Shaun Sanders (’15) was never destined for a conventional career. That fact is easily demonstrated by his first job in middle school: search engine optimization for a mobile home refinancing firm. After obtaining his bachelor’s degree in business administration management, Shaun’s expertise expanded to consulting for companies to develop their ideas, technology, and marketing campaigns. But he found that one crucial component of business development knowledge was missing: a proficiency in the law.

“Eventually, each company I worked with would want to do something that walked the line of legality. I would have to tell them that they needed to talk to a lawyer, and that bothered me,” Sanders said. “I didn’t like that I couldn’t do that one thing, so I chose to go to law school.”

While studying at the Fowler School of Law, Sanders tapped into networking opportunities with the innovative Launch Labs Incubator at Chapman’s Leatherby Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Ethics. Shortly after graduating, his efforts led to a position at the University of California, Irvine’s incubator, The Cove, where he worked directly with students to advise them on business start-ups.

Sanders currently works for Irvine-based software developer and venture firm HOTB Software Solutions, where he blends his knowledge of law and business development. As the company’s in-house counsel, he handles licensing and contracting issues, and interacts with counsel at other companies. As a business developer, he works with start-up companies, software programmers, and angel groups to develop their ideas into viable investments for his company’s growing portfolio.

“For me, the law has always been the source code of society. We all abide by these rules, whether we know it or not. It has helped me in the deals that I’ve worked on, and even in developing technologies where laws aren’t yet solidified,” he said. “Just knowing how intellectual property, privacy, and international law connect to our clients’ needs helps me steer our teams in the best direction.”

Sanders said that his alternative career path has shown him the flexibility a JD degree can provide. “Becoming an attorney was kind of the endcap that tied everything together for me,” he said. “It helps people feel more comfortable talking with me and lets me help them with those other facets I wasn’t able to do before.”

Beyond the practical legal skills he learned in the classroom, Sanders honed his networking skills at Chapman’s Fowler School of Law and recommends that current students do the same. “Being in a professional environment with students who were in the top of their classes helped me learn to represent myself better,” he said.