her to research options for earning a degree in either law or business. When Columbia Law School announced plans to launch its Three-Year J.D./M.B.A Program later that year, Nicholas found she would be able to pursue degrees in both areas.
“Business and law are so interconnected,” she says. “To be able to study them at the same time and merge ideas is wonderful.”
After Nicholas’ second year in the program—her year in-residence at Columbia Business School—she served as a summer associate in the corporate law practice at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, focusing specifically on private equity matters and fund formation. Her business training was invaluable to her success in that role.
“Because of my business background, I was able to engage a lot more with the other associates and partners on the team,” she says. “It made it more intriguing to look at the deals, having prior knowledge of the business world.”
During the past year, Nicholas has worked to build on her business and legal skills. In February, she served as the “lawyer” member of the first-place team at the Business School’s KKR Deal Camp Competition, which is centered on the analysis of a private equity case. Nicholas also served as a research associate at Columbia University’s Office of the President, collecting data on how the University can implement new policies in an effort to support student entrepreneurship.
Upon graduating, Nicholas will become one of the first students to complete the Three-Year J.D./M.B.A. Program. In the fall, she will rejoin Simpson Thacher’s Manhattan office as an associate in the firm’s corporate practice.
“My perspective of the world has changed dramatically since I decided to study law and business,” Nicholas says. “Being able to merge the two in ways that I’ve always thought of them as being related, and seeing how [that relationship] plays out in everyday life outside of academia, has been really interesting.”