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Leonard de Guzman ML’24 connects engineering, civil service, and law

December 27, 2021

De Guzman is eager to use his education to enter interdisciplinary legal spaces.

This feature is part of an ongoing series celebrating the diverse array of University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School students who make up our Law School’s uniquely collegial academic community. Together, students at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School engage in rich academic discussions, push the boundaries of contemporary legal thought, and work collaboratively toward our shared goal of upholding principles of justice locally, nationally, and around the world.

Leonard de Guzman ML’24 works in strategic planning at Comcast, where he is the chief-of-staff to a technology executive. Prior to joining the private sector, he had a public service career with the Australian Government. He has worked with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (at the Embassy of Australia in Washington, D.C.) and with the Australian Department of Defense (as both a civilian and a military officer). De Guzman holds degrees in aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering, systems engineering, and electronic engineering.

What inspired you to pursue your ML degree?

I’ve always been interested in law and the legal field. I love arguing and debating. I love communicating with influence harnessing logic and rationality, but I didn’t necessarily want to become a lawyer.

I started out life as an engineer, but some of my earliest professional experience involved procurement, contracting, managing RFTs/RFPs, and tender evaluations. I’ve worked at the international level at the Embassy of Australia in Washington, D.C., where I focused on international trade, treaties, and regulatory compliance within the United States. My current role in the technology sector involves regulatory compliance, technology law, privacy law, intellectual property law, and patents. I wanted to formalize all of these experiences by undertaking a postgraduate qualification and I landed on the ML program at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School.

What aspects of your University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School experience have you found most influential so far?

The most influential aspect so far is the diversity of students and lecturers — in backgrounds, skills, experiences, and qualifications. Everything here feels interdisciplinary. Yes, we’re all here to study a common subject, but we’re all looking at it through a different lens — be it medical, law enforcement, entrepreneurial, or technology. This type of diversity is present elsewhere, but the breadth and depth of skills and experiences that people are bringing to the classes in the ML program are much wider than I’ve experienced in other environments. I find it incredibly influential as it encourages me to be more open-minded about everything — not just in the workplace, but in life.

How has Penn’s commitment to cross-disciplinary legal training impacted your education?

It feels like the school has been very deliberate in bringing a broad and diverse cross-section of students from various backgrounds into the program. And it’s not just the students — it’s the content of the program, too, from the types of electives offered, the dual-degree pairings available, and the cases covered in class. I entered the program with the vision of formalizing my previous legal-adjacent experiences, but the cross-disciplinary focus is inspiring me to deepen my pursuit in the field and re-craft my career trajectory.

In what ways has Penn augmented your understanding of how the law intersects with the public interest?

Coming from a government background, I hold civil service close to my heart. A lot of my peers are dual ML/MPA students, so their way of thinking — which is very public interest-oriented — is coming into the Law School. The focus on public interest is quite present.

What do you hope your University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School education will help you to accomplish?

Everything. There’s a certain way of thinking that is a product of the legal field, and it is universally valuable. This is a field in which you can spend a lot of time, but without a formal qualification, you’re still a layer of abstraction away, and you’re still a guest in the space. I’m aspiring to move into environments where even more disciplines intersect, compared to where I am now. I can move comfortably between multiple disciplines and operate effectively at their intersection, and now I’m hoping I can add legal disciplines to that list.

What is one thing about you most people don’t know?

I played bass trombone in a big band at high school — the most fun I’ve ever had playing music!

What is your favorite thing to do in Philly?

One of the things that I like to do in Philadelphia is to be on a rooftop or a high floor somewhere and take in all of the city at once. The downtown Philadelphia area is relatively flat with only the odd skyscraper or two reaching up. Being able to see and absorb the whole city at once — water, sky, greenery, buildings, seeing out into the distance all in one space in such a large city — is something I find to be rare and unique to Philadelphia.

Learn more about the Law School’s Master in Law program.