Corey Allen

Corey Allen '13

Associate at Latham and Watkins LLP

  • Major: Economics and Political Science
swipe to see more

See Professional Activities

How did you find your way to where you are today? Share a little about your professional journey.

While at Furman, it took me some time to figure out my ultimate career path. Through the help of Furman’s Internships office (shout-out to Susan Zeiger for all of her help), I did research in the economics department, internships at a government research institute and a professional consulting firm, and an internship with a congressman. I also studied abroad in Scotland and had an incredible experience working in the Scottish Parliament for a member, who I still correspond with.

After graduation from Furman, I immediately entered law school at the University of Virginia School of Law. I chose UVA for its strong academics, its community atmosphere, and its track record of being able to place graduates in successful jobs all across the country. I only knew I wanted to practice law related to the energy and environmental sectors. I spent the summer after my first year of law school working for a federal district judge in Spartanburg, SC to get some exposure to a wide variety of types of law and improve my writing. I also learned that summer that I was more interested in corporate practice, which led me to spend the summer after my second year working at a large international law firm in Houston, Texas, Latham & Watkins LLP. I got great exposure to a wide variety of corporate work and loved every bit of it. I was thrilled to get an offer to come back, and have started practicing full time at Latham now that I have graduated and passed the Texas bar.Was there a catalyzing experience be that critical meeting, research or discovery, being recruited, failing, starting over, or major event, that shaped your career?

What advice would you offer someone in the same situation?

There was definitely a critical meeting at Furman that shaped my career path, around fall exams sophomore year. At this point, I was meeting with my freshman faculty advisor, Dr. Don Aiesi, for the last time, and out of nowhere he told me two things: 1) that I was going to take his Judicial Process class in the spring and would love it; and 2) that I needed to go to law school and practice law as a career. I had never thought of this as an option before (there aren't any lawyers in my family unless you go back 6 generations), but I was captivated by the way that he showed me how the strong analytical skills I was learning in Economics would combine with my interests in environmental and energy policy to be the backbone of a legal career. As I've now confessed to Dr. Aiesi many, many times, he was right on both his points - Judicial Process was one of my three favorite courses at Furman, and here I am now practicing law and absolutely loving it.

When providing advice for professional development, what are some tools or resources one should consider?

First, while at Furman, consult with faculty mentors that you have – your advisor, professors whose classes you enjoyed, etc. They can be great resources to recommend further courses of study and work/internship opportunities. Also, utilize the Internships and Research office. The best way to find a career path that is fulfilling for you is to try a bunch of different things until you hit your niche. Also, employers these days demand seeing internship and work experience, so it is a good idea to fill up that resume.

For those considering law school, one book I read on perspective before going was Law School Confidential. It has lots of helpful information out there. Also, when applying to schools, I would suggest really thinking about where you might want to work geographically, and applying to the schools that have the strongest credentials and employment placing into that market. If you don't know where you want to go or what to do, go for the best school you can to maximize your employment prospects.

I don't belong to any professional groups yet other than the State Bar of Texas and Alumni Associations at Furman and UVA. However, networking is very important to your career and everyone, myself included, should strive to maximize any possible networking opportunities, as the world is smaller than you think.

In terms of organizing my thoughts or work process, I use my calendars heavily to keep myself on track, and also try to get a very clear understanding of tasks, deadlines, resources to use, and material issues I might come across while on an assignment. I always try to beat deadlines and present things in a concise, organized, user-friendly medium. I have taken the Insights Discovery Personal Profile, as Latham has all its employees do. It was very accurate, and for those who know it, I am solidly Blue.

How would you recommend someone interested in the same career/vocation pursue a similar path?

I think I've hit on a few of these above. However, to reiterate, really take a close look at employment statistics and school rankings when thinking about what law school to choose, and go to the best possible school to help with where you want to work geographically and what you want to do. Law school is a big investment and you want to make a wise investment. Second, there is nothing wrong with going straight from undergrad to law school, though some legal employers look very favorably on some prior work experience. Third, there is no degree that is a bad one to practice law – and if you have a science background, you are a very marketable commodity. Once you get to law school, study hard and be ready to try lots of different things until you figure out what you really want to do.

How is success defined in your career field? (How did Furman prepare you to be successful?)

Furman prepared me to be successful in many ways, but I'll stick to three here. First, Furman taught me how to think analytically and critically across a number of subjects. That is key to being a good lawyer, where success is defined as being able to think critically about a problem, find an answer, and deliver it to a client in a timely, professional matter. Second, Furman taught me how to be able to handle significant amounts of out of class work. This is the norm at law school and while practicing, and my liberal arts education gave me a leg up here. Third, Furman taught me that you can really help yourself by being able to ask for help. Furman professors were always approachable when I had problems or questions, and being able to ask for help was a critical part of succeeding in law school – Furman really prepared me on how to do that well.

What do you wish you would have known getting started in your field?

wish I would have known how important networking and interpersonal skills are into marketing yourself into a job. This is an area everyone could probably stand some improvement in, but it would have helped to know this earlier on to work on this skill, as it will be important to client interactions through the rest of my career.

Is there anything unique about getting into the industry?

Is there anything unique about getting into the industry? As I noted above, there is no one degree type, no type of college, and no prior career path that can prohibit you from success in law school and as an attorney. Don't be afraid to reach out and learn about as many things as you can, as this only broadens your perspective and sharpens your critical thinking.

Are there any unspoken rules or recommendations that "they" don't tell you?

There may be some that I don't even know about yet. However, it is not said enough that in the field of law asking more questions to get the clearest sense of an assignment and a deadline is always a good idea, and it helps you figure out the ultimate needs of the client.

How has your liberal arts background shaped your career path or supported your success?

My liberal arts education taught me how to process large amounts of academic work effectively and efficiently, how important classroom discussion across differing viewpoints is to an education, and how it is important to not pigeon-hole yourself into one view of the world. Some of my best academic experiences were in classes outside of my majors, and I took a broad variety of classes within each of my majors to further encourage me to think broadly and critically about problems. These analytical skills are paramount to success in my career.

What extracurricular activities helped you develop professionally?

Serving in leadership roles in my fraternity Pi Kappa Phi and in College Democrats taught me valuable organizational and interpersonal skills that are important to my professional work every day. Additionally, being a part of broadly diverse groups on campus (I did activities ranging from Jazz Ensemble to Club Baseball to various community service projects) helped me see additional viewpoints on the world and how important it is to listen and think to come to the answer to a problem.

What was your major(s)? And how have you applied it in your career field?

I double majored in Economics and Political Science, focusing on applied economics (environmental, urban and regional, international development) and comparative politics (US/UK, international relations). I use the analytical framework that economics taught me, as well as my understanding of politics and international relations, every day to help solve legal issues that our international clients have around the world.

What are other skill sets or majors (perhaps unconventional) that thrive in this field?

As I noted above, there is no one major that disqualifies you from being a lawyer. Unconventional majors that are very popular to employers are hard sciences, engineering, and computer science.

What are other courses you took or you wish you would have taken that would also add value in your career?

I think I might have benefitted from taking some additional environmental science classes at Furman to strengthen my knowledge of the scientific issues of the energy and environmental sectors. I also wish I could have had more time to take courses in German to keep up my foreign language skills.

Any final advice for students or recent grads?

Don't be scared to ask for help or to try lots of things. Furman has great resources to help with your career, and use them, as this helps keep many doors open for you.

Were there particular courses within the economics department that were especially useful in helping you identify your career or that ended up helping you to be successful in your career (maybe unexpectedly)?

Empirical Methods, as well as Dr. Jones's senior seminar in economic forecasting, were critical in developing my analytical skills and teaching me to look beyond the data for the answer. Further, Environmental Economics was a foundational course to my interest in energy and environmental policy, and really showed me that this was the area I want to work in.

Were there particular projects or activities from any of your economics courses that were especially useful?

Having the opportunity to write many significant term papers was helpful in sharpening my research and writing skills, which are imperative for an attorney. This experience translated well into my summer economics research fellowship, where I got to learn more about the nuts and bolts of executing a research project from start to finish.

Were there particular "engaged learning" experiences (e.g. internships, study away, research opportunities) that were especially useful?

Two internships were especially valuable. First, my study away experience and internship in the Scottish Parliament was paramount in broadening my world view and seeing first-hand how a different system of government and civil society works. My MSP also really let me experience many things, from authoring legislation to helping him campaign in his constituency. Second, I did an internship at McGuireWoods Consulting LLC in Richmond, VA after returning from Scotland. This taught me a huge amount about working in the professional services arena, and while I did not do any specifically legal work, this gave me a good primer on similar work assignments and how to meet client expectations expeditiously and professionally. I knew at that point I was ready for the practice of law in a large law firm.

Any other "highlights" from your experience in economics?

I really benefitted from the advising and mentoring of past department chair Dr. Ken Peterson. He took me under his wing before I even started at Furman, got me hooked on economics five minutes into the first day of his Introduction to Economics class, and connected me with a variety of other experiences and mentorships that really got my career search going. He was an invaluable help to me getting to where I am today, and while I know the department will miss him, the university is getting an invaluable helping hand as he moves to be Dean of the Faculty.