The Catholic University of America




Alumni In-House Counsel Extol the Benefits of Their Jobs


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Three Columbus School of Law alumni returned to the Law School on Sept. 26 to speak with current students about the many upsides— and very few downsides—of serving as an in-house counsel within a corporation or company.
Panelists included Karen Grubber, 1992, assistant general counsel with Host Hotels and Resorts and a member of the Law School's Board of Visitors (BOV); Benjamin Roca, 1997, general counsel for the National Electronics Museum and also a member of the BOV, and Scott Stiefel, 2011, general counsel for DrFirst, a Rockville Md. –based company that provides real-time access to patient data.
The returning graduates clearly liked what they do for a living, describing their jobs as “fun” and the “chance to be a generalist, to do a little bit of everything.”
Each presenter recounted in turn the circuitous career path that eventually led to their current post. They also recommended particular classes which provide the most valuable base of knowledge for in-house counsel practitioners.
“Do and learn as much as you can in the contracts area. Remedies, too,” advised Roca, who began his legal career as a federal patent examiner.
The full audience of students tuned in especially closely to Stiefel, who managed the unusual and impressive feat of landing a position as in-house counsel just two years out of Law School. Stiefel attributed part of his success to being in the right place at the right time, but also noted that the reputation of the Law School in the D.C. area helped as well.
“It’s all because of networking and the [excellent] reputation of my classmates,” he said.
Grubber began her career in litigation and even now marvels at the unexpected directions she has taken.

“I never expected that I would be a hospitality lawyer, but I’m a huge fan of being in-house,” she told the students. “If you want to be a generalist, go to a company like mine.”
The career panel discussion was sponsored by the Law Schools’ Office of Career and Professional Development. The alumni speakers were introduced by Nancy Palermo, Class of 1997, who is an attorney recruiting consultant with Garrison and Sisson and also a member of the Law School’s Board of Visitors.