Inspired by a friend's e-commerce business, Gokare set out to pursue a career in corporate law.
Friday, April 14, 2023

Apoorva Gokare began her legal education at Alliance University in Bangalore, India. In India— where Gokare was born a raised—a law degree is earned by completing a five-year professional program immediately after high school. 

During her time at Alliance University, Gokare discovered her passion for corporate law after being approached by two childhood friends who had founded an e-commerce clothing company. Despite facing financial constraints, the friends sought Gokare’s legal assistance, which not only kindled her interest in corporate law but also highlighted her proficiency in the field. 

“At first, I was delighted to help my friends, but as I began this journey, I figured I was in a less defined territory,” she says. “There were minimal directions and much fewer blueprints on advising a start-up company. As a neophyte in law, I had to delve deep to understand laws related to the establishment of small businesses and corporations. Luckily, my university was among the top business schools in India, and I had access to the key materials with which I could assist my friends’ company in the right direction.” 

The experience proved to be a pivotal moment in Gokare’s academic journey, igniting her intellectual curiosity and sparking a passion for business law. After graduating with honors, Gokare made plans to relocate to the U.S. with her family to further her legal career and pursue her interest in corporate law. 

“Because I had a foreign law degree, I was specifically looking for 2-year Advanced Standing JD programs in the US,” she says. “Iowa Law had a great reputation and an in-state tuition fee from the second semester of the 1L year, which was a major attraction. However, what really lured me here was hearing from alums about the small and tight-knit law school community and the Midwest-nice and welcoming culture towards international students.” 

Prior to her enrollment at Iowa Law, Gokare secured internships with Indian Hotels Company Ltd. and Mind Merchants Pvt. Ltd., where she was able to apply her theoretical knowledge to practice, learn aspects of corporate governance, and gain experience in global compliance and risk management. 

During her transition to the U.S., Gokare also took a productive gap year where she worked remotely as an associate for data security projects at Special Counsel and legal intern at an immigration law firm in Georgia. 

At Iowa Law, she enrolled in Business Associations during her first year, and prioritized corporate-heavy courses such as Bankruptcy, Start-up and Emerging Companies, Contract Drafting, M&A, Deals, Negotiations, and Nonprofits during her final year. 

These courses allowed her to meet two professors that have greatly impacted her experience at Iowa Law, Professor Joseph Yockey, Professor Lorie Schweer, and Professor John C. Reitz.  

“Professor Schweer was my LAWR-1 professor during the first semester of law school. She is one of the sweetest human beings I have ever met,” says Gokare. “She was super helpful and patient with me, and always welcoming and eager to help. In the second semester, she took me in as her RA and ever since I have worked closely with her. She has been academically and personally very supportive. She has always encouraged me, and I can’t thank her enough for being there for me throughout.” 

Gokare took Business Associations with Professor Yockey and came to admire his expertise in corporate law and his humble personality. 

“He is a wise, warm, and caring man with a gentle sense of humor, passionate and enthusiastic about everything he does. During my second year, I opted to do independent research under him for my writing credits. He guided me in finalizing my topic for the paper, chalking out the structure, and was very prompt with his feedback,” she says.

Professors Yockey and Schweer think just as highly of her.  

“Apoorva has done a great deal to build community within the school and is a constant source of positive energy for us all. She is an excellent leader and a loyal friend and teammate” says Schweer.  

“Apoorva is truly special. Her joy, kindness, wisdom, and generosity strengthen our community in countless ways. I will miss her terribly when she graduates, but I can’t wait to watch all the amazing things she will accomplish in her practice and beyond. I couldn’t be prouder of her,” added Yockey. 

Along with Yockey and Schweer, Professor John C. Reitz, who retired in 2022, not only served as Gokare’s faculty advisor, but was considered a mentor to her as well. “I first met with him the week before classes started and he gave me an overview of life as an Iowa Law student.” “During my first semester,” says Gokare “I took a class with him - ‘Introduction to US Law and Legal System.’ It was especially helpful for understanding IL classes like CivPro and Constitutional Law. I wouldn’t have known about this class if he hadn’t been my faculty advisor. Outside of class, I would also go to him with questions about choosing classes or seeking advice on job applications. He has always been very supportive of me. Though I am sad he retired after my first year, I am sure I will go back to him often for some life advice!” 

In addition to her coursework, Gokare took advantage of the many opportunities to get involved with student organizations. She began as the International Student Representative for ISBA and became the Co-president of the South Asian Law Students Association (SALSA) during her second semester. She was also a member of ILSA, DEI Committee, and OWLSS. Currently, she is the International Student Rep on ISBA, Co-president of SALSA, a Student Ambassador, DEI chair of OWLSS, and a Peer Advisor for the Career Services Office. 

“Each position on these different student org boards has helped me hone my leadership and professional skills,” says Gokare. “They’ve helped me learn more about myself and my strengths as well as shaped my skills in effective interaction with others, like communication, attitude, and work ethic. Furthermore, they have provided me with an opportunity to network with like-minded people and get to know my peers closely. I found a few of my closest friends through these orgs, and I hope to keep those bonds going for a long time.” 

Gokare built a strong connection with Iowa Law's Career Services Office, even before she started her legal education. As an ASJD student, she was required to begin her job search and application process during the summer preceding her 1L year, since most of the 2L summer positions are available between May and August of the preceding year. 

“Starting law school in a different country was already so overwhelming, and on top of that having to start looking for jobs and interviewing when I had no idea about what the employers were seeking made the process even more challenging,” says Gokare. “I don’t have an LLM, and I came straight from India. I didn’t have US transcripts, or a US writing sample. It was challenging to explain my whole 1L/2L situation to the employers during my interview, but Iowa Law career services, especially Tami [Diebel], helped me organize all my application materials. I did a mock interview with her where she gave me feedback on how I could convey my story to employers. Additionally, Career Services had various webinars during the summer to give us an overview of what to expect.” 

During her only summer throughout her time at Iowa Law, Gokare ended up interning at Morris Nichols in Wilmington, Delaware. “I was specific about getting a position on the east coast. First, because there is a lot of scope to grow in the corporate law area, and second, I wanted to be close to my family in Philly. I was fortunate to get a summer position at Morris Nichols, a full corporate firm in Delaware, which is at the heart of business law,” she says. 

After graduation, Gokare plans to take the bar exam in Delaware, where she will then return to Morris Nichols as a full-time associate within their corporate counseling/commercial counseling practice group. 

“Now I can say that I made the right decision to come here because Iowa Law helped me to launch my career in corporate law,” she says.