Paul Arnold recalls hosting and attending dinner parties several times a week while he was a student at Michigan Law. "They were were always lively, fun discussions with interesting people," he said.
The camaraderie Arnold shared with his peers was a highlight of his years at Michigan. "I talked to friends who went to law school in Boston, New York, or other places, and their experiences were not the same," he said. "That's a really interesting thing about a community that is so tightknit—the relationships become much more meaningful, and I found that to be a unique Michigan trait among its peers. In hindsight, it was one of the best things about my Law School experience."
Arnold—a 2003 graduate of the University of Utah, where he received a BA, with honors, in economics and philosophy—entered Michigan Law as a Darrow Scholar in 2005 after teaching math in New York through Teach For America. Teach For America was a continuation of Arnold's community service activities at Utah, where he spent 20 hours a week volunteering and serving as president of the community service center on campus.
At one point in his undergraduate career, Arnold thought he wanted to be a philosophy professor. He decided, though, to enter law school after being inspired by letters written by his great-grandfather, a law professor who specialized in antitrust law. Arnold was impressed with what his great-grandfather accomplished in his career and wanted something that was equally meaningful.
The Michigan Difference
At Michigan, Arnold helped to found the Business Law Association, served on the Michigan Journal of Law Reform, and was a John M. Olin Fellow of Law and Economics. Though he entered Michigan thinking he would follow his grandfather's path and pursue antitrust law, Arnold soon became interested in venture capital and startups, taking "a fair amount of corporate law and securities law."
"I tried to have broad interests, and didn't do a traditional track," he noted. "It was an exploration of interests for me; being a traditional lawyer wasn't something I wanted."
Life After Law School
The summer before his 2L year, Arnold clerked for Judge Michael McConnell (now a Stanford Law professor) on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Before his 3L year, he was a summer associate at Latham & Watkins, where he practiced start-up and venture capital law. After receiving his JD from Michigan Law in 2008, Arnold joined McKinsey & Company as a management consultant in Palo Alto, California, where he worked for four years. He then handled business operations and marketing for the technology startup AppDirect before founding Switch Ventures, which helps entrepreneurs grow their companies, in January 2014.
"It's rewarding to see my thinking translated into a bigger, stronger company every week," Arnold said, "and to use the skills I learned in management consulting to think through new business problems."
The Darrow Scholarship
Arnold said his time at Michigan was "golden, from beginning to end," and he remains proud of being a Darrow Scholar to this day. "There was something about being offered the Darrow Scholarship that was extremely flattering, and I was proud of it and remain proud of it," he said. "It was the peak of my academic accomplishments and is very meaningful to me."
Story written by Lori Atherton.
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