UHLC alum O'Brien '14 takes legal mindset to gaming industry 

University of Houston Law Center graduate Kevin O'Brien '14

March 1, 2018 - Kevin O'Brien doesn't practice law anymore, but the lessons he learned in law school still apply to his work.

The 2014 University of Houston Law Center alumnus found his dream job at Riot Games, a successful developer of computer games, in Santa Monica, Calif., where he works as a lead quality analyst.

"We talked a lot in law school about spotting strong or weak arguments and ensuring the root of an argument that you're making in a case is tied to some law, precedent or fact," O'Brien said. "Frequently we would talk about cases where that was not true and explain why it was a weak argument and why it has no basis.

"That mentality has proven valuable in almost everything I do. It's particularly valuable in quality assurance where part of what's expected is to be a professional cynic, paying attention to detail."

O'Brien's first role with Riot Games was a contract position as a quality assurance analyst in February 2015. He was hired full-time after about six months. In June 2016 he was promoted to senior quality assurance analyst and again in January 2017 to his current role.

He was introduced to "League of Legends," the most popular title by Riot Games, by a classmate during his 1L year at the Law Center.  

"That's probably the worst time to start playing a game," O'Brien said. "It's a PC game, and at the time I didn't have one to play on at the time. But I loved the game and I was so addicted to it.

"I was basically bumming around on people's laptops. If someone was studying from a book and weren't using their computer I would borrow theirs. I installed the game on all my friends' laptops so I could play when they weren't using them."

His fondness for the game led him to research Riot Games in hopes of working there. However, it took persistence before O'Brien was hired. In the midst of applying for legal internships and work studies, he decided to impulsively apply for an internship at Riot Games.

"I decided why not? I'll just apply for a game design internship because that's what meets what I can do," he said. "I decided to do it for fun and made it really far in the process, much further than I thought would get.

"They flew me out to their Santa Monica office for a full day of interviews. I had never been flown anywhere for an interview in my life, so I thought that was incredible. Getting that taste of it, I thought, 'Wow, this place is so cool. It's just like it was advertised.' "

After being rejected once, O'Brien applied a second time at Riot Games for another position, only to be denied again. After practicing at a Houston-area law firm for several months, he made a third attempt at Riot Games and was hired.

"That second defeat was absolutely crushing," O'Brien said. "The first one was fine because I tried on a whim. It took a lot to apply again after that. But when I got the job, it was huge. I felt like I had finally made it."