Alumni Spotlight: Will Norton, Cohort 2001
1. Tell us about yourself and your background.
I grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, and attended Lincoln Southeast High School. I majored in Mathematics and Computer Science in undergrad and then attended the University of Nebraska College of Law, concentrating on intellectual property and telecommunications law.
2. What are some highlights or key take-aways from your experience as a student in the Raikes School/JDE?
I remember many of the (then JD Edwards) classes being engaging, but most of my favorites memories are of spending time with classmates in Kauffman. Since college, I’ve realized that my classmates made me more intellectually curious and also shaped my taste from software design to music. I loved being around such smart, interesting and thoughtful people.
3. What have you been up to since graduating from Nebraska and the Raikes School?
After law school I worked in the Nashville office of Baker Donelson, one of the 100 largest law firms in the country. I helped large corporations license and commercialize their intellectual property and helped startup companies form, grow and sell their businesses.
Following five years at the firm I saw opportunities to streamline the processes surrounding these corporate transactions. I hadn’t done any real programming since law school, and this gave me a great excuse to get back into that world. That project later became a startup called SimplyAgree. I left the firm in 2016 to work on SimplyAgree full time.
Around the time I quit my job to create a software company, my wife also decided to quit her job to go to medical school. We moved from Nashville to Baltimore in 2017 for her to start school.
4. You are currently working to build your own company, tell us about it.
SimplyAgree is an electronic signature and closing management tool for transactional attorneys. We automate the most tedious parts of closing complex transactions. "Complex transactions" are any deals where there are a lot of documents that need to be signed and a lot of signatories who need to sign those documents. The most common examples are in the areas of mergers & acquisitions, private equity, venture capital, commercial finance and commercial real estate.
Because these transactions are so valuable, attorneys are responsible for facilitating the deals to ensure that negotiations are properly documented and all necessary parties have agreed to the terms. So we've focused on selling our product to law firms who manage these transactions. We are now working with some of the largest law firms in the world and close hundreds of complex transactions per month (worth billions of dollars in value).
5. Have you had experiences with Raikes School alumni or current students since graduation? If so, tell us about those experiences.
I was roommates with some of the Hudl founders when they started Agile Sports. Seeing their success was an inspiration for me starting SimplyAgree, and I've leaned on many Raikes School alums as we started our business. But more generally I've got great memories spending time with Raikes School friends all over the country, in places like Nashville, Lincoln, Austin, Kansas City, the Bay Area, Seattle and New York.
I hope our company will be in a position soon to hire Raikes School alums and interns.
6. If you could give one piece of advice to current Raikes School students, what would you say?
Look for opportunities where you are. Embrace constraints. Limiting your options can encourage you to find creative solutions.
7. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I’m grateful to have been a part of the Raikes School.