Can you tell us about how you started a company during your time as a student at GW Law and how that experience shaped your career?
Early in my first year I could tell that I was not going to be a conventional law student. So, I took the GMAT and enrolled in GW Law’s joint degree program with the business school to get my MBA. There, I met two classmates who, like me, had an entrepreneurial itch to scratch. A few months later we started the first probiotic beverage company in D.C. Looking back, I’m not sure how we took this on and managed to graduate.
The experience touched me in a few ways: feeling the magic of translating an idea into reality, the highs and lows of being in business partnership with others, the audacity required to take the road less travelled, and how a law degree serves you in good stead during difficult times.
Can you tell us more about the work you’re doing today and how you came to be in your current position?
I was working as in-house counsel at Uber during its ‘let’s take over the world’ phase. The company was the poster child of Silicon Valley success. I learned a ton in a short amount of time, which was great. But, at some point, I couldn’t escape the feeling that I didn’t enjoy what I was doing, the culture of the company was unacceptable, and I was starting to feel unwell.
So, I left and found myself on a winding inquiry into wellbeing, my own and workplace culture at large. This led me to my second company, Murmur. Our initial focus was creating health & wellness experiences for professionals spending a lot of time at the office. During the pandemic our product evolved into a technology platform for practitioners serving clients in fields like yoga, fitness, mindfulness, coaching, and nutrition to name a few.
Is there a class or experience during your time as a student that helps you in your career?
Hands down — writing an intellectual property law article with Professor Roger Schechter as my advisor. He was tough on me and completely immune to repeated efforts to charm my way into a good grade.
It was a monastic experience, even by law school standards. I would dread getting drafts back and seeing his red pen tattooed across the pages. “Why are you using a fancy 100 dollar word when a cheap 10 cent one will work fine?” I still think of that today when I’m writing.
Roger was (and still is) direct, hilarious, and brilliant in that no nonsense New York way. He sharpened me as a writer and thinker. And it had results (my article was published by The Copyright Society).
A decade later, I’m grateful that he cared enough to demand more from me.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to yourself as a 1L?
1L is the most grueling year. It’s a pressure cooker, the learning curve is steep, and everyone around you is smart and capable.
So, do your best to focus less on the external measures of success that everyone is obsessing over and focus more on your habits, work ethic, and mindset. These are the only things you can control anyways, and they —not some momentary achievement—are what will serve you over a lifetime, as an attorney and as a human.
Also, take a moment every day, even if it’s 5 minutes, to remember who you are outside of being a law student.
Oh, and do you really need that third cup of coffee? Just take a nap. You’ll feel better. I promise.
Anything else we have missed that you want to share with us? Why is it important to try new things? How do you stay connected with the alumni community?
Law school is one of the few experiences in my life that continues to appreciate over time. It gave me discipline and rigor that I didn’t have before walking through those doors on 20th and H.
I’m grateful for my time at GW Law and the faculty who went above and beyond to nurture me, specifically Dean Monica Monroe, Dean Renee DeVigne, Professor Roger Schechter, and of course, Dean Anne Richard (for taking me off the wait list).
How I stay connected with alumni is by working with them! Jamal Al-Haj (Class of 2012) handles corporate and securities matters for Murmur.