Q&A With Paul Shay ('79)

October 17, 2014

SLU LAW’s annual Reunion this weekend will celebrate the classes of 1969, 1974, 1979, 1984, 1989, 1994 and 2004. 

In recognition of the 2014 Reunion, The Sidebar contacted alumnus Paul Shay (‘79) for a Q&A.

Q: First off, tell us a little bit about where you work and what you do.

A: I am Head of Compliance for TDBank's North American credit card and merchant services business. I cover Canada – where we are the largest issuer, and the U.S. where we are rapidly building out a new program. I spend a lot of time in business development and with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Q: Why did you decide to go to law school and how did you end up at SLU LAW?

A: My brother Mike ('71) is an attorney and judge who always made the practice of law sound interesting and fun. I had a job offer from a bank in Connecticut, and told my folks that I could see if I liked banking, and that I could go back to school if I didn’t like the corporate world. My dad suggested doing it in reverse – try school first. I did, liked it and wound up working for Citibank when I graduated, so it all worked out.

Q: What are some of your best memories of your time at SLU LAW?

A: I am always one of the few folks in gatherings of lawyers who have almost entirely fond memories of law school. My classmates were great – I don’t remember any "paper chase" moments, the faculty were all good sports and good teachers. I even had fond memories of the campus tree we shared with the Business School. Most important, I met Beth (SLU LAW '81) in my third year, and have been with her ever since.

Q:  Did any particular experience at SLU LAW help shape your career path?

A: Truthfully, I knew I wanted to be in banking. Practically, I would have blown my opportunity to interview with Citibank but for the persistence of the Dean's Office placement team.

Q:  What do you like most about working in corporate/financial law?

A: Everything a bank does is covered by some regulation or another. I have had the opportunity to shape some of those laws and regulations, but more important, have had the opportunity to shape how we provide products and services to our Customers.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges working in this field?

A: The great recession and subsequent housing crisis really woke Congress up. Seeing how millions of Americans lost their homes because they may have been oversold as to what they could afford has driven a sea change in how US financial services firms are regulated. Consumer financial services law has shifted from a hyper-technical Talmudic interpretation of regulations to a principles-based scheme driven by the CFPB. I love it on so many levels, the best being it is the right way to regulate.

Q:  What is your biggest piece of advice for SLU LAW students interested in corporate/financial law?

A: First, learn how to write well. I cannot tell you how many candidates fail because they cannot communicate in writing. Make sure your cover letter is free of jargon. Second, do your research. You would be surprised how many candidates do not bother to figure out who they are talking to and what the company they want to join does. Third, take the relevant courses in commercial and consumer banking. We know schools do offer legal "major" per se, but you can generally find a way to craft a financial concentration.

Q: What are some of your interests outside of work?

A: Beth and I love to hike and bike. I will go anywhere as long as I need my passport. I still cantor at Mass and love to cook for crowds.

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