On February 28, 2019 the Temple Business Law Society and the Temple Tax and Bankruptcy Law Society hosted an event with Dan Werther (LAW ’86) which was moderated by Professor Olufunmilayo Arewa. At the event Werther talked about his journey to Temple, his career, and advice for law students and young lawyers.
Werther began his journey to law school the same way many students do, by setting his sights on medical school. Werther was a biology major at Swarthmore College and, after studying for the MCAT and doing well on the reading comprehension portion of the test, he began teaching the LSAT for Kaplan. This is where Werther realized he preferred reading and writing and decided to take the LSAT and go to law school. Werther chose Temple because of its location in Philadelphia.
As an attorney, Werther represented large financial institutions and developers in the construction and financing of real estate projects. He then left the practice of law to work with MacAndrews & Forbes as an executive at Marvel Entertainment, the superhero-based entertainment juggernaut. After his time at Marvel, he went on to work for Susquehanna International group and eventually purchased Sorbee International, a sugar-free candy maker, for his own account. Currently, he is a partner with two other colleagues at Stone Bay Capital, an investment firm that they formed several years ago.
Professor Arewa asked Werther about the private equity market in Philadelphia. Werther explained that private equity is an older and more established area in comparison to venture capital. Venture capital is such an attractive area for young lawyers and law students because of the familiarity young people have with the rapidly developing technology in this area. Although there are a lot of opportunities in venture capital, there aren’t as many available to young lawyers who are fresh out of law school. For law students interested in entering the venture capital area, Werther stressed the importance of learning about the industry.
Werther also gave broad advice for law students, such as the importance of networking, accepting failure, and remaining flexible. As to networking, he said Linked-In is a great resource. Werther noted that often, there are different sub-networks for specific fields, so it’s important to read publications that talk about the area a young lawyer may be interested in. By reading related publications, one can start to learn the jargon of the area, the important people, and hopefully find job opportunities. In-person networking is also invaluable and can help one get immersed into their targeted legal community or field.
No one likes to fail, but it is a part of life, but it is a part of life that you shouldn’t fear, Werther observed. He stressed that one can’t succeed without trying, even though some of those attempts may end in failure. No matter where you are, you need to be willing to try new things and risk failure.
Werther then talked about mistakes he made during his career and how he was able to learn from them and improve. Werther said that lawyers should try not to get pigeon-holed but should remain open to new opportunities. Hand-in-hand with remaining flexible is ensuring you have time to pursue hobbies outside of your legal career. Werther stated that a lot of venture capitalists or entrepreneurs will find themselves pursuing what used to be a hobby as a full-time career.
Werther closed the event by encouraging law students to take advantage of business law courses. He urged students to take a wide range of classes in order to get a taste for a new field and discover what they enjoy and are passionate about. Figuring out your passion is important, he said, because that is where you’ll have the most success; once you figure out your passion, it will be easier for you to find your career path. Professor Arewa echoed Werther’s suggestions and highlighted how important it is to find things you enjoy both within the legal field and in your private life.
Ayana Bowman (LAW ’20) is a student editor for the 10-Q and writes about Temple Law events. She is the Editor-in-Chief of Volume 34 of the Temple International and Comparative Law Journal.