February 11, 2020 at 4:09 pm

Happy Beginnings | Oster Enjoys Problem Solving, Creativity In Her Corporate Law Practice

Hannah Oster, portrait

Hannah Oster

Editor’s Note: The Happy Beginnings series features recent College of Arts & Sciences graduates who are getting started in careers, graduate school and service.

Ohio University alum Hannah Oster ’15 is using her aptitude for business and financial strategy in her position as an associate in the Mergers & Acquisitions group in Cleveland’s Jones Day law firm.

While she was an undergraduate student at OHIO, Oster majored in English Pre-Law and proudly says that choosing OHIO “turned into the best decision [she has] ever made and the best four years of [her] life.”

During her time at Ohio University, Oster dedicated much of her time to Phi Alpha Delta, OHIO’s Pre-Law Fraternity, and was elected president during her senior year. She also served as the assistant director for Students Defending Students, was a Center for Student Legal Services Board Member, and worked as a barista at the Front Room Cafe.

Oster came into her undergraduate degree a bit unsure of what her future held. She knew she was interested in law, but did not have a clear vision of what type of lawyer she hoped to become. Fortunately, she found her niche in one of Ohio University’s business law courses and was able to extend that interest into her law school curriculum. She earned a Juris Doctor from the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

“All I knew for sure when I decided to go to law school was that I did not want to litigate. I began exploring opportunities lawyers had outside of entering a courtroom, and I realized that something about the business world really intrigued me. I took all of the business law classes that I could in law school (and even a few in undergrad). Once I began my summer at Jones Day after 2L year, I knew corporate law in general, and deal work specifically, was the right path for me.”

Working in Mergers & Acquisitions

Oster currently works as an associate attorney at Jones Day in Cleveland, one of the largest law firms in the world. There, she explores her excitement for business in the legal field, while also having an ever changing focus as she moves from one project to the next.

“I’m currently an associate in the Mergers & Acquisitions group in the Cleveland office at Jones Day, an international corporate law firm. This means I do what people refer to as transactional or ‘deal’ work (as opposed to litigation). Most of my job involves representing clients on various types of strategic transactions—for example, mergers, acquisitions, spin-offs, and restructurings. I also spend some time advising companies on corporate governance matters. For me, that has generally involved things like responding to shareholder proposals, guiding companies on the structure of their boards, and conducting research on various questions directors have related to company management. However, there is no such thing as a typical day in M&A—as soon as I get comfortable with one concept or one project, something new comes up. The learning never ends,” she says.

“I’m endlessly fascinated by the corporate deals that constitute the bulk of my work. There is so much that goes into facilitating a transaction, and no two deals are the same. We spend tons of time negotiating every little detail and have to get creative to make each aspect of the deal work for everyone. There will never be a day that I don’t learn something new from my job, and that’s what I love about it—if I’ve ever had a passion for anything, it’s learning.

Oster loves the problem solving aspect of her job.

“I also love that the overarching objective of my job is solving problems before they arise and coming up with compromises that satisfy all parties. I think it’s the middle child in me, but that cooperative, ‘try to make everyone happy’ aspect always appealed to me more than the ‘tearing things apart’ mindset that can often go along with litigation, since a litigator’s work often doesn’t begin until something goes wrong (nothing against the litigators—they’re the one who clean up any messes we do make!).”

Experiential Learning & Majoring in English

Oster knows that Ohio University and the experiential learning opportunities OHIO offered her were instrumental in her success in law school. She specifically highlights her time in Phi Alpha Delta, Students Defending Students, and as an English major.

“Joining Phi Alpha Delta was the best thing I could have done for myself. Law school is its own beast, and navigating how to get there—and even deciding whether going is the right choice for you—can be incredibly difficult. In addition to all of the other benefits PAD provided, simply surrounding myself with other people who were hoping to follow the same path was incredibly valuable. We figured it all out together.”

“[Students Defending Students] also gave a great taste of what being a lawyer might be like. I gained experience in serving as someone’s representative, listening to his or her problems, and figuring out how to solve them. It showed me how important it is that everyone receives help in navigating the legal system. Even if we can’t do much for them concretely—i.e. there is no ‘getting them out of’ the consequences of their actions—it’s invaluable to have someone to guide you through the process and keep you apprised of what’s going on.”

“Finally, majoring in English prepared me for law school more than I ever could have imagined. When I started college, I had no idea what I wanted to do, so I chose English for fun—I just loved it. However, the entirety of law school consists of reading, analyzing, distilling the important information and then applying it through writing. I had already spent four years doing this in undergrad. Although law school, academically, is different than anything you’ll ever experience (before or after), it was advantageous to have these basic skills already in my wheelhouse.”

Oster also offers invaluable advice for Ohio University undergraduate students, largely revolving around the idea of taking advantage of all the resources and connections given to students.

“Learn everything about it that you can. Law school and the practice of law are unlike any other graduate program and profession. This is beneficial in that the field offers so many different paths and so many opportunities for you to find a career that’s right for you and about which you are passionate. However, it’s also hard work and can be difficult to navigate, so you should do all your research and make sure it’s the right path for you before fully diving in.”

“Luckily, OU offers incredible resources for navigating this field and learning what you need to know before entering it. Between the Center for Law, Justice & Culture, PAD, SDS and so much more, it’s easy to find faculty that can guide you through the process and friends to wade in the waters with you. For example, CLJC Pre-Law Specialist Larry Hayman, Esq. gave me feedback on scholarship essays and helped me find a summer internship before starting 1L year. Martha Compton (then head of Community Standards) taught me how to advocate for my SDS clients by asking the difficult, probing questions. I studied for the LSAT with my best friend Katlyn, who headed both SDS and PAD with me. I can’t overstate the importance of these relationships and how much they helped me over the years. It’s imperative that you take advantage of all of these resources while they’re at your fingertips.”

“OU could never be summed up in one memory, but the thing I miss most about college is living with all of my best friends. I’m at that point where my college friends are now scattered both around the suburbs of Cleveland and around the country. I’d do anything to spend just one more semester with everyone in the same place.”

Finally, Oster reminds all current students that “Athens is the best place in the world! I hope those of you that are lucky enough to be at OU right now soak up every second. It’s over way too quickly.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *