Alumni Q&A: Grace Fu '09 on Working as In-House Counsel at Tiger Management
Grace Fu, a 2009 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, is deputy general counsel of Tiger Management, an investment management firm based in New York City.
Before joining Tiger, Fu worked at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom from 2009-14. She recently discussed her career path, and offered advice for others interested in pursuing in-house counsel positions.
What does your role with Tiger Management entail?
I am deputy general counsel, so I work directly with the general counsel on all legal and compliance matters pertaining to the business, which has many facets. A unique part of the business is our seeding and incubation platform for emerging hedge fund managers. In connection with this platform, I draft and negotiate strategic partnership agreements and consult with portfolio managers on legal, regulatory and compliance issues. I also manage and execute private equity, hedge fund and venture capital investments. Additionally, our structure includes two nonprofit organizations, which I advise on governance and grant-making activities, as well as substantial New Zealand real estate and private investments for which, in conjunction with local counsel, I provide legal and tax advice. I also regularly tackle legal issues relating to intellectual property, technology, employment, real estate and litigation. In summary, my job is extremely diverse, which I love.
What made Tiger Management stand out to you?
Three things: the reputation, the work and the people. Tiger has an amazing track record — both in terms of performance and commitment to ethics — under the leadership of Julian Robertson. As a result, the work is highly sophisticated and complex, and the people who work at Tiger are some of the brightest, most impressive people I've ever met. It makes coming to work each day extremely rewarding and invigorating.
What was your career path? What led you to your current position?
Prior to law school, I was an analyst at an investment bank in New York City. Although I enjoyed finance, the parts of my job that touched upon the law were often the most exciting to me. Uncertain whether I'd like the law more, I took a leap of faith and enrolled at UVA Law, where I took courses relating to law and business. After law school, I worked at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, where I was a corporate associate for five years. Skadden was an excellent place to start my career — it's the kind of place where the work you do is reflective of your ability and willingness to learn, so I learned a lot in a short period of time. I greatly enjoyed my time at Skadden, where I represented numerous clients on various matters, but I made the move in-house because I wanted to focus more on the strategic, business and operational aspects of a single client.
How did you get interested in the kind of law you're practicing?
While at Skadden, I worked in both the Investment Management Group and the Mergers & Acquisitions group. IMG exposed me to the industry, while M&A exposed me to different types of law (intellectual property, tax, employment, real estate, anti-trust, regulatory, litigation) and to different types of clients (public and private, large and small). As I progressed in my career, I was consistently intrigued by the always-changing nature of the investment management industry, especially in light of ongoing regulatory reforms. I also liked finance and math, so going into the investment management field made sense. An in-house role at an asset management firm was an ideal way to combine my background with my interests and skills.
What do you like to do outside of work? Any special interests?
I love traveling, especially internationally. When my brother and I were growing up, our parents would pull us out of school to take us on trips. By the time we were in middle school, we had been to most states in the United States and several countries abroad. As an adult, I've loved traveling to faraway places, like India and Morocco, and immersing myself in the history and culture. I also enjoy running, which helps me clear my head while allowing me to stay active.
Do you have advice for law students or alums who are interested in following a similar career path?
In-house jobs come in different shapes and sizes (with respect to industry, size of company or team, geography and culture), so it's important to think through what interests and motivates you. In this regard, it was especially helpful for me to speak with others, particularly in-house lawyers, and to listen to what they do and how they got to where they are. If you are currently practicing, think about the clients you most like working with and why, and whether working with them full-time is appealing. I think it's important to love your work, because when you view your job as engaging and fun, you are better positioned to thrive — you have a greater willingness to learn and the people around you are also more willing to teach and mentor you.
In what ways did your UVA Law experience help prepare you for your career?
UVA Law provides its law students with an excellent legal foundation by training them to think critically and analytically. That training and education have been invaluable to me as an associate at a law firm and as an in-house attorney. Equally as important, the school's emphasis on camaraderie prepared me for the everyday practice of this profession, where working closely and productively with colleagues and clients is paramount.
Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.