Dual JD/MBA student touts the value of legal marketing


by Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

After graduating from Marygrove College with a degree in business and marketing, Joseph Zannetti worked as a procurement agent for DTE Energy—which inspired him to go a step further and study law.

The DTE job included leading contract bids, purchasing, and company relations for corporate departments, and assisting senior buyers. He conducted negotiations for cost savings, terms and conditions disagreements, blanket contracts, scope of work, requests for proposals, and bid opportunities; led and managed a summer internship program; and attended affinity conferences to network with diverse, women-owned, and Michigan-owned businesses.

“After working for DTE, I realized there’s so much out there I didn’t know, especially in regards to the law,” says Zannetti—who as a result of this  enrolled in the dual JD/MBA program at Wayne State University, and is now a 2L.

“I’d ideally like to stay on the business route as that’s my passion,” he says. “I believe the MBA will help further this passion and allow me to work for a prominent business law firm or corporation.”

Zannetti notes that “Marketing” encompasses personal skills, sales, public speaking, psychology, and art.

“It’s used in everything every day,” he says. “I knew I wanted to go into business and I thought of marketing as the ‘fun’ side of business yet still important to companies to drive sales and retain clients.”

He points out that lawyers need to know how to market—not only for traditional print, TV, and billboard ads but marketing on a day-to-day basis.

“We need to be able to sell ourselves to potential clients, before we even get to practice law,” he says. “We need to sell ourselves in the preliminary consultation or presentation when trying to retain a business client.”

Vice President of the Federalist Society, Zannetti will spearhead the organization as president in his 3L year. The society brings speakers to debate, lecture, or have open conversation on legal and public interest “hot” topics; a recent speaker talked about freedom of religion, and future topics include legalization of marijuana, freedom of speech, and Second Amendment rights.

“The Society is founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be,” Zannetti explains. “The Society seeks both to promote an awareness of these principles and to further their application through its activities—and its chief goal is to foster balanced and open debate about the fundamental principles of individual freedom, limited government, and judicial restraint.”
The Society holds a student symposium every summer, and one law student from every law school is chosen to attend. This past summer Zannetti attended a cocktail party at the Supreme Court and met Justice Alito.

Working at the law school’s Journal of Business Law, he has chosen to write a legal note on autonomous vehicles.  “We’re up for publishing if our note is chosen,” he says. “I also have the opportunity to review a note and publish it as well.”
As vice president of External Affairs for the Entrepreneurship and Business Law Society, Zannetti organizes networking opportunities and speaking events.  “This year we’re planning to have the business portion of the Michigan bar come to Wayne Law and have a panel discussion,” he says.

He is further steeped in business law by participating in the Transactional Law Competition, sponsored by Jaffe. On Nov. 9, his team won the competition, going 4-0 during negotiations and winning the best buyer's contract, and will move ahead to the regional competition.

Zannetti also participates in the Oakland County Bar Association American Inns of Court Program, where his team’s topic this year is on Global Clients.

“Our job is to narrow down the topic, research, and compile a report and give a presentation to the rest of the group,” he says.

Last year’s clerkship at The Cincinnati Insurance Compa-nies in Troy exposed Zannetti to a side of law/business he had previously not experienced. “Every day was different,” he says. “My work entailed writing and filing complaints, motions, case briefs, and memoranda in defense of insured for dental malpractice, medical malpractice, subrogation, and home and auto insurance related incidents.”   

He also conducted research for and attended depositions, settlements, negotiations, mock trials, and trials; gained experience during all stages of subrogation process, including obtaining default judgments, court certification for unsatisfied judgments, and bank garnishments; observed settlement discussions; and drafted motions to set aside conditional dismissals.

A recently completed externship for GKN Driveline in Auburn Hills provided the opportunity to network and work in the field of law he intends to practice in. He reviews and analyzes contracts, POs, change orders, and terms and conditions to solve problems arising throughout the contracting process. 

“I also research and write memoranda for corporate legal advice relating to internal and external issues, compile research and conduct PowerPoint presentations to educate business units on legal topics, and draft waiver and consent agreements,” he says.

Currently working at Ottenwess, Taweel, and Schenk in Detroit, supporting the Business Litigation and Medical Malpractice areas, Zannetti appreciates Wayne Law’s connection to the state of Michigan and to the City of Detroit. 

“I want to stay in Michigan after graduation and I love this city,” he says.