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Veronique Vernot: Hitting the Ground Running at Mercedes-Benz

UPDATE: Nikki Vernot '17 began her legal career as an in-house counsel at Mercedes-Benz in Atlanta. In February 2020, she started a new job as legal counsel at Apple.

WVU Law 2017 Graduate Veronique Vernot

The same day Veronique Vernot found out that she passed the Georgia Bar Exam, she received an e-mail from Mercedes-Benz USA. The company wanted to schedule a digital interview with her for an in-house counsel position at its Atlanta headquarters.

“It was an awesome day!” recalled the 2017 WVU Law graduate.

The digital (video) interview went well and Vernot, just months out of law school, was asked to participate in a formal application process that spanned approximately two months and involved multiple exams and in-person interviews.

In the end, Vernot was asked to join the team and work in Atlanta at Mercedes Benz-USA.

She is now a product liability attorney for the company, serving as in-house counsel on pre-litigation and litigation claims that stem from Mercedes products. Vernot has loved cars since she was a little girl, and believing in the Mercedes brand makes her more passionate about her work.

That passion has earned her co-workers’ respect, she says.

WVU Law 2017 graduate Veronique Vernot

“As a first-year attorney, I thought I would be taking on smaller projects or just supporting others in their work, but Mercedes trained me well and has allowed me to take my ideas and run with them,” she explained. “I feel like I play a major role on my team and I am doing important work.”

Vernot came to WVU Law with the goal of becoming an in-house counsel and she took advantage of the College’s JD/Online MBA dual-degree program.

“The joint JD/Online MBA at WVU helped me think further than just the legal side of things when advising a client and to consider factors like future profitability, marketing, and financial plans,” said Vernot. “Every day, I combine my legal skills with my business education to make a thorough recommendation to our business partners.”

She has hit the ground running in her career at Mercedes-Benz, but before Vernot beat out thousands of other applicants for her position, she had to rely on her experiences at WVU Law to set her apart in her interviews.

Vernot had a lot to talk about in her job interviews.

She discussed the differences in the American and Brazilian legal systems that she learned while studying abroad in Brazil.

“Telling a team of very experienced attorneys about that time I lived along the Amazon River definitely caught their attention during my interview,” Vernot said. “Not only was I able to talk about an experience that was really exciting for me, but it was something they weren’t expecting and might not have heard before.”

She talked about how her first internship as a law clerk with Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, solidified her desire to go in-house. And about how she applied what she learned in her civil procedures class going into her 2L year as a summer associate with Burns White LLC in Pittsburgh.

She reflected on WVU Law’s open-door policy that drew her in as a prospective student, and the channels of communication it opens with faculty that allowed her to form deeper working relationships with professors and their professional network while gaining valuable legal insights.

It was through a connection at WVU Law that Vernot learned about the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys and she gained a mentor through the organization — Adwoa Ghartey-Tagoe Seymour.  She is Assistant General Counsel for Cox Enterprises in Atlanta.

“Being an in-house counsel was my goal in law school and even before law school, so to be able to speak with someone who works in an in-house position and ask her questions was a great opportunity for me when I was a student,” Vernot explained.

Vernot also told Mercedes-Benz about the opportunity she had at WVU Law to participate in mock trials and moot court as a 1L, which sparked her passion for litigation.

It was her mock trial coach, former West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Larry Starcher , who helped Vernot return to Atlanta in the fall semester of her 3L year.

That semester, Vernot was a Legal Extern at the IRS Office of Chief Counsel, Large Business and International, as well as a Judicial Extern to Presiding Judge Anne E. Barnes at the Court of Appeals of Georgia.

“Justice Starcher personally called Judge Barnes and gave me a great recommendation. What more can you ask for, than for a former West Virginia Supreme Court Justice to give a personal recommendation on your behalf? My externships allowed me to work in Georgia, which is where I wanted to live after law school, and network with attorneys there.” she explained. “WVU Law provides many of these kinds of opportunities to students, and I think that sets it apart from other law schools.”

Vernot earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing in 2014 from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. She earned her JD from the WVU College of Law and her Online MBA from the WVU College of Business and Economics in 2017. 

November 30, 2018
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