Law student becomes triple bearcat before age 25
After taking a job at Stoel Rives in her final year of high school, Karina Salzberg knew she wanted to become a lawyer. With a long-standing interest in government and history, the career field is a good choice.
Salzberg stumbled upon Willamette University as part of her college research process and, after touring, fell in love with the beauty of the campus and the friendliness of the community.
She enrolled as a major in politics and took a law course with Professor Rachael Carella. After speaking with several lawyers, she decided to focus on business law and explored the BA / MBA program with the Atkinson School of Management.
For Salzberg, the program was perfectly suited. She knew she wanted to practice law, but believed that a business background would help her better understand clients’ needs and maybe even help her run a law firm. She added the MBA to her study plan and started the program in the fall of 2017.
Pursuing bachelor’s, master’s and law’s degrees would typically take nine years, but Salzberg aimed to complete them faster, using the options to take courses simultaneously. So she applied to Willamette Law to become a JD / MBA student.
Shortly after starting his first year of law school in the fall of 2018, concerns arose about the feasibility of his ability to complete the JD and MBA programs. Former Associate Dean of Law Norman Williams and JR Tarabocchia, then Associate Dean of Legal Recruitment and Student Activities, advocated on her behalf to show how she could meet the demands of both programs on a tight schedule.
âI knew I would have to be extremely careful in planning my classes and work extremely hard to maintain my GPA so that I didn’t fall for the extra demands of law school law classes,â says Salzberg. âDean Williams worked with me to prioritize which courses to take and when to take them based on my interests, degree requirements and schedule constraints. With his help, I made a plan for each semester of class until graduation. “
Balancing her class schedule, her internships, and her full course load was intimidating. But Salzberg says she relied on the support network of family, friends and others who constantly encouraged her and reminded her that it would be worth it in the end. Upon graduation, Salzberg obtained three diplomas, two MBA internships and two law internships, all before the age of 25.
Reflecting on her journey, she says it was initially overwhelming to take seven consecutive years of substantial education. But the different programs allowed her to use different parts of her brain, and she enjoys it, although she has fewer electives and less free time than her peers. Salzberg says that although her path has accelerated, all of her experiences have helped her feel ready to enter the workforce.
âIn law school, we are taught to be passionate advocates for our clients, but we must remember that it is also extremely important to be a passionate lawyer for yourself,â says Salzberg. âIt’s so important to make the most of your situation, your experiences and your opportunities, and that’s what I did at Willamette by opening up new avenues, even when things got complicated and stressful. “
She says she’s learned not to be afraid to ask for help, as well as the importance of organization, planning, and time management in achieving her goals.
Williams, who helped with her class schedule, says she is the first triple Bearcat to complete the 3-1-3 joint curriculum.
âShe is a pioneering student with an incredibly bright future,â says Williams, âand the College of Law is thrilled to have had her as a student.
After celebrating her graduation in May, Salzberg will sit for the Oregon bar exam and join the Saalfeld Griggs law firm in Salem as a partner. She hopes to one day become a managing partner.
âThe world is full of uncertainties right now,â she said, âbut I think my crazy experience with all of this has better prepared me to face whatever is to follow.â