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Alumni Focus

Dario-Olivasportrait-225x300Dario Olivas

As an entrepreneur, Dario Olivas brings diverse and unique experiences to his current role managing complex commercial negotiations for Dell Inc., in Austin, Texas. After earning his J.D. from Valparaiso Law in 2004, he was a Fulbright Scholar in Mexico and worked in the corporate and finance group of a Mexico City law firm, focusing on international business transactions, venture capital, and private equity. He then joined a start-up firm that pioneered the legal process outsourcing industry in India and later co-founded Vampire Labs, a start-up company focused on eliminating the wasted energy consumption of mobile products, also known as vampire energy loss.

Together these experiences provided Olivas a balanced perspective, combining his passion for technology with his intellectual ability to navigate and close multi-million dollar deals, and his acumen to understand, develop, and support new business models. The entrepreneur has sage advice for job hunters in today’s competitive legal market: “Don’t be confined by practicing law,” he said. “Legal issues are embedded in business and many other disciplines. Expand your opportunities and trust that the value of your skills goes beyond just the legal box.”


tolbert-portraitMichael E. Tolbert

Michael E. Tolbert (J.D. 2000) has always enjoyed solving other people’s problems. While attending Valparaiso University Law, he viewed the legal profession as a way to help others while serving a larger purpose for society. Today, he works in Merrillville, Indiana near his home town of Gary, Indiana, representing a variety of clients as a Partner with Hoeppner Wagner & Evans LLP. He specializes in litigating complex cases involving insurance companies and other businesses. For Tolbert, the same credo of hard work and commitment drove his success in law school, his ascent to Partner and his success as a litigator. “With the help of God I’ve always followed the adage, ‘Come to work early, leave late,” he said. “In law school that meant prepping well for every class and contributing to as many study groups as possible. On the partnership track, I was able to litigate a large number of cases in a short period of time—usually as First Chair. And today I still prepare for each court appearance the same exhaustive way I got ready for my law school classes.” This determination serves him well at a time when the legal profession is more competitive than ever. “Before the Internet and social media took hold, many lawyers focused on their local practice and felt a sense of entitlement in terms of work and clients,” he said. “Today everything moves much faster. The Internet has expanded business boundaries. Client expectations are also much higher, and it’s easy for them to reach out to competitors if you’re not delivering world-class service.” Tolbert expresses his commitment to service through leadership roles with professional groups—and by supporting Valparaiso Law’s Firm Giving Challenge. In 2014 he will serve as President of the Lake County Bar Association, one of the state’s most powerful local bar associations. “I want members to understand the organization’s history—the true champions we have in our midst—and to honor and highlight the contributions they’ve made to the legal profession.” he said. “It’s also important to support Valparaiso Law. We owe it to our school to make sure it keeps moving forward in its mission to shape the minds of future lawyers. The reality is, it takes money to accomplish this task, and anything I can do as an alum to make sure the school has the resources it needs is a worthy cause.”