Kyle R. Williams, JD ’01
Executive Director & Senior Counsel for Finance and Corporate Legal, Goldman Sachs International, London
For Kyle Williams, JD ’01, law school prepared him for the challenges of his current career in global investment banking in London. As a summer associate at Bryan Cave LLP, Williams got his first taste of what would become his career focus. After the partner he worked for gave him an assignment related to securities law, he knew it was a field he had to pursue. The next summer, he went to New York to be closer to the financial markets. “At that point I was completely hooked,” he says.
After graduation, Williams spent five years at Davis Polk & Wardwell as a capital markets and derivatives lawyer before leaving to join Goldman Sachs to become a corporate finance and corporate treasury lawyer. When an opportunity for Williams to relocate to London with Goldman Sachs arose, Williams and his wife, Brenda Zelin, JD ’06—then an executive compensation and employment benefits attorney at Shearman & Sterling in New York—took it.
Williams says the challenges of international work have turned out to be the most exciting part of his job. He spends his days getting advice from experts who know the rules and history in different jurisdictions, and synthesizing that information into recommendations for the company. This experience is just one in a career path that he says has opened a lot of doors for him.
“The entire time I’ve stayed pretty true to my originally blind mission of wanting to be a capital markets lawyer, but I have done it in multiple places and in multiple aspects of capital markets—straight capital markets, in derivatives, and in securitized derivative capital markets,” he says.
Williams credits Washington University School of Law with his success, but more importantly Williams says, he gets excited about the people he met and relationships he built here. One of his lasting impressions of law school is the accessibility of the faculty. “I spent a lot of time seeking out my professors who made me feel, when I got out class, that intellectually something had changed or that I understood something a different way,” he says.
With a finance degree and background working with a mutual fund before law school, he says he enjoyed the shift in focus. “Intellectually it was challenging – it was enjoyable,” he recalls. During law school, Williams was an editor on the Washington University Law Review and spent a semester interning at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit through the Judicial Clerkship Externship.
A member of the law school’s National Council, Williams now tries to help current students get the same strong foundation he received.
“For me, many of those people who are responsible for helping me to do all of these interesting things that I do now, and be the person that I am now, are still doing that for students at the law school,” he says. “In a lot of ways, I’ve stayed connected to the law school because I want the law school to continue doing what it does so well and because my experience there meant so much to me.”