Submitted by mhugard
Practicing attorneys are not the only Deal Makers and Breakers in the corporate setting, and they aren’t the only one with a law degree. This month’s column features Beth Inadomi, a Principal at top government relations and public affairs firm, the Podesta Group. Her full bio appears at the end of the interview.
Ms. Inadomi isn’t the traditional corporate law firm “Deal Maker and Breaker,” but she is definitely a female powerhouse. Below, read how she turned her interest in “space law” into a full-time legal career and created her own path to success.
Did you always have an interest in government, science, and technology?
I graduated UCLA with a degree in Political Science. In college, I focused my work on comparative government and political parties and was interested in the way that people govern themselves. I’ve also always had an interest in the space program. When I was seven or eight years old, a NASA space mobile came to visit my elementary school in Orange County, California. Suddenly, I was captivated by the fact that there was a space craft on its way to Mars and how human ingenuity and technology could figure out a way to get a space craft there, take pictures, and send those images back. From that point on, I always kept track of what the space program was doing.
My father is a retired attorney, and he followed a much more traditional path in the law. He was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles and a partner in a firm in Southern California. When I started law school, it was definitely with an eye of perhaps eventually working with him.
At the time, UC Davis School of Law offered a course on the “Law of Sea, Antarctica, and Outer Space.” The professor was visiting from McGill University, a school in Montreal, Quebec with an air and space law program. There were four of us in the seminar, and even by UC Davis standards, that was small. I found the class really fascinating. There was little case law, few treaties, and lots of academic speculation on the subject. That’s when I started thinking that this was the sort of legal topic that I would be interested in – an area of law that had not been well trod. I even co-authored a Law Review Comment (titled Who’s the Captain Kirk of this Enterprise?: Regulating Outer Space Industry Through Corporate Structures, 18 UC Davis L. Rev. 795 (1985)) on space law.
The other part of this decision-making process was that being a woman, and being a woman of color, I was fairly cautious about my opportunities in a traditional law firm, and I was a little more hesitant to go down that path. It was about this time I realized that I was not interested in transactional work, and it propelled me to do something that was much more outside the box. It made me look at things that were less traditional and more policy oriented.
What was your first legal position outside of law school?
While some of my colleagues were off working in nice, lucrative jobs at law firms, I took a 6-month position with the NASA Ames Research Center for $2,000 a month and no guarantees.