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Groshoff ’96 Moves to Front of Law Classrooms

March 3, 2011 | Alumni

In the nearly 15 years since David Groshoff ’96 graduated from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, he elevated through the ranks of J.P. Morgan, sat on three public corporations’ Boards of Directors, and earned two more graduate degrees.

And if that weren’t enough, the keenly ambitious Groshoff is embarking on a major career change. In August, he began as an assistant professor of law at the Western State University College of Law in Fullerton, Calif.

“I had always been interested in education generally and it was certainly something I was willing to explore, but I never expected it to become my career,” he said. “However, after talking to various professors who I had at various stages, including Professor Whaley, I learned that they all have one consistent theme: being a college faculty member is the best job in the world. So far, I think that is correct.”

A few years after leaving Moritz, Groshoff began as an investment analyst at a Cincinnati-based private investment firm. He would become a senior vice president and associate general counsel of the firm, which was sold to J.P. Morgan in 2005. In all, he spent more than a decade working in the high yield and distressed debt sector as an investment analyst, a discretionary special situations portfolio manager, and an advisor to high profile institutional and governmental clients.

As a result, he became chief legal/chief compliance officer for various public and private J.P. Morgan-related entities. He also served on the Boards of Directors and Audit Committees of three publicly held corporations.

One company that Groshoff was particularly proud to assist was Allis-Chalmers Energy. When Groshoff started on the board, he was joining a company that had only a few hundred thousand dollars of total assets. Today, it trades on the New York Stock Exchange and is a leading supplier of services and equipment to oil and gas exploration and production companies.

“I got involved with the board at some point in my 20s, and other members of the board included the former managing limited partner of the N.Y. Yankees and other hugely successful businesspeople,” he said. “To be in the same board room with people like that and to learn from them at such a young age was an amazing opportunity.”

While working at J.P. Morgan, Groshoff began pursuing his MBA in a part-time evening program at Northern Kentucky University. As he progressed through the degree, he eventually was asked – thanks to his law degree and work experience – to begin teaching graduate level courses at the university. “My first semester teaching there was actually during my final semester as a student,” Groshoff said.

As he continued at J.P. Morgan and was teaching part-time, Groshoff quickly learned he was passionate about education. He decided to apply to just one graduate school of education: Harvard University. “I decided that if I got into Harvard I would change my career and go. If I didn’t, I would remain where I was.” He was accepted and soon enrolled.

Groshoff earned his master’s in education from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education in 2009, completing one-third of his coursework at the Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School. “I wanted to focus on being a good teacher of law and economics, not necessarily the world’s greatest scholar,” he said. “I wanted to enhance my teaching capabilities and secure a job at a school where teaching is very important relative to scholarship.”

He spent the 2009-10 school year at Providence College in Providence, R.I., as an assistant professor of finance. While at Providence, he began interviewing with law schools across the country.

After receiving multiple offers, Groshoff chose Western State because of its focus on instruction, and because it had a business law certificate program and a business law center. He generally focuses his scholarly and research interests on the intersection of law and modern finance as applied to illiquid, distressed, and inefficient assets.

His decision to join Western State also stemmed from helping distressed companies in the past.

“This school has had some challenges. It is the oldest law school in Orange County, and it was originally only accredited by the state,” he said. “A few years ago it received full ABA accreditation, and brought in a new dean and a new vision. To me, it’s about not being afraid of a turnaround situation with new leadership, a new vision, and new people to execute it. It is exciting because you can actually be part of the rise of the school.”