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Business grad’s path to SEC started at York College

Leah Barteld Clague stands with her dad, mom and husband in front of staircase.

Leah Barteld Clague always had an interest in tackling legal problems based on their impact on businesses and communities. After graduating as a Business Administration major from York College of Pennsylvania in 2007, Leah went on to get an MBA and later a law degree before landing a job at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Today, she drafts internal policy for the Office of Credit Rating Business Management. Her office makes sure the big rating agencies, which determine the creditworthiness of companies and governments, are doing so fairly. “We can’t tell these agencies how to issue their ratings, but we make sure they comply with their policies and procedures,” she says.

Solving real-world problems

Leah credits her undergrad studies at York College for showing her how to carve her own path and use her degree in creative ways. “The quantitative courses added to my toolbox. They gave me the ability to understand products the rating agencies look at and also understand how the financial markets work,” she says. “Many lawyers don’t have these skills.”

She also says the College’s required capstone project showed her how to solve real-world problems. She walked away from the experience feeling she learned a lot, she says. “Professor Chris Meisenhelter taught this course,” she recalls. “We were paired with a company in York-WellSpan Health and went through all the textbook principles, applying them to an actual company.”

Something else she feels is unique about York College is the bonds she formed with professors. “The Meisenhelters were at my wedding,” Leah says. “I still keep in touch with many professors on LinkedIn and Facebook and used my York College network by reaching out to a professor when I was looking to change jobs.” These relationships, she believes, are possible because the smaller school size encourages professors to get to know their students well.

Supreme Court Bar admission

Continuing to tap the energy York College gave her to look for creative rather than just traditional ways to use her degrees and skills, Leah recently was admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court Bar. “I pursued this to continue to diversify my experience,” she says. “As a member of the U.S. Supreme Court Bar, I have access to the Supreme Court Law Library and to arguments before the Court. Cases relevant to the SEC could come before the Supreme Court.”

The admission ceremony itself was exciting, with her husband and parents attending, along with eight of the nine justices. “I co-chair the women’s committee at the SEC,” she says, “and Chief Justice John Roberts met our group after the admission ceremony.”