Working in the Law School’s Kirkland & Ellis Corporate Lab as a second-year student, Lauren Fladger, ’13, began to realize how her varied interests in intellectual property, business, and collaboration could be combined into a career that would fit her perfectly.
“There was still some part of me thinking, what should my next step in my career truly be, where can I find a professional environment that's going to fill all my interests?” Fladger said. “And I think going back to the Corporate Lab in my 3L year, in sort of a semi-leadership position, and working in a team really affirmed the types of environments that I wanted to work in.”
The Corporate Lab—which gives students hands-on experience doing transactional legal work for a variety of multinational companies—exposed Fladger to the intricacies of working in the business world, and ultimately helped her decide to work in management consulting, rather than practicing law, after she graduated. In the Corporate Lab, Fladger learned firsthand how corporations interact both with their own in-house lawyers as well as with outside counsel, she said. Working in teams, and seeing how other teams functioned, she added, offered valuable insight as well.
“[I was] curious about how teams working well enables companies to do better work,” said Fladger, who is currently the senior lead of service innovation at Chick-fil-A Corporate. “So being in the Corporate Lab, being on a team, but then also seeing how other teams in the Corporate Lab were interacting and doing great work or working through things was a really cool exploration.”
When Fladger thinks about how in her time in the Corporate Lab has informed her career, she remembers learning to focus on the “so what?” at every phase of analysis.
“You can come up with all of these really cool analyses and turns of phrase—often legalities turn on the nuance of language, but so what?” Fladger said. “What is the implication? What is the financial or business or community impact to what you are recommending or what you're finding? That didn't always come out in all of our coursework. And I think especially coming from Chicago, which is known as a very cerebral academic environment—I think the Corporate Lab was an awesome grounding in the practicalities of business.”
Fladger has kept this focus in mind over the years, and continues to find herself asking “so what?” at each stage of the projects she’s working on.
“You may be on an eight-week project, so every day really counts,” Fladger said. “You can't get into the weeds of theory without coming out with really good outcomes each day. That was a really helpful understanding.”