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Emory Law News Center


Blackburn uses skills from JM degree to identify and mitigate clients' risk

Chris Blackburn JM graduate

Graduating from Emory Law's Juris Master program in 2020, Chris Blackburn, MBA, LEED is CEO of Cornerstone Team, a development and construction management consulting firm, and a former US Army captain. Chris shares some of his experiences in the program and how he has been able to apply his studies to his career.

Why did you decide to enroll in the JM program?

I deal with legal issues frequently on construction projects, and I was seeking a better understanding of the law as it relates to my field so that I could stop relying on questionable answers from non-lawyers. After I researched multiple non-JD law programs, I determined that Emory easily had the most robust, reputable program in the Atlanta area.

How did the degree format work with your life?

It is an extremely flexible program. For me, the key was meeting with the helpful staff and developing a strategy going in.

How are you applying what you've learned to your career?

I run a construction consulting company, and understanding the law is critical. Most individuals in my industry know what they have been told or what they have seen play out, which is not always the “right answer.” This program is giving me the tools to correctly identify my clients’ risks and how to mitigate or manage them. I do not replace a lawyer, but my skills allow me to know when I need to work with one, and how to enhance what they bring to the table at the same time.

What has been the best thing about your experience so far?

I believe in lifetime learning, and also believe individuals should invest their time and resource in things that will show a return on that investment. During the JM program, I’ve been able to immerse myself in an environment surrounded by some of the brightest learners – people who have different perspectives – and it’s rocket fuel that pushes me to expand and set new goals in my career and life in general.

What advice do you have to professionals considering a JM?

Jump – stop looking for a good time to start and just begin the program. It was a bad time to join the military when I did. It was a bad time to start my MBA. It was a bad time to start my business. It was a bad time to start my JM. I’m not sure where I would be if I had waited for the “right time” to have done these things, but I know I would not be where I’m at today.