Elizabeth Ebanks, L‘05 and GB‘06, finds her business background from The Richmond MBA program useful in her career as a litigation associate with LeClairRyan (LCR), PC in Alexandria, Virginia. 

Ebanks, who grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and received her bachelor of arts in psychology from the University of Virginia in 2000, grappled with where to complete her graduate studies before deciding on the University of Richmond. 

“I narrowed my search down to schools that had the most reputable programs, and I went to visit the University of Richmond. I just loved the campus and thought it was beautiful, and it was a big selling point that I got to stay in Richmond.”

She was initially attracted to the idea of the J.D./M.B.A. program because of the opportunity it would provide her to establish a strong foundation in business. 

“I didn’t have a business background at all. I never took any businesses classes, and I have a pretty strong entrepreneurial spirit. I had no idea that you could go through the JD and the MBA program at the same time. Since the M.B.A. was free as long as I had law credits, the decision was a no-brainer to me,” she remembers.

Her entrepreneurial spirit is what drew Ebanks to LeClairRyan, where she worked as a summer associate in the summer of 2005. 

According to LeClairRyan’s website, they are “an entrepreneurial law firm, providing business counsel and client representation in matters of corporate law and high-stakes litigation.”

Ebanks echoes the firm’s entrepreneurial roots—“LeClairRyan tries hard to make sure it’s providing business solutions to clients, as opposed to just legal solutions.”

Since graduating and accepting a full-time associate position in LCR’s Labor and Employment division, Ebanks has relied upon her business background many times in her career.

“Because I’m an employment lawyer on the defense side, I represent employers, and so all I do every day is talk to business professionals. I don’t think I would be as knowledgeable about anything that [the employers] do if I hadn’t gotten my M.B.A.,” she said.

Her business background is not only valuable in dealing with clients, but Ebanks’ colleagues look to her expertise as well.

“A lot of people at the firm look to me to talk [the clients’] language. The business world is full of acronyms, and I wouldn’t have the experience to speak their verbiage without receiving my M.B.A.”

Initially, Ebanks believed corporate law would be the best fit for her, but during a rotational program in her first law school summer internship, she chose to test-drive the employment law field and ended up finding her niche.

“Employment law consists of facts that everyone can relate to, but isn’t as emotional as other areas of law like personal injury or family law so it appealed to me and kept me engaged,” she recalled.

A common misconception in defending an employer is that attorneys do not experience the personal, emotional side of a case, according to her. 

“A lot of people…they think If you’re on the defense side, there’s not as much heart there, but because LCR does still represent a lot of small businesses, every case (to these small businesses) are still break-the-bank cases.” 

“If they lose their case, they can lose their business,” she said.She sees a similarity in the entrepreneurial spirit of a business owner with her decision to study law.

“[The business owners] are so appreciative of the work I do, and every day I feel like I’ve done something to help someone today.  I think that’s what we went to law school for and what people start businesses for.”