May 24, 2021 – With no shortage of educational and practical experience in his legal career, Stager Clay Smith faced a unique challenge in the job market shortly after obtaining an LL.M. with a focus in health law from the University of Houston Law Center in 2020.
“Interviews were trying, because I had some people who said I was over qualified, and others who said I was not qualified enough because I had a ‘newly minted’ health law degree,” Smith said. “They weren’t sure that I had enough practical expertise to work as a health care lawyer, even though I have been a lawyer for approximately 30 years.”
With the help of the Law Center’s Career Development Office, Smith recently began his role in April at Tokio Marine, an international specialty insurance company, where he works as senior counsel doing data protection, technology agreements and trademarks.
His position will allow him to optimize his more than 20 years of experience as a corporate insurance lawyer, the privacy and security expertise developed while working in Atlanta and the newfound information gained from his health law LL.M.
Through review and guidance with résumé writing, digital job-hunting, interview preparation, career resources and target audience approaches, the support from the Career Development Office led to a successful completion to his job search.
“The Career Development Office walked with me throughout the entire job-hunting process and were probably just as excited about me finding the right role as I was, because they had seen the effort that I put into the process,” Smith said. “They had seen what I had gone through and had worked hard to help me get one.”
Smith said he also valued the relationships he formed with several faculty members during his time at the Law Center.
“Former Law Center Professor Barbara Evans and Professor of Practice Michael Ewer were both similar to me in that they received their health law LL.M.s from the University of Houston Law Center later in their professional careers,” Smith said. “They understood me as a student who was older and transitioning and helped guide me through that process, even checking in on me as I was looking for the right role and encouraging me at that time.”
Originally from Washington, D.C., Smith completed his undergraduate education at Howard University in 1987, majoring in government and political science. He earned his J.D. from the University of Akron School of Law in 1990 and later earned an LL.M. in insurance law from the University of Connecticut in 2008, an MBA in management of technology from Georgia Tech and a LL.M. in law and entrepreneurship from the Duke University School of Law in 2016.