Undergraduate: Norwegian School of Economics & Business Administration, Bergen, Norway
Career focus: Corporate transactions
Hedda Leikvang spent the summer between her first and second years of law school at her home in Oslo, Norway, working on her thesis for the M.Sc. in finance she is earning at the Norwegian School of Economics & Business Administration (NHH). Hedda also earned her undergraduate degree at NHH, and she discovered Vanderbilt Law School during a semester studying as an exchange student at Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management.
When she decided to pursue an American law degree, Vanderbilt was her top choice, both because of its strong Law and Business Certificate Program and because of its size. “When I studied at Owen, I loved Vanderbilt and Nashville, and I thought Vanderbilt would be a great place to spend three years in law school,” she says. “Being from a small place, I wanted a school that would not be too overwhelming, so Vanderbilt’s modest size fit me perfectly. And Vanderbilt is known for its excellent faculty.”
Hedda is pursuing the certificate in law and business at Vanderbilt Law School while working as a teaching assistant at the Owen School, where she supports the faculty who teach Corporate Valuation. She acknowledges that studying complex legal and financial concepts in a second language was initially difficult, but she adapted quickly. She is writing her Master’s thesis in English. “Law school has helped me become a much better writer, more precise and concise,” she says.
Hedda’s decision to write about the Federal Reserve—her thesis is titled “Collateral Policies—How the Federal Reserve Went from Being a Lender of Last Resort to a Lender of Any Resort”—was informed by her law classes. “My law classes at Vanderbilt have sparked my interest in several fields, and I wanted to write about a topic where I can use my legal studies,” she says.
Hedda recalls finding law classes completely different from her undergraduate finance and economics classes. “When I first came to Vanderbilt, I had never spoken in class before,” she says. “As an undergraduate, I had classes with 500 people. The curriculum was rigid. You were allowed to take only one elective each semester?, and there was no class participation. You weren’t expected to seek out faculty outside of class. Here, the professors are so open and welcoming and willing to help you in all respects.”
By contrast, there are six students in her Transactional Practice seminar with Professor Andrew Kaufman, Class of 1975, a bankruptcy expert who is a senior partner with Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago. “I’m also taking Secured Transactions from Professor Kaufman this semester,” she says. “I think he’s fantastic! He really teaches you how to be a lawyer, because he knows what clients expect and the kinds of skills you need.”
As a 2L, Hedda joined the editorial staff of the
Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law
, and she served as the journal’s Executive Managing Editor in 2011-12. She also served on the board of the Law and Business Society, and completed the Pro Bono Pledge, a program through which students commit to perform a minimum of 75 hours of legal and other community service during their three years at Vanderbilt Law School.
Hedda chose to live near campus. “I don’t have a car, but I can walk everywhere,” she says. “I think Nashville’s a great city. It’s a good size, and Vanderbilt is situated in a great neighborhood with lots of shops and restaurants within walking distance. Most Vanderbilt students are not from Nashville, so it’s not like it would be in other cities where people have established a social base—the students here form a community.”