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Student Spotlight

UH Law Center rising 3L Natalie Diala lands fall externship with Securities and Exchange Commission  

University of Houston Law Center student Alexandra Grafton will graduate in May.

University of Houston Law Center student Natalie Diala.

May 15, 2019 — University of Houston Law Center student Natalie Diala will begin her third year of law school in August by traveling to Washington, D.C., for an externship with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission.

“I feel like the SEC experience will push me in the right direction for the career that I’m hoping to head into,” she said.

Diala anticipates her time at the SEC will expose her to essential components of corporate law, an area in which she aspires to one day practice.

“It seems like I will be in the corporate finance department, which is going to be right up my alley of what I’m hoping to do when I become a corporate and securities attorney,” she said. “That branch of the SEC will deal with public filings for public companies and initial public offerings.”

Despite initially feeling unsure about a practice field, Diala gradually developed a passion for corporate law via a summer 2018 internship with Baker Botts and courses at the Law Center. She feels her upcoming externship is confirmation of her career choice.

“I didn’t know what area of law I was interested in at all in my 1L year,” she said. “This was the cherry on top that confirmed that I’m going in the right direction.”

The interview for the SEC externship was conducted over the phone, and Diala was hired on the spot.

“That was amazing. I honestly was not expecting that at all,” she said. “I felt like the interview went relatively well so I was like, ‘OK, I feel good about it. Hopefully I’ll hear back from them in two weeks,’ and when they offered it I actually yelled on the phone, ‘Oh my God!’”

Diala attributes part of her success in securing the externship to Professor Douglas Moll, whose Business Organizations class solidified her corporate law interests.

“He really put his neck out for me,” she said. “He wrote this amazing recommendation letter for me and also put me in contact with some of his contacts in the SEC to get us connected, and he allowed me to ask them questions and see what their experience was like.”

In addition to Moll, Diala is thankful for Assistant Dean for Career Development Tiffany Tucker who helped her with the application materials, and for her family for supporting her throughout law school.

“Honestly, I’m just really grateful for the opportunity,” Diala said. “Being in law school — there’s a lot of ups, there’s a lot of downs. It’s very much a rollercoaster ride, so when the highs come I’m just really trying to sit in it and appreciate it.”