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Pathways to the Profession: Joel Dankwa L’17

July 20, 2015

Editor’s Note: Each summer Penn Law students hone their skills through a wide array of private and public sector internships across the country and around the world. Generous financial support and fellowships for international and public interest work enable students to pursue diverse assignments in the United States and abroad. This dispatch from Joel Dankwa L’17 is one in a series of firsthand accounts by Law School students about how their summer employment opportunities are preparing them for their legal careers. Dankwa graduated from Cornell University in 2009 and completed graduate school at Boston University in 2012. He hopes to build his career on both law and his previous academic and work experience.

This summer, I had the opportunity of interning at QlikTech Inc. (or “Qlik”) headquartered in Radnor, Pennsylvania. After several weeks, I have found my interests expand to a range of topics I never considered before law school.

My academic and professional background is in health care and the life sciences. Before law school, I was a policy analyst at a state agency, examining a range of consumer issues in health care. I worked with a team of analysts and attorneys responsible for navigating changes in state and federal regulations.

At the time, my greatest challenge was to become familiar with and explore both consumer concerns and useful solutions to issues in the health care marketplace. My encounter with a vast range of legal issues peaked my interest in the law’s impact on health care and in law school. I entered Penn Law aiming to focus my interests toward areas I had previously encountered during work.

However, a year of courses revealed other interests, and further revealed that what I considered focus might actually limit exposure to a range of other options. I decided to look toward new practice areas, and directed my summer internship search to both new and familiar industries, ultimately choosing one that was unfamiliar to me — tech and software.

Serendipity orchestrated the chance encounter that led to my internship with Qlik. I ran into a friend I had not seen in a while, and she told me about the Summer Diversity Program offered through the Greater Philadelphia Association of Corporate Counsel (GPACC). GPACC’s program provides first- and second-year law students the opportunity to gain in-house legal experience with a number of great local and international organizations in the Philadelphia-Delaware Valley region. I find my internship experience serendipitous, as I could not have been matched with a better organization.

The environment at Qlik is collegial, and because it is a technology and software company, it is also very animated and rapidly growing. Attorneys and individuals in other departments are approachable, clear, and collaborative. Within a week of starting my internship, attorneys at Qlik provided opportunities to engage with customers, review confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements, become familiar with legal issues that come in tandem with licensing intellectual property, negotiate agreement terms, and craft timelines delineating obligations that emerge from recent acquisitions.

Throughout this summer, concepts from first year classes have become reality, manifesting themselves as tools for problem solving. Tort law has sharpened my ability to sift through terms that may expose parties to liability. Contract law is routine in the work I do, as Qlik builds new business relationships. Also, civil procedure is crucial in determining governing law and venue for agreements with both domestic and international entities.

My experience at Qlik has been eye-opening, and now presents a new challenge — that is, finding a niche despite a range of new career interests. Looking forward, I hope to use the remainder of my law school career to explore the issues that impact businesses like Qlik — such as intellectual property transactions, privacy and data security, and licensing. I aim to use this summer and the remainder of law school to marry new interests with my background in health care, as well as gain skills that will allow me to assist rapidly changing entities and provide reliable solutions for the problems they encounter.

- Joel Dankwa


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