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Emory Law News Center


'Natural mentor’ Tejas Dave 22L takes creativity to bank regulation

Lisa Ashmore |

The popular image of a lawyer is one engaged in fiery cross-examination before a rapt jury. But in reality, attorneys’ work is often a silent calculus. The ability to weigh mounds of data and detail against case law and legislation explains why lawyers are essential to regulation and governance.

Tejas Dave 22L was already a success in high-level finance when he arrived at Emory Law three years ago at age 25. As a research assistant at UC-Berkeley (where he earned an economics degree) he wrote code for quantitative analysis on topics ranging from super PACs to how U.S. monetary policy announcements ripple across global markets. He’s worked at the Federal Reserve twice. He interned on Capitol Hill as an undergrad. He’s also a thoughtful writer who sees the law as both a tool and a boundary.

“The field I want to go into, bank regulation, is constantly changing,” he said. “Every day is a new thing and that sort of constant change is what makes it exciting. And what I hear from a lot of practitioners is that no two days are the same because there's always a new set of challenges.”

One example is the work he did last spring to assist Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Law Kristin Johnson, who recently joined the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The research involved cryptocurrency regulation and her testimony before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee.

“I enjoyed the opportunity to think about the regulatory framework around financial innovation and see how some of that thinking influenced policy discussions,” he said. Dave’s paper for Johnson’s seminar class addressed special purpose bank charters and access to payment rails.

In addition to graduating with high honors and joining the Order of the Coif, Dave will also receive the Keith J. Shapiro Corporate Bankruptcy Writing Award for his paper, “Rethinking Roadblocks to Municipal Bankruptcy,” which argues federal bankruptcy courts could be the best venue to resolve municipal distress. Dave was co-president of Emory Law’s American Constitution Society chapter last year, and a Notes & Comments editor for the Emory Bankruptcy Developments Journal.

While he considered getting a PhD in economics, he ultimately chose law school.

“I was really interested in being back in an environment where you're learning new things every day. Especially during 1L year I felt that every day I was learning something new, and I was learning something new in four or five different classes,” he said. He laughs when asked if he still uses Python or Stata.

“A friend told me how quickly I was going to forget how to code,” he said. “But I thought it was a pretty good way of thinking about law school exams—that you have this fact pattern and all sorts of input that's all over the place. And you put it through this process—the law and the rules that you've learned—and you come out with a conclusion.”

Dave says Emory Law stood out because of its strong alumni network, especially in New York. He attended an admitted students event in the city and was impressed that both Emory Law’s dean and dean of admission attended. “And it was good to see so many [alumni] show up on a weekday evening at 6 p.m.,” he adds. He was already considering practice in New York (where his wife is completing a PhD in neuroscience) and the alumni network made it plain that was possible.

Tejas was a teaching assistant for Kamina A. Pinderdirector of the Professionalism Program and associate professor of practice, and also earned the highest grade in her Contracts class."

“I feel really lucky to be able to teach and mentor such wonderful students,” she said. “But even among such an impressive student body, Tejas is exceptional.” She called him a natural mentor who “consistently pays it forward.”

“He went above and beyond as my teaching assistant—he offered advice on how to perform well in my class, and general law school tips and job search advice. He helped make students feel welcome and supported as they navigated the challenges of the pandemic,” Pinder said. “He is a superstar at Emory and I expect nothing less in the future.”

Following commencement, Dave starts prep for the New York Bar exam and will join the international firm, Debovoise & Plimpton, this fall. He was a summer associate there and recalls

“a lot of discussion about fintech and crypto and how these things interact with the traditional banking sector.” He looks forward to exploring the boundaries and frontiers of global finance.

“There's always room for being creative and being thoughtful; to say if we want to get from A to B then these are the regulations that we have to navigate through,” Dave said. “I think it opens up a lot of creative problem-solving opportunities, and I think that's the kind of stuff that will keep me motivated over the course of years in the future.”