Howard Charney MBA ’73, J.D. ’77 studied quantum physics, differential equations, and engineering, but he calls law school “the most intellectually challenging education I undertook.” His belief that a knowledge of law—and how it underpins business and deal-making—was a key reason he and his wife, Alida, gave $10 million to build Santa Clara Law’s new home.
Howard Charney is a former Cisco senior vice president who co-founded 3Com and Grand Junction Networks. He delivered the commencement address to the School of Law on May 19 in the University’s Mission Gardens.
He initially had no intention of going to law school. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering at MIT. At Santa Clara, he took a required class as an MBA student: Business and the Law. He learned how law is the backdrop and the arbiter of boundaries for major interactions in life. “This is fascinating,” he decided. Understanding law “makes you more competent, and more facile, including in deals and arrangements, and that’s what life’s about.”