Without the Darrow Scholarship, Kelsey Arnold might not have gone to law school, she said. "I was one of those students—there are probably more than there should be—who didn't have a particularly clear idea of what I would do with a law degree. I was nervous about the cost of law school and a bit on the fence about what I should do. The Darrow was a clear push—including financially, but also as a validation that someone at least thought that this was something I could be good at."
As an undergraduate, Arnold spent a year at Sciences Po in Paris studying economics. She developed her French fluency, too—which she later bolstered by taking a French class while at Michigan Law. Like her undergraduate years, her time at Michigan Law included an experiential learning component. "I had a bit of an unusual path through law school. I took a year off after my 1L year to figure out what I really wanted to do with a law degree."
Arnold wound up spending nearly five months in California working on a farm—the furthest thing from attending law school imaginable. A chance meeting of a Michigan alumnus at the San Francisco International Airport—both were wearing Michigan sweatshirts—led to an offer to intern in the U.S. Attorney's office for Northern California. She accepted the internship and worked in the tax litigation division. "I discovered that I really enjoyed tax work. When I got back to Michigan a year later I took every tax class offered!" As a 3L, she spent a semester doing an externship, supervised by Professor Doug Kahn, with the Tax Appellate Section of the U.S. Department of Justice—which wound up being the subject of her thesis.
Following graduation, Arnold started working at Mayer Brown in Chicago on tax controversy and transfer pricing issues. She then moved to Geneva, where she joined PricewaterhouseCoopers as a transfer pricing manager until 2015, at which time she joined Ralph Lauren, also in Geneva.As tax director at Ralph Lauren, Arnold is responsible for tax provisioning and compliance issues in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), and global transfer pricing for North America, the Asian Pacific region, and EMEA. "I really enjoy the variety of my work. My job is not specifically legal—within the realm of tax I do a mix of compliance and planning, so I have the luxury of looking both backwards and forwards." She provides advice on how best to advance the business based on its history, which she finds fascinating. She also enjoys the wide geographic region she covers, calling it "eye-opening."
Arnold credits her Darrow for enabling her to take that year off during law school so she could explore her interests without worrying about debt. "The funder of my particular grant told us that the idea of 'grace,' in the Christian sense, was very important to him. Grace is a gift that we may deserve but we don't control, and that arrives when we may least expect it. I believe the Darrow really was like an act of grace in my life—I had no expectation of receiving such a gift, and it opened up possibilities that I never imagined. I am not a particularly religious person, but I appreciate what the funder meant and I [now] understand how powerful grace can be.”
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