Wednesday, September 8, 2021

What does a law degree have to do with the craft beer industry? For Scott Selix (JD14), everything.

During his undergraduate years at Iowa, Scott Selix worked part time as a bar manager in North Liberty. By the time he was a 3L at Iowa Law, Big Grove was opening up its first location and Scott saw it as an opportunity to get back into the craft beer industry while obtaining his law degree. 

In the daytime Scott was learning everything he could about the law, but at night he was affirming his passion for brewing with the help of the head brewer at Big Grove

“The head brewer at the time would sometimes let me come back into the brewery and hang out, help him grain out, clean up, little tasks that had almost no impact on the beer. But it solidified my passion for craft beer and brewing,” he said. 

When he graduated from Iowa Law, he left his job at Big Grove and went to work for Dorsey & Whitney in Minneapolis. He fueled his interest in brewing through vacations with his wife, a general manager of multiple craft beer restaurants.  

From Florida to Edinburgh to Brussels to Rome, they visited breweries all over the world. Scott continuously felt a pull to devote more time to the craft beer industry and sought out a way where he could combine his law degree with his passion.  

He went back to Big Grove and acted as both their General Counsel and Lead Brewer. 

“I was already drawn to the industry with my craft beer background during undergrad and law school, but the big things the two careers had in common was people. Both positions allowed me to work with and strategize with people, which is something I enjoy immensely,” he said.

After a few years at Big Grove, Scott and his wife made the move to Des Moines and opened up their own brewery, Lua

For Scott, the most rewarding thing about opening his own brewery has been seeing his employees thrive. He took a big part of what he learned at Big Grove, that having great people and a great team is the most important aspect of success, and applied that to his brewery in Des Moines. 

In just its first year open, Lua earned awards for being a top 50 brewery in the world (Untappd), Best Restaurant in Des Moines (Catch Des Moines), and Best New Restaurant in Des Moines (Catch Des Moines). 

As for how his law degree fits into his current role, Scott has found it to be incredibly useful. 

From trademark applications, tax filings, and business applications to employee manuals and training, Scott is able to do it because of his background in law. 

“You gain an exceptional ability to think critically about problems during law school and as an attorney, so I've become a really great business problem solver,” he said. 

Scott’s degree from Iowa Law has also opened the door for him to join the board of the Iowa Brewers Guild, a 501(c)(6) that works to advance Iowa beer and Iowa breweries, through festivals, lobbying and legislation, and education. He is currently President of the Iowa Brewers Guild and represents almost every brewery in the state of Iowa. 

“It's very rewarding work and has allowed me to meet so many great brewers and owners. I spend a good amount of time each year at the state capitol while the legislature is in session, so I work closely with legislators. And being able to say, "I own Lua but I'm also a licensed attorney," does wonders for credibility when discussing potential changes to Iowa's alcohol laws,” he said. 

His JD and law license also opened the door for him to become a board member for the Iowa Wine and Beer Promotions Board, a publicly funded government organization that works to promote wine and beer, and specifically wine and beer tourism, in Iowa. 

His advice for anyone wanting to pursue their JD and get into the craft beer industry is to simply “go for it.” 

“Whatever industry you're interested in, your law degree makes you infinitely more marketable compared to someone who doesn't have that same degree. Not only are you legally allowed to do work most people can't, but graduating from law school is objective proof to employers that not only are you very talented, but you're willing to work hard to achieve success,” Scott said. 

Lua Brewing