For Walker Donaldson, who is the financial officer for his family’s fiberglass business, a Master of Legal Studies is the perfect degree, allowing him to learn enough about construction law, tax and contracts to be the company’s voice of legal reasoning.
Donaldson earned his bachelor's degree in economics and peace, war and defense (with honors) from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 2009.
Today, he works at the company started by his father, American Fiberglass, which manufactures industrial equipment. Donaldson handles contracts, money transactions and manages projects.
“My father’s been doing this for 45 years, learning everything through experience,” Donaldson said. “My work in the classroom has gotten me so much closer to his knowledge than I would be without it.”
Donaldson said he needed legal information and understanding, but didn’t plan to practice law and didn’t want to commit the three years, full-time, that a J.D. requires.
“I wanted to learn enough to avoid problems in our business,” he said.
His education already has paid off, recently allowing Donaldson to negotiate a resolution to a potential legal dispute.
“We had a problem with a job we just finished,” Donaldson said. “I was able to look up the pertinent law and talk with authority to the people on the other side. I think it would have come out in our favor even if we would have gone to court, but it was resolved much more quickly, we avoided the courts, and everyone was happy in the end.”
Donaldson is taking one or two classes a semester while still working full time. And he’s still able to help as assistant coach for the junior varsity basketball team at Sunnyslope High School, his alma mater.
He said the class he took in construction law was the most pertinent, helping him understand the concepts and legal fine points.
“It brought a lot of things into focus,” he said.
Donaldson said he believes a legal background will give him a leg up in his business career.
“I hope that my degree will make me as well-equipped as possible to thrive in the current business environment, and all indicators so far point to it doing just that."