For Brian Benvenisty ’15, pursuing the Columbia Three-Year J.D./M.B.A. Program at the Law School and Business School was like coming home.
He met his wife, Jessica C. Benvenisty ’12, as an undergraduate student at Columbia College. And the rigorous interdisciplinary thinking required in the joint program between Columbia Law School and Columbia Business School was familiar—he double-majored in economics and psychology as an undergraduate and later worked as an analyst selecting hedge fund and private equity investments at the height of the economic crisis.
“Any big transaction will have legal issues to consider, and the governing law is never easy to understand,” Benvenisty says. “People who learn these intricate systems have a discernible advantage.”
In the dual-degree program, established in the fall of 2011, the New Jersey native enjoyed a traditional first year taking foundational law classes, spent his second year primarily at the Business School, and returned to the Law School for most of his third year. Among his favorite experiences were a bankruptcy class with Professor Edward R. Morrison, for whom he worked as a teaching assistant this year, and a tax class with Dean Emeritus David M. Schizer, currently the Harvey R. Miller Professor of Law and Economics.
Benvenisty also forged a close relationship with Professor Robert J. Jackson Jr., co-director of the Ira M. Millstein Center for Global Markets and Corporate Ownership. Benvenisty took Jackson’s Corporations course his first year and served as a teaching assistant for the class the next year. Before Benvenisty and his wife married in February 2014, Jackson hosted a surprise in-class wedding party with cake and champagne.
“Professor Jackson is a mentor not only to J.D./M.B.A. students but to anyone who wants to take a slightly different path in their law careers,” Benvenisty says. “He thinks creatively about where a J.D. can take you.”
The summer after his first year, Benvenisty interned for U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert E. Gerber ’70 of the Southern District of New York, who is also an adjunct professor at the Law School. Benvenisty attended hearings every day and drafted two legal opinions in cases before the judge. During the summer after his second year, Benvenisty worked as an associate at Blackstone and was hired by the global investment and advisory firm to join its restructuring and reorganization practice after graduation.
Benvenisty hopes he can be an unofficial ambassador for the Law School's Three-Year J.D./M.B.A. Program and a mentor for future students. The two degrees, he says, have helped him to think more expansively.
“The two degrees mutually reinforce each other,” Benvenisty says, “and the experience has been much more than the sum of its parts.”