The Professor Who Changed the Trajectory of My Career

Lauren, a white woman with long brown hair, wears a black turtleneck.By Lauren Jones 

I came into law school having no interest in commercial law. So, how did I spend the past summer in Rome drafting international factoring law at a prestigious international institution? How did I get the opportunity to spend my fall break presenting at the 14th Annual Transnational Commercial Law Professor Conference? The answer: an outstanding professor who believed in me and taught me how commercial law can be more than it seems.

During my first week of 1L, the older students warned me about Professor Gabriel. I was told he was an “old-school” law professor with high expectations for his students. Hence, I was nervous when winter term came around because I had him for Contracts. Going into the first class, I was expecting someone who would do his thing and leave, not caring whether or not we understood the material. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. It was evident from the first day that, although his humor was extremely dry, he cared about the material and hoped we would, too. As the trimester continued, I knew I would take every class he offered. Fast forward one year and two more classes with Professor Gabriel: it was my 2L Winter trimester, and I figured I would ask Professor Gabriel how to get involved in this field of law. He asked me if I had an internship lined up for the summer and if I was open to international travel.

Lauren, a white woman with golden brown hair, wears a white shirt and black jacket and is smiling. She sits at a wood podium.

After a speedy interview process set up by Professor Gabriel, I was offered a position as an intern at the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT) in Rome, Italy. I was to help the working group finalize the Model Law on Factoring (MLF), which will be used to help modernize existing factoring laws and assist developing countries in establishing their own factoring laws. The MLF creates an easier way to access financing worldwide, making it more possible for minority and women-owned businesses to thrive. I worked on something world-changing, and my coworkers were some of the most brilliant minds in the world. Discussing our thoughts on different areas of law was one of the most rewarding experiences because it allowed me to learn from different perspectives. Being in Rome for the summer and working for UNIDROIT already changed the trajectory of my life, but it would not end there.

A group of program participants stands outside with foliage behind them. Lauren is pictured in the middle and is wearing a blue dress.

About a week after I landed stateside, I received an email from Professor Gabriel joking that he hoped I wasn’t planning on relaxing during my fall break (I wasn’t) because he wanted me to give a presentation on the MLF at the Transnational Commercial Law Professor Conference. To say I felt underqualified is a colossal understatement. The people in that room were not only experts in the law but also the ones who wrote it. However, I should not have been surprised because they were as supportive and excited to see a student grow as Professor Gabriel was.

In the future, after I work in the field for a bit, I want to teach the law. I hope to make an impact on my students just like Professor Gabriel, even if people call me “old-school.”