Dan Fredrickson is an attorney at Kendall, Koenig & Oelsner where he specializes in complex commercial transactions with a focus on technology transactions. On a typical day, he may help a client structure an international distribution agreement for its patented technology, draft an end-user license agreement for a startup that just launched its first website, or negotiate a joint development agreement for a company entering into a strategic partnership. For many of my clients, he serves as an “outside” general counsel. In this role, he is truly able to be a part of the client’s team and assist in all areas of the business.
How did Colorado Law help you in your job search?
Colorado law, and professor Brad Bernthal specifically, were instrumental in my job search. While a 3L in Professor Bernthal’s Entrepreneurial Law Clinic, Brad connected me with his former colleagues, former students, and others in the community that he thought would be willing to meet with me. Many of these connections did the same. Eventually, Professor Bernthal put me in touch with the founder of Tendril who had been looking to fill a spot on his regulatory team. Tendril is a Boulder-based startup that sells energy efficiency software to utility companies. While at Tendril, I was given the opportunity to take on more and more responsibility and prove my value, until eventually I was promoted to be its General Counsel.
While I was at Tendril, I continued trying to build a network and spent a significant amount of time meeting with local lawyers and business leaders who were willing to provide advice and guidance. While doing so, I met with some of the lawyers at Kendall, Koenig & Oelsner. When it turned out that they had a need for someone with my experience they gave me a call.
As a law student at Colorado Law, what courses or practical learning experiences (i.e. internships, clinics) best prepared you for what you are doing now?
A strong legal education was critical to preparing me for what I do on a daily basis. While I draw on many of the courses I took, the classes I found most valuable were those that introduced a more practical approach to the practice of law, and specifically, the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic and Venture Capital: A 360 Degree Perspective.
VC 360 merged law students and business students into a single class. I found the course material valuable, but also found the cross-pollination between law students and business students to be particularly refreshing. I think a large part of practicing law is understanding the perspective of your clients, and I believe that having business students in the class—many of whom were starting businesses of their own—brought a valuable perspective.
Please talk a little about “people skills” and networking specifically. How has your professional network made a difference in your career?
Most people look at networking the wrong way. They think it is about handing out or collecting business cards, and then trying to remember how the person they met can help them. In addition to making for incredibly awkward networking events, this approach is in no way valuable. I believe that networking is really just a formal word for getting to know people in your community—not just meeting them. Those people may be able to help you in your career, you may be able to help them, or neither, but at the very least you are able to connect with someone who likely shares a common interest. These are the people who you’ll remember, the ones who will remember you, and ultimately the relationships that will provide value.
My network has been absolutely critical in my career. Beyond helping me get jobs, individuals in my network have provided incredible advice, opportunities, feedback and general encouragement during law school and since. As an example, I was the only lawyer when I was at Tendril. I knew I needed help from lawyers who could provide practical advice. It was incredible the number of very busy people who were willing to provide their guidance—and I know I wouldn’t be where I am without those resources.
Why did you choose Colorado Law?
Colorado Law is a great place to go to law school for a number of reasons. One of the primary reasons that I chose it was for its entrepreneurial focus. I know I wanted to work with startup companies, and Colorado law literally brings that community into the law school and creates opportunities for students to engage.
I would say that Colorado Law provides a unique opportunity to dig into a blossoming entrepreneurial community early. For those interested in entrepreneurship, start-ups, and business law, Colorado Law is hard to beat.
How did Colorado Law prepare you for your new job?
Without a doubt, though, the most valuable learning experience was the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic. After two years of traditional law school classes, the ELC provided an opportunity to practice law with real clients with fantastic supervision from practicing lawyers. These supervising attorneys not only provided real value, but continue to provide me with guidance, feedback and advice.
Colorado Law helped to provide me with the practical experience necessary to hit the ground running in each job that I had post law school. Clinics are an obvious example, but Colorado Law also makes a habit of using practicing lawyers and even non-lawyers to teach certain classes—which provides a unique and valuable perspective.