For a man who wasn’t sure what he wanted to do when he grew up, Jordan Cheng ('00) loves where he has ended up. As Director of the Legal Compliance Department for Franklin Capital Corporation in Salt Lake City, Utah, Cheng’s daily tasks include managing the firm’s litigation and executive complaints program along with the federal and state law compliance program. He also serves as the firm’s corporate secretary and is responsible for overseeing vendor/partner contract negotiations, as well as acting as the firm’s liaison with internal auditors and external government regulators.
After moving to the United States at the age of five from Beijing, China, Cheng spent his childhood in New York City, Indianapolis and Salt Lake City before ending up at UC Law in 1997. “I was going to go to law school in California,” Cheng admitted. “But then my mom got a position at the College Conservatory of Music at UC. So we made the move together” he explained. Cheng’s accounting degree from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City had initially tempted him to shoot for a job in a large accounting firm. “Ultimately, I just didn’t see myself doing auditing,” he said. “It didn’t hold a lot of incentive.” What did, though, was the law. Following a business law class Cheng took as a requirement for his accounting degree, the legal profession seemed like a good fit.
Law School Is an Eye-Opening Experience
Admittedly, Cheng’s interest in the law was met with indecision as to his specialization. “I had no idea what to specialize in,” he admitted. “My only exposure to lawyers prior to this was during my parents’ divorce.” Cheng made the most of his law school experience, however, by getting involved in Student Court, Moot Court, Student Legal Education Committee, and the Black Law Students Association. He served as the director of what is now called the Lexis-Nexis Moot Court competition during his tenure.
So why not litigation? Cheng knew he didn’t want to litigate a few months into his second summer experience working at a large firm in Kansas City, Missouri. Having worked in transactional law during his first summer, Cheng quickly realized—as he dabbled in litigation—that he was more comfortable in the transactional law environment. Today, Cheng’s position with Franklin Capital Corporation fits directly with his interest in transactional work and his accounting background.
Following a Circuitous Career Path
In the years following graduation, he spent time working for Frost Jacobs (now Frost Brown Todd) before moving to US Bank where he worked in-house. It was here that he was introduced to the consumer finance niche. His business expertise came in handy as he served as primary legal support for the Consumer Lending, NASD Broker/Dealer, Insurance Agency and Corporate Marketing & Sponsorship divisions for US Bank. In 2005, Cheng was recruited to work for JP Morgan Chase in Phoenix before he moved on to his current position in June 2007.
Cheng enjoys being back in the town where he spent so much time durng his formative years and spends his downtime with his wife and three boys, ages five, three, and five months. Additionally, he enjoys golfing and bicycling. He remembers his days spent at the law school fondly. “I was able to meet so many neat people and get to know them,” he explained. Additionally Cheng credits the law school with being an atmosphere conducive to learning. “I don’t ever recall feeling that UC every exhibited any of the elements that you hear about other schools, like being cut-throat,” he added.
Although his advising specialty is legal compliance, Cheng did offer a few words of advice for current law students post-graduation. “Keep your options open and get as much diverse experience as possible,” he said. “You just never know where your law practice will end up.”
Story by Amanda Shoemaker, Class of 2009