Career Corner: Joint degree makes UF Law alum marketable in multiple fields
The versatility of a law degree is one of the benefits of attending law school. For triple Gator and UF Law alumnus Derek Bruce (JD 98), his joint MBA and J.D. have made him marketable not only in the legal field, but also in governmental relations and public affairs.
Bruce earned a B.S. in telecommunications at UF before entering into the joint degree program.
During his junior year as an undergraduate, an internship with The McLaughlin Group TV program in Washington, D.C., sparked Bruce’s passion for policy. There, his interests morphed from reporting the news to making it.
After graduating from law school, Bruce began his career at Gray Robinson, P.A. practicing governmental law. Bruce worked his way up to partner, and was then approached to work for Walt Disney World as director of Government Relations.
For three years Bruce helped to keep the Disney spirit alive.
“Disney is a tremendous company,” he said. “It captures the hearts and minds of people of all ages from the young to the young at heart.”
In 2009, Bruce and his partner Tico Perez started Edge Public Affairs, LLC, a public policy consulting firm in Orlando.
Bruce credited his confidence to pursue these diverse paths not only to his degrees, but also, to the work experience he obtained during law school.
“I was definitely prepared, but there’s no level of education that can replace hands-on experience in the field of law. That’s why they call it the practice of law,” Bruce said.
After graduating, Bruce wasn’t sure how he would combine the skills he fostered in both graduate degrees. He worried if he’d made the right decision. It wasn’t until his job at Disney that he was able to successfully use the business skills he acquired from his MBA.
“Don’t be afraid to do something that you didn’t see yourself doing,” Bruce said.
He described the willingness of students to jump in and take the unpaid internship or job in another practice area as an advantage, rather than a setback.
When he’s not working, Bruce enjoys playing golf and spending time with his son. He also enjoys reading biographies and the Bible.
Life may seem like it comes easy to Bruce, but he faces obstacles like the rest of us, namely time management and balancing work and his personal life.
Realizing your priorities and adjusting your time around present demands is the key to maintaining a good life balance, he said.
One of Bruce’s favorite aphorisms illustrates this philosophy: “You can have it all; you just can’t have it all at one time.”
- Lindsey Tercilla