Master of Studies in Law Student Spotlight: Brianna Rice

March 1, 2017

When Brianna Rice pictured her postgraduate future two years ago, she had no doubt that law school would play a role. However, it wasn’t until she was accepted to the University of Colorado Law School’s Master of Studies in Law (MSL) program that she realized her law school journey might look slightly different than she originally imagined.

As a student in Colorado Law’s one-year MSL in Ethics and Compliance program, Rice takes classes designed specifically to introduce non-JD students to the American legal system and legal research, writing, and analysis. In addition, she takes required and elective classes that are part of the law school curriculum alongside JD students.

Working with readily accessible faculty and a small cohort of MSL classmates, Rice felt right at home at Colorado Law, where she could get a law school experience without the three-year commitment.

She will graduate in May prepared to enter the booming field of ethics and compliance. She even has a full-time job lined up at the international company ON Semiconductor. Working under the compliance officer and risk management officer, she will train the company’s compliance liaisons around the world about different risks that occur in their field. The rest of the year, she will work out of ON Semiconductor’s headquarters in Phoenix.

Rice didn’t always know she would end up here, though. As a criminal justice and criminology major at Metro State University, she had never heard of ethics and compliance as a potential career—let alone the fact that risk and compliance staff are some of the most sought-after professionals worldwide.

When she was wait-listed at her top law school, she began researching other options with the hope of preparing herself for a future JD. She came across Colorado Law’s MSL program, and with no LSAT or entrance exam required, Rice was able to apply immediately.

“I didn’t want to wait to continue my education. When I came across the MSL, I realized it would be a good foot in the door,” Rice said. “Once I started the program, I fell in love with ethics and compliance. I decided that I didn’t want to go to law school after all and that this was the field for me.”

“If you’re interested in law, or any type of career in the legal field, this program is the best way to get the experience,” she continued. “Not only are there plentiful job opportunities after you graduate, but you get the experience of being in law school. The MSL degree is a great way to further your education and learn so much about a field that is booming.”

Five Questions for Brianna

What has been your favorite class?

My favorite class was Legislation and Regulation with Professor Helen Norton alongside JD students. It’s really interesting to see how many different perspectives go into making the laws—whether it’s the court or the agencies. It’s going to be super useful in the future to know how laws are made, no matter what industry I’m working in.

How did Colorado Law help you in your job search?

My first semester as an MSL student, I was invited by Professor Amy Bauer to attend the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative Consortium Summit in Salt Lake City part of the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative at Colorado Law. It was there that I met Sonny Cave (’85), executive vice president, general counsel, chief compliance & ethics officer, chief risk officer, and corporate secretary of ON Semiconductor. I spoke with him about externship opportunities, which ultimately led to the creation of a full-time position, which I was offered and accepted!

The professors were also an incredible resource. They have set up a bunch of interviews for my classmates to help them find externships. Professor Bauer and Professor John Francis met with me several times before the interview ON Semiconductor to help with my resume and interview prep. Each helped me enormously.

What do you like about the ethics and compliance field?

How much you can do within the ethics and compliance industry. From research to training—it’s such a diverse industry. It’s fun to see how all the parts tie together to create systems so that scandals don’t happen in companies.

It’s an easy field to be passionate about. At the Summit, I heard people in the field talk about how much they love what they do. It’s really comforting knowing that this is a job and industry you can feel good about.

What was the best experience of your time at Colorado Law?

Attending the Summit. It was eye-opening for me. That’s when it hit me how many different ways the skills I’m learning can go—there were people from every industry there. It made me realize that I can take this degree anywhere. From health care to finance to the semiconductor industry—every industry, companies big and small, need some type of compliance. I didn’t realize until the Summit how true that was.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I would like to eventually run the compliance team of a company. This would involve having everyone trained, putting systems into place, and creating training manuals.

We are now accepting applications for the MSL in Ethics and Compliance program for fall 2017. Learn more and apply here.