Photo of Kathy Kim Carpenter

Kathy Kim Carpenter

Business Development Manager Microsoft Corporation

Kathy Kim Carpenter isn’t a practicing attorney, but that doesn’t stop her from applying her legal education on the job.

“There’s so much I got out of going to law school that I use every day in business — whether it’s dealing with issues of contract performance, delivery, compliance or something else,” she said. “Legal training encourages you to ask questions, to really drill down and get to the important details and bring different perspectives to the situation.”

Carpenter, a 1995 graduate of the Seattle University School of Law, is a business development manager with Microsoft Corporation’s interactive entertainment business division. She negotiates a variety of agreements with third party publishers of video games, working to build business relationships and develop strategic partnerships with companies for Microsoft platforms such as Xbox and Windows Phone.

After law school, Carpenter started her career in a more traditional way — working at a small law firm, then as a bailiff in King County Superior Court, and then as a staff attorney with the Associated Counsel for the Accused. Along the way, she had kept in touch with other law school alumni who had gone to work for technology companies. She took a risk and made the leap to the business world herself in 2000 as a licensing coordinator for Microsoft products for Xbox.

Even though a juris doctor degree isn’t required for her current job, she said she still finds that her time in law school was well-spent.

“In law school, we learned about the IRAC method for problem solving – Issue, Rule, Application and Conclusion,” she said. “That process is really beneficial to analyzing problems in the business world.”

Microsoft employs plenty of lawyers in various legal capacities, but Carpenter said there are also quite a few people like her. Most are members of the “Non LCA Attorneys” group – in other words, attorneys who don’t work in Legal and Corporate Affairs.

The company also sponsors in-house CLEs for its LCA attorneys, and non-LCA attorneys are also encouraged to attend. Carpenter earns enough credits through company-sponsored and other CLE opportunities to maintain her Washington State Bar Association license. She doesn’t need to have an active license for her position, but she keeps it active for opportunities like volunteering for a neighborhood legal clinic in her spare time.

Carpenter also spoke with law students at Seattle University School of Law’s non-traditional job fair to encourage others. “Going into nontraditional work shouldn’t be out of desperation,” she said. “You should be confident about not having ‘attorney at law’ after your name. Times have changed, where you’re not longer an anomaly if you have a law degree and are an active member of the bar, but being a lawyer isn’t your profession.”