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Letting Law Be Informed by Finance

Dual degree at Vanderbilt gives Tiffany Burba the leg up she wanted

Tiffany Burba
Intellectual Property Attorney, Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP

Vanderbilt MS Finance 2017

Tiffany Burba always wanted to be a lawyer. The only question was what kind?

By her own account, she spent several years exploring various legal settings through volunteer work and internships: a family law firm, a public defender’s office, a U.S. attorney’s office, a federal judge’s chambers, and a medical-legal partnership for low-income patients.

When she got the chance to work for a Nashville law firm doing smaller-scale mergers and business reorganizations, Tiffany found her calling. “I enjoyed this much more than any litigation matters I had worked on,” she says, “so I decided to dive into a sophisticated secured lending and capital markets practice in Charlotte last summer. I found I really liked working with institutional clients. It was exciting to be able to draft the documents required for creating and trading securities.”’

Once she had honed her professional interests, Tiffany wanted to pursue an MSF in addition to a law degree. Vanderbilt offered her a chance to earn a dual degree in three years. Given the top 20 ranking of Vanderbilt University Law School and the top 3 ranking of the MSF program, she says her scholarship offer to study in Nashville was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up.

“Coming in with a political science background, with limited strategy and math-based course work, made me nervous that I wouldn’t adequately understand the underlying transactions when drafting contracts and other agreements for bankers and fund managers,” Tiffany says. “I hoped this [dual degree] would help me stand out from Day 1 as someone who had the knowledge not only to advise clients on what they legally can do, but also on what they should do, based on how regulatory and litigation risks could alter the expected value of a proposed deal.”

Apparently, it did. In the middle of the day during Mod I of the MSF program, as she was working on a group problem set for Financial Economics, Tiffany received a call with a job offer from a firm in Charlotte. “For obvious reasons,” she says, “that was probably my favorite day in class.”

Fun Fact: Along with playing soccer, Tiffany enjoys taking boxing classes.

“I enjoyed this much more than any litigation matters I had worked on.”