My Chicago Law Moment: Alexander Ghiso, ’98, on Why a JD Matters to a Non-Lawyer

Alexander Ghiso, ’98, worked in finance before law school—and he’s worked in finance since law school, too. It’s what he loves.

“There’s a numbers element that I very much like—I studied math in undergrad,” said Ghiso, the managing director at BlueSpruce Investments. “And [there is] a people element … that I found really rewarding.”

Still, his law degree mattered a great deal, both personally and professionally. It helped him build key analytical skills and equipped him to work with lawyers. But it also gave him a chance to explore the rule of law and its role in American society—something that has continued to resonate with him in the years since.

“Both my parents are immigrants—actually they’re immigrants from very challenged countries,” Ghiso said. “One is from Iraq, and the other is from Ukraine. … Both of my parents left because of the trauma within the countries and the political and social discord. So for me, there’s a very strong appreciation for notions like the rule of law. … [Maybe] there wasn’t a practical element to it, [but] on a personal level it was extraordinarily rewarding, and it has a certain place in my heart.”

Professionally, his law degree has conferred a number of advantages; in many ways, it was the ideal complement to his undergraduate background in math and finance, he said. When dealing with lawyers, he finds that he’s able to get up to speed quickly and pinpoint key issues. And he has strong critical reasoning skills that he developed in part at the Law School. Working in the asset management industry, Ghiso must undertake complex analyses of companies—evaluating the industry in which the company is operating, the value proposition of the company itself, the defensibility and sustainability of that value proposition and the competitive advantage, and the quality of the management team.

“Oftentimes you’ll find—and it’s not even necessarily an intentional misdirection by a management team, it’s just the nature of marketing—that you have to discern fact from fiction in a very nuanced way,” he said. “And I think that what I learned and experienced in law school very well prepared me for that.

“Obviously there are times where you have to delve into legal details, whether it’s in the context of a change of control transaction, or simply reading the legal documents for a company to understand truly how a particular business operates,” he added. “But I think [the biggest benefit of law school is that you learn] to use your own … analytical capabilities—relying on and trusting in your own judgment to build a good sense of what’s actually going on in the company.”

My Chicago Law Moment is a series highlighting the Law School ideas and experiences that continue to resonate after graduation. Video produced by Will Anderson.