February 09, 2021 • By Christine Byrd
“Is that Justice?” asks Justice Turner, J.D., MBA ’20, in a series of videos that have garnered more than 100,000 views on social media in just a few weeks. Wearing his signature bowtie, Turner leverages both his UCI law and business degrees to unpack topics like student loan debt and the federal COVID-19 relief bill.
“The reception has been amazing and humbling,” says Turner. As a newly minted attorney at the Los Angeles-based Geragos & Geragos, he is no stranger to high-profile legal and political matters: he works on quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s legal team.
The “Is that Justice?” videos are produced and shared by MeidasTouch, a political action committee formed by three brothers including Ben Meiselas, a partner at the law firm where Turner works.
“It started out just as water cooler talk about how much social injustice is going on. But when I started following what Ben and his brothers were doing with MeidasTouch on social media, I could see their passion, and it inspired me not to sit on the sidelines anymore,” says Turner. “If you want to see change, you have to be change.”
Growing in new directions
Turner didn’t set out to go into business or law. Named after baseball player David Justice, he grew up an avid sports fan and athlete in Kansas City, Missouri, and then studied sports management at Hampton University, a Historically Black College & University located in Virginia.
Seeking the California sun and a career as a sports agent, he applied to law schools in California. Once at UCI, his career plans evolved.
“The more I learned in law school, the more I wanted to go into litigation to help minorities and others who didn’t have as much to be successful,” says Turner. “I altered my path from sports agent, to instead going into courtrooms to use this name Justice to my benefit.”
Turner was also interested in a business degree, and when he realized how highly ranked the Merage School was, he decided to pursue the joint J.D./MBA program.
“Both programs were really welcoming and happy to work with me,” says Turner. “They wanted me to grow as much as I wanted to grow.”
Building business acumen
His 18 months in the Merage School were life-changing for Turner. He traveled out of the country for the first time in his life. In a trip to Colombia, Turner was impressed by the coffee industry, the benefit-corporations working on aiding environmental efforts and of course, the great food.
“The Colombia trip was an experience I’ll never forget,” Turner says. “It opened my eyes, and I’ll always be thankful to the Merage School for that.”
Through another Merage course, Turner worked on a consulting project for Irvine-based Karma Automotive, an electric vehicle start-up. Turner and classmates helped the Silicon Valley-style start-up standardize their tools and processes for better efficiency.
Incorporated across all of his classes, Turner says, was the role of ever-evolving technology.
“Every facet of the Merage School incorporates digital disruption,” says Turner. “They want you to realize the world is going to be fast-paced, technology driven. You have to keep up or you’ll be left behind. We’re all trying to find our way and understand how the world is changing.”
Most of all, the Merage School equipped Turner with the people skills to succeed in any environment: developing a team mindset, collaborating with colleagues from diverse backgrounds and becoming a champion networker.
“I learned you should never walk into a room where you’re not prepared to talk to anyone in there,” says Turner.
While Turner focuses on civil and criminal litigation for his clients at Geragos & Geragos, he leverages his business degree regularly.
“I feel that the MBA from the Merage School gives me the opportunity to approach my legal work with a different or added perspective,” he says, “For example, I can speak more aptly on possible financial ramifications of differing legal paths that might reach the same goal but have a disparate impact on my client's sustainability efforts.”
Already, Turner is proving that his connection with the Merage School will be long-lasting.
While Turner prepared for his bar exam during the summer of 2020, he also joined a group of students and alumni helping to create the Black Management Association. The organization brings together Black Merage School current and former students to network and support each other on their educational and professional journeys, under the guidance of Associate Professor Tonya Bradford. As an alum member, Turner plans to talk to current students, offer advice and help the next generation of Black Anteaters network.
“I think the BMA is going to be a great resource for the future students,” adds Turner. “I can’t wait to see how it blossoms.”
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