One breezy April morning, I hesitantly passed under Vanderbilt Hall’s signature arches, unsure if these marble stones would be a place to entrust my intellectual identity. I had came to interview for the Jacobson Leadership Program in Law and Business, a unique track that equips students with business and legal skills beyond the traditional law school training. At the time, I was a consultant for institutional clients, with one non-profit stint on the side. I was convinced that there must be a way to combine my interests in law, business and social entrepreneurship; yet no idea how to achieve synergy.

Puzzle piece *

To my surprise, the program’s co-directors Professor Helen Scott and Professor Gerald Rosenfeld were not at all taken aback at my confession. They had encountered my kind many times before. The program, they explained, is designed precisely to create synergy of those puzzle pieces. Through joint classes with students from Stern School of Business, one-on-one mentorship with attorneys and business leaders, and year-long individualized research projects, Jacobson scholars develop their own network and niche in the globalized crossroads of law and business.

As part of the program, I benefit from frequent check-ins with Helen and Jerry, monthly events with notable speakers such as Laurie Ferber, former counsel and managing director of Goldman Sachs, and Benjamin Stone, an Orrick-associate-turned-NGO-founder of Indego Africa (upcoming on November 16). Not to mention a welcoming event at Citi Field in a private suite, graciously donated to us that evening by an NYU trustee, and catered by the famous Shake Shack, long-known to serve New York’s best burger.

Dean's Day at Citi Field

Dean's Day at Citi Field, picture courtesy of Ari Bayme '12

The best perk of the Jacobson program to me is the freedom to revel in my own aspiration, while enjoying unconditional support and guidance from the directors and staff. With long-standing interest in international organizations, I decided to pursue an internship with the U.N. next summer, and received full blessings and eager advices from Helen and Jerry. Law school, as you might have read elsewhere, can be a lonely place, where the mind struggles to understand long-standing, ever-evolving wisdom of the law. Knowing that the open arms of Helen, Jerry and previous scholars are always behind me infuses immense confidence and comfort. It is, in fact, the reason why I chose NYU Law, and why I have been grateful ever since.

So you, yes you bright-eyed prospective students, remember that those 500-word essays on page 4 of the application are small investments to make upfront in exchange for amazing intellectual, professional and personal returns. Best of luck to Class of 2014 with your applications, and I hope to see you in Vanderbilt Hall one breezy April day next spring.

* Photo by Justin D. Henry, CC 2.0.

This entry was written by and posted on November 11, 2010.
The entry was filed under these categories: Admissions, Faculty, Scholarship

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5 comments on “Law and Business: Finding a Program that Combined My Interests
  1. Hien Nguyen says:

    Dear Mae and all,

    I appreciate your law school story. What an exciting path you are taking and congratulations. I, for one, love the nobility of the legal profession and the courageous advocacy of lawyers so much.

    But I wonder if there are possible source(s) of funding in terms of fellowship or work-study opportunity for international students. I did some research and see that students usually take big loans and the scholarship is for domestic applicants only. Is that true?

    Thank you very much,


  2. Trang (Mae) Nguyen says:

    Hi Hien,

    Thank you for your interest. Law school is indeed a big investment for U.S. and international students alike. Fortunately, fundings do exist. Many schools give need-based aids (international students qualify), and many dedicate specific merit-based scholarship to aspiring lawyers. Examples include the Darrow scholarship (full-tuition plus stipend) from UMichigan, the Dean Scholarship from Cornell (full-tuition), and of course, NYU’s scholarship programs for all possible interests: In fact, NYU is one of the few schools whose scholarships are open for every applicant. Fellowships such as the Darrow and the Dean’s Scholarship, on the other hand, are by invitation-only after pre-screening by the admission committee.

    Additionally, even if upfront investment is required, law students who want to pursue public interest careers can often get their debt waived after a period of service. You can find more information about NYU’s program here: This of course differs from place to place, so make sure you confirm with the school’s financial office.

    Hope this helps,
    – Mae

  3. Hien Nguyen says:

    Thanks Mae for your insightful information.

  4. Ben Duval says:

    Hi Mae,

    I too am intrigued by the Jacobson Leadership program and its unique fusion of law and business. Reading your story has only reaffirmed my desire to participate in the program; however, I do realize that positions in this program are extremely competitive to secure. Your credentials, three years in economics and management consulting in addition to co-founding a non-profit organization, are very impressive and I can see why you would earn a spot in the program.

    I will graduate this spring with a degree in mechanical engineering and I participated in several internships and co-op within different industries. During my work experience, I realized that my interests lie more so in the business aspect of industry than in product design and research. I also spent a summer in a pre-law program where I interned under several lawyers, and I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in law firms. Next fall, I want to attend NYU and participate in the Jacobson Leadership program because it will be an excellent way to combine my interests in law and business. Basically, I want to know if passion for the program and a tenacious drive to participate in it can compensate for my somewhat limited real world experience, and if there is any advice you can give to someone aspiring to participate in the Jacobson Leadership Program.


  5. Hi Ben,

    Thank you for your interest in the Jacobson program! In order to accurately answer your question, I consulted with the program directors, and the response is as followed.

    The Jacobson selection committee is looking for students with passion, interests in law and business, and potentials to contribute to the Jacobson community in particular, and NYU community at large. Now, “interest in law and business” is not narrowly defined towards a career path in corporation (though that is certainly a part), but covers broad fields that require both legal and business savvy. I, for example, am fascinated by legal and economic development; another friend wants to explore legal frameworks to help corporations build socially responsible practices.

    So, to find these potential students, the committee looks for evidence of your leadership and achievements at whatever you did, regardless of the nature and length of the experience. So even if you have not had full-time experience, your many internships and campus involvements can still make you a highly qualified candidate. And your background in engineering can further set you apart. Your job is to bring out those qualities, how they fit with your interests, and how law school and the Jacobson in particular, can help you achieve your goals.

    If you have other specific questions about the program or the application, please feel free to email me at Professor Helen Scott will also be happy to answer any inquiry related to the Jacobson; her email address is

    I hope this is helpful!
    – Mae

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