Throughout the summer, both friends and family have been persistently asking: “What are you up to, and where are you working?” It’s not exactly simple to explain what we do given the breadth and depth of all the work CRA does. So in a very poor attempt at explaining what it is we do at CRA, I try to analytically run them through our operations clients and deliverables. While my friends stare at me in confusion, I simply say as it is now custom in CRA—“We do math for lawyers.”
Although I have had an incredible experience here, I didn’t always want to work in economic consulting. Actually, before October of last year I had no idea what economic consulting really was. Now I know we essentially advise corporations, law firms, and public institutions in all matters finance, intellectual property, competition, and even healthcare—we sell knowledge and expertise, and we do it very well. But why would someone be interested in doing all that? Well, for that we’ll have to back up just a bit.
You probably don’t know this but I am originally from Caracas, Venezuela. This tropical paradise has endured a particularly difficult economic downturn in recent history—there’s enormous scarcity levels, no flour, no rice, no sugar, and the same government for the past 17 years. Growing up in that context you couldn’t help but wonder what is the root of this problem and how do we correct it? My interest in economics comes from these types of questions I have been asking for quite some time. My interest in the law comes from my father and grandmother, both lawyers and professors at our local university. In an attempt to answer these questions and better prepare myself for the apparently turbulent future of Venezuela, I enrolled in the University of Chicago to study economics.
At this point, I thought economics and law were a mix that was exclusively confined to the classroom or maybe even public office, and I never imagined that this combination could have such an interesting space in the consulting world. So I naturally opted to explore a career in the very broadly defined financial services. I have worked in different types of roles and firms that eventually led to CRA—I worked in a Latin American investment banking division, a hedge fund designing low volatility portfolios and fundamental research on investment strategies, and I passed through a private equity firm looking at trade flows between US exporters and Latin America. I even worked as a research assistant in the Department of Economics under Professors Steven Levitt and John List, but as my junior year was off to a swift start, there was no sight of a private practice that combined law and economics.
After coming to CRA, through the usual campus recruiting channels, I realized this is exactly where I wanted to be. The quality of work, the people, and the work-life balance made me grateful to be part of a team that can answer the questions I’ve been asking for years. It’s only been two months and I’ve been fortunate enough to work alongside renowned professors and experienced practitioners in a wide array of cases—the valuation of different companies and appraisal of an acquired business, mergers of insurance companies, fraudulent trading insurance claims, and even the capital contributions of an incredibly complicated contract, it truly feels like I’ve found my niche, and I hope you find yours too!
“Try & Hire” internship experience at CRA Zurich amid the COVID-19 pandemic
José Bila is an associate in the Life Sciences Practice based in Zurich. He joined CRA in June 2020 as part of the Swiss “Try & Hire” program, where...