When you are interested in learning about all areas of a business, like 3L Jack Amaral, a good place to complete a law externship is a technology start-up like Ostra Cybersecurity. The entrepreneurial nature of an emerging business provides the perfect environment where a student can gain hands-on experience and a wide breadth of knowledge about business law, but also the different aspects of operating and growing a company.
“I'm technically a legal extern, but I inserted myself into the financial and business side of Ostra,” Amaral said. “I'm interested in understanding how a business runs based on the numbers rather than solely working on legal issues that come up in a start-up.”
Amaral was placed at Ostra Cybersecurity as part of St. Thomas Law’s Legal Externship Program, which offers law students the opportunity to explore different career areas and provides them with relevant professional experience. The Minnetonka-based company is co-owned by St. Thomas Law alumnus Joe Johnson ’07 J.D./MBA, who is also the organization’s president.
As an extern, Amaral reviewed contracts, assisted in identifying potential investors and helped analyze financial statements. He also gave input on potential acquisitions for another one of Johnson’s businesses, Noble, a long-term holding company focused on founder and owner-operated businesses in the Midwest.
“My favorite experience was being part of the financial forecasting meetings and learning about how a balance sheet and income statement actually tell a lot about the health of a company,” Amaral said. “I don't have a background in business, but I'm very motivated to learn and understand to help me become a great business lawyer.”
Amaral says the Representing Entrepreneurs course he took as a 2L with Professor Dennis Monroe helped to prepare him for his externship.
“On one of my first days I was asked to investigate a certain type of financing to help bridge a start-up between where they are now and the time where they do a large fundraise or Series A,” Amaral said. “I normally would have no idea where to start, but because I took Representing Entrepreneurs this past spring, I understood what type of debt this required and how to structure it. I never would have understood if I didn't take Professor Monroe’s class.”
While he doesn’t necessarily see himself working for a cybersecurity company or technology start-up in the future, Amaral says his externship was extremely valuable. “I came into the experience knowing Ostra is a start-up and I'm very interested in understanding how businesses at each stage operate,” Amaral said. “I want to understand how acquisitions work in the real world and the steps needed to complete one. I want to be able to really understand how a client's business operates, so I can help them as best I can in the future.”