Cold Call with Brent Herlihy and Adam Katz

Join intrepid reporter (and Noted Single Person) Katie Peek as she hunts the big game:  JD/MBAs. We gave her $50 and the perfect cover story (HARBUS interview- so innocent!) corralled two unsuspecting joint degrees (Brent Herlihy and Adam Katz) and sent her out into the wild. Read on to see if, 18 months of business education later, she’s finally learned how to close the deal…

KP: So! What did you guys do before school?

BH: I worked for two years in investment banking at Lazard in New York.

KP:  That sounds really interesting, did you love it?

BH: I liked parts of it,  but it was not going to be a place where I was going to spend the rest of my life. I learned a lot  and  then it was time to move on.

KP: And then did you go straight to law school?

BH: Yeah I did the 1L year right after that, three years ago, then RC, and then the last two years have been combined law and business.

KP: Adam what about you?

AK: I accidentally started a company while in college.

KP: Tell us about that.

AK: It’s not that interesting.

KP:  Tell us about it in a truncated-yet-compelling way!

AK: We ran online strategy for a presidential campaign.

KP: Which president?

AK: He didn’t become president, actually, because we were so good at our jobs (Ed note: maybe stick with the created-on-purpose firms, candidates of the world!)  We  ran online strategy for the Giuliani presidential campaign, that failed, which nearly took us down as a result, and so then we had to build up an actual business. We ended up doing a lot of work with both political people and a lot of entertainment work, so we moved the company to LA…

KP: Did you move to LA?

AK: I rotated—I [long pause]—this is going to come off a little strange, but I rotated between LA, Cambridge, New York and Portugal.

BH: Adam has not left Cambridge in ten years, I think it’s important for the record to reflect. Cambridge I’m sure will miss him when he’s gone, if in fact he leaves.

AK: It’s unclear at this point.

KP: How would you describe the swathe that Adam has cut through Cambridge? Wide yet diverse?

BH: What I would say is Adam is close friends with not only the most brilliant legal minds, business professors, and students at the schools of Harvard, but also he knows every restauranteur in Harvard Square.

KP: [Long semi-disgruntled pause.] I really thought that was going to go in a more interesting direction. Did you guys always know you wanted to go to law school and/or business school?

AK: Like from the womb?

BH: Not always- when I applied to law school I knew I was going to apply to business school, and more importantly that I did not want to be a lawyer. The purpose of law school was a general learning experience that would be broadly applicable.

AK: As begin most of my in-class comments, I agree with everything that Brent said and just want to elaborate a little bit.  [Pause.] Mostly I agree with Brent.

KP: I do think it’s sort of extraordinary the idea that you’ll go to law school and never practice, just to be a well-rounded individual. Mostly it makes me feel insecure that I’m not a well-rounded individual [Ed note: this is true!]  but it feels like a fairly rigorous course of study just to hang two diplomas on the wall. Has the experience felt worth it?

BH: Both schools have been amazing. Business school has been the most intense social experience of my life,  while law school has been the most intense academic experience of my life. [Looks to Adam to elaborate.]

AK: That’s right.

KP: That’s your contribution?

AK: He’s a very eloquent man! What could I add to that?

BH: I think one thing Adam will agree with me on (because I’m stealing his idea) is that what’s great about the business school classroom is you get to know students through the classroom experience, so when you see them socially you can kind of build on what you thought was interesting from what they said in class. That doesn’t really happen in the same way at the law school.

AK: The business school does an extraordinary job of promoting  class cohesion, getting people to know each other, and the law school could probably learn from the business school in that regard.

KP: How has it been for you guys coming in this year, trying to integrate, trying to make friends, etc?

BH: The EC class this year has been incredibly welcoming to both of us. It’s been amazing. I had the expectation that this would be kind of a relaxing year where I let my liver recover, but it turns out it’s been every bit as social as last year.

KP: Who do you feel are your legal heroes, and then who do you think you’ll actually end up emulating in your career?

BH: For Adam,  his legal hero is definitely a guy named Philip Bobbitt, which I think is actually the answer to the second question as well [authorial heart sinks at the unbearable sincerity of this friendship. Where are Bob and Tom when I need them?] Phillip Bobbitt is a Columbia law school professor who’s also something of an international man of mystery, world-renowned author on war as well as law, and sort of a jack of all trades, which is exactly how I think of Adam.

KP: [alternately touched and bored by the relentless bromance, but dutifully pursuing the line of questioning. Anything for you, HARBUS!] And Adam what do you think?

AK: For Brent I would say Marty Lipton could be his legal hero, a great advocate of traditional stakeholder model of [long explanation of subject far too technical for author here.]. Who he’s going to end up like? I think Bob Rubin.

KP:  So you guys are really really not taking this opportunity to throw each other under the bus in comical and reader-satisfying fashion?

AK: There’s no way to throw him under the bus! He’s un-throw-under-the-busable! He’s incredibly nice, he’s got a a beautiful girlfriend, he’s tall, he’s good-looking, he plays a great game of golf- what would I say?

[The entrée of a third party, fellow JD-MBA Ben Black, proves welcome relief from this fusillade of cheer.]

 KP: Ben! Thank God. How would you describe these guys in 3 words or less?

BB: Nice, long-winded, pretentious.

KP: Great! We’re back in the game.

BB: You know there’s another solution here: when I was a reporter in college,  I used to make up quotes all the time!

AK: Aren’t you our HARBUS rep, Ben?

BB: I got a lot of complaints about that actually…  Anyway, Katie, are you on Snapchat?

KP: Um! Law school women vs b-school women?

AK: All of the above!

BH: Columbia Business School women all the way.

KP:  What’s been the most surprising thing about business school life to you?

BH: How adaptable we all are to our environment I think- we immediately begin to behave in very similar patterns to what we did in middle school, high school, senior year of college… It doesn’t really matter how old you are, it turns out you still have pretty much the same tendencies in certain situations.

BB: But we have Snapchat now!

KP: Where do you think you’ll be in 20 years?

BH: Adam will still be in Cambridge.

AK: I have kind of a small-town fantasy, but  I don’t  really think that’s going to happen. I’ve always kind of wanted to coach the high school football team, but it seems pretty remote.

KP: In high school I tried to get my parents to let me transfer to Nantucket High for a semester- be a cheerleader, date the captain of the football team…

AK: So you get it!  I actually had a near-miss in that in college I applied to be the offensive line coach for Florida State-apparently there’s a law in Florida where you have to post public employment opportunities and make them open to all candidates, so I saw this thing and was all set to drop out of college to go down there, My idol in life is Bobby Bowden [Ed note: sp? I think? Florida State Head Coach 1976-2009?] and all I wanted to do was go down there, pitch in, mold young minds…

 KP: And that covers “What I wouldn’t know about you from the classcard!” Thanks for playing guys, and Snapchat me any time!