Mike Dornik came to Colorado Law seeking a job in Colorado’s technology law sector. He left with that and a web of useful skills and connections which not only landed him his job but have also enhanced his work.
Tell us a little about your work. What do you do, and what might a “typical” work day look like?
I'm corporate counsel at Webroot. Webroot works in the cybersecurity space and is constantly innovating. So a "typical" day depends on the week or month. For the most part, however, I focus on technology licensing, corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, distribution contracts, privacy, legal research, and a normal grab-bag of corporate law practice projects that need to happen for a company of Webroot's size. Luckily, Webroot is growing rapidly, so the legal team has more work than we can finish in a single day.
How did you find your job?
A classmate of mine from law school, Julie Simmons (’14), worked at Webroot as corporate counsel and recommended me to Webroot's legal team.
How did Colorado Law help you in your job search?
Julie Simmons and I worked on the Deming Center Venture Fund together, were involved in Silicon Flatirons events, and started law school at the same time. Ryan Howe (’07), our general counsel, is a Colorado Law alum as well. My boss, Alex Reinhardt, also attended CU as an undergraduate. Because Ryan Howe is involved in Colorado Law, he met and hired Julie Simmons, which later led to my hiring. If Phil Weiser and Brad Bernthal (’01) had not built the program they did that allowed these types of interactions to take place, I wouldn't work at Webroot.
What skills do you utilize on a daily basis, and how did your experiences or courses at Colorado Law help you develop these skills?
Contract drafting, negotiating, legal writing, time management, critical thinking, knowledge of technology, and finance knowledge are all generally very helpful. Legal research skills are also extremely important to being an in-house counsel that also produces sophisticated legal work.
CU's practical learning classes and clinics were fantastic for preparing me to start working out of law school. I recommend every law student take as many as possible. Those classes gave me a huge head start when I started working as a lawyer.
Unlike most law schools, I also learned a lot about technology and began taking basic technology courses at CU. I now use MOOCs [Massive Open Online Courses] and other online resources, but CU's classes gave me the encouragement to start.
Please talk a little about “people skills” and networking specifically. How has your professional network made a difference in your career?
Starting with networking, I'd say that networking is necessary for any career that involves working with other people. Thus, it's a necessary skill for almost all careers. If a person cares about something, then it's not usually a burden to be around people that care about the same thing. Being genuine, showing interest, and being a good person go a long way in networking. Ideally, it's not really "networking," it's just being around other people that are interested in the same things you're interested in.
What advice would you give to current students with respect to finding a job?
Keeping at it and trying to be better every day are the keys. A job will come. More important is what you do after you get a job. Put in an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. You're not entitled to anything. Working hard, trying to be better, focusing on the daily work instead of where it will lead, and trying to do the right thing are, in the worst case, good enough goals alone.
If you were to recommend Colorado Law to a potential law student, what would you say?
Colorado Law was a great place to learn the law. The Colorado business community is very open to those willing to put in the work. If you want to work in Colorado, come to Colorado Law. All I can say is that Colorado Law was the best place for me to go.
Why did you choose Colorado Law?
I wanted to work in technology law and in Colorado. Colorado Law offered both of those things like no one else did. Being attached to a large university that is a hub of innovation is extremely valuable. When I visited here, it felt like the place that I should be. I believe it was and still is.
To see more Promising Starts: www.colorado.edu/law/careers/career-paths/promising-starts