As president and chief executive officer of the Phoenix Suns NBA franchise, Jason Rowley ('01) says he relies on the skills he learned in law school every day.
Jason tells us,
"The value you get from a law degree cannot be overstated."
From negotiating player contracts to navigating state procurement rules for the Suns' city-owned stadium to understanding dense NBA regulations ("The league is essentially run by lawyers," Jason says), his legal training and skills are essential to running a massive and complex organization.
Jason always knew that he eventually wanted to run a business -- whether his own or someone else's -- and he decided a JD was the best path to achieve that goal. He grew up in a family of business owners and witnessed how essential a good lawyer was to a company's success. He saw himself in the role of trusted advisor, identifying and solving a company's problems and helping contracts come to fruition.
He served in the Navy before joining Arizona Law and found that the discipline and service mentality of the military was a natural precursor to law school. He says,
"A lot of people who go in the military have a certain sense of duty, of justice, of doing the right thing, serving others."
And he adds that he saw the same qualities in many of his law school classmates.
"Most people who go to law school want to help others and fight for what's right. The most ethical, honest, and dutiful people I know come from two places: the military and attorneys."
Jason remembers his time at Arizona Law fondly, recalling that "the absolute high point" was taking a class from William H. Rehnquist, Chief Justice of the United States, who regularly taught a spring short course on constitutional decision-making. "You had to argue a couple points in front of him and the whole class."
After graduation, Jason joined the firm of Snell and Wilmer in Phoenix, working with corporate clients in industries from health care to energy to retail. He says,
"You have to learn a lot about the business and goals of each of those sectors in order to give good advice, so that work gave me a decent background in a lot of different industries."
"Because of the pervasive nature of the law, you gain a lot of exposure to a lot of things early in your career. You solve problems for many different people, so your exposure is much broader much earlier."
When a senior partner at his firm began working on the negotiation of the 2004 sale of the Suns franchise, Jason asked to staff it, sensing it was an opportunity too good to pass up. Through that, he made a name for himself within the Suns organization. A few years later, when they needed a new general counsel, Jason landed the job, which created his path to the top of the company.
Jason says the law has served him well, giving him a strong and supportive network and ensuring he was equipped to answer the call when his dream job came knocking.
"You make your own luck. Opportunities do present themselves beyond your control, but you make your own luck by taking advantage of those."