Rick Apple became director of the Council & Enhanced Tennessee Fund, a private equity fund, after graduating in 2012. Apple had worked part-time as a director of the fund, whch focuses on Tennessee-based companies since the beginning of his 3L year. Apple got the job after serving a work-study internship with Council Capital, the Nashville-based private equity firm that started the fund, during the 2010-11 academic year. In addition to directing the private equity fund, he is his firm’s first in-house attorney. While he also received an enticing offer to practice corporate law with a major firm, the opportunity to manage a private equity fund proved irresistible. “I’m certainly thrilled that I made the decision to come to Vanderbilt,” Apple said. “It’s already opened doors for me.”
After studying applied mathematics and financial engineering at Princeton, Apple spent three years in Manhattan as an analyst in the industrial growth investment banking group at Wachovia Securities, now part of Wells Fargo, and as a risk-management and portfolio modeling consultant with the global financial services firm Oliver Wyman before entering Vanderbilt’s JD/MBA program. The four-year JD/MBA track was a natural choice for Apple, who began taking courses at Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management in 2008, the same year that his wife, a Nashville native whom he met while both were undergraduates at Princeton, entered Vanderbilt Medical School as a member of its class of 2012. “Vanderbilt offered highly ranked graduate programs in medicine, law and business, which made it a great option for both of us,” he said.
At the law school, Apple naturally gravitated toward courses in Vanderbilt’s Law and Business curriculum and has taken three courses from the program’s director, Randall Thomas, an expert in corporate and securities law, including the Law and Business Seminar. “Vanderbilt’s faculty is one of its defining strengths,” he said. “Professors here are high-performing and very capable on a professional, intellectual level, but they are also very approachable and friendly.”
Apple particularly liked the fact that faculty, including Thomas, who holds a Ph.D. in economics as well as a law degree, bring a mix of academic expertise and practical experience to the classroom. “One big advantage of the Law and Business program is that the coursework combines legal theory with real-life business situations,” Apple said.
In addition to taking courses from Thomas, tax expert Herwig Schlunk, and Tracey George, who directs Vanderbilt’s Cecil D. Branstetter Litigation and Dispute Resolution Program, Apple took Bankruptcy from Bill Norton, a 1984 Vanderbilt Law graduate who is a nationally renowned bankruptcy practitioner with Bradley Arant Boult Cumming as well as the author of a definitive treatise on bankruptcy law; Professional Responsibility from Justin Wilson, a 1970 Vanderbilt Law graduate who serves as Tennessee’s state comptroller; and Campaign Law from a fellow Princeton graduate, Bob Cooper, who serves as Tennessee’s attorney general.
“I really appreciated having practitioners teach in the relevant areas of corporate law,” Apple said, “and it was wonderful to learn about campaign law from Tennessee’s attorney general. I chose to take Professional Responsibility from Justin Wilson because of the opportunity to tap into his wealth of experience in private practice and public service, and he invited our class to his home. At Vanderbilt, I’ve enjoyed the personal access to high-level scholars and practitioners than I expected from law or business school.”
Apple and his wife originally focused on schools in the Southeast because that’s where they hoped to settle, and the couple bought a house when they moved to Nashville. “We lived in a closet in New York,” he said. “At Vanderbilt, we could have the intellectual rigor combined with a better work/life balance. And I have greatly enjoyed having a small yard.”
Apple’s wife, Rachel Price Apple, will begin her residency in the combined internal medicine and pediatrics program at Vanderbilt Medical Center after graduating from medical school this spring. “We had hoped to stay in Nashville, and we’re thrilled,” he said.