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Beth Oliva ’97

A photo of Beth Olivo

Partner, Fox Rothschild LLP

Education: The Johns Hopkins University, International Relations; Tulane University Law School

What I’m Doing Now: I represent clients — from small family-run businesses to multinational companies and trade associations—in the tobacco industry, primarily cigars, pipe tobacco, and novel products. As an industry expert, I get to work on all the issues unique to this space — manufacturing, distribution, FDA, state and local regulatory issues, tax laws, and First Amendment work. While most lawyers specialize in an area of law, specializing in an industry is niche work. I absolutely enjoy my work intellectually, and even if representing parts of the tobacco industry may not be what every little girl thinks of for their future career, it has been a wonderful experience for me. It’s a whole lot more interesting and intellectually rigorous to be in a position to argue an unpopular position than to parrot popular opinion. Because of the stakes of what we do—my clients are routinely on the front page of the New York Times, for example—and the responsibility surrounding the products I represent, everyone I work with is on their A game. There is no room for a B or even an A- game. It is not the easiest position to be in, and I often get judged right alongside my clients. When female associates want to join our team I tell them, “You have to be able to wear your four-inch heels, dance backward with someone screaming at you, and not fall down.” You have to be able to stand your ground in a male-dominated workplace and industry and be able to manage many big egos.

How Kent Place Influenced Me: Mrs. Jacobus, Dr. Cole, and Mrs. Clemens were some really foundational legends who I was lucky enough to learn from, who shaped how I think, how I approach research and solve problems, and ultimately who I am. Mrs. Clemens taught eighth-grade history through the class she created called Portraits of Leadership. She taught us history by introducing us to both good and bad leaders. Courses like that encouraged my inquisitiveness and taught me to always look beyond the headlines at both sides of an issue. 

My Proudest Accomplishment: Being where I am today, being comfortable in my skin, and owning that I am one of the best at what I do. It took me a long time to realize there’s no harm in admitting and being proud of that. Women are not taught to champion their accomplishments and acknowledge their success. But the bedrock education I received at KPS allowed me to get here.

Advice for My KPS Sisters: I had a summer job at a litigation firm lined up after my second year in law school. At the last minute they revoked all their offers, so I graduated without a job. But three days after finishing the Bar, I got a call informing me that New Jersey was appointing new state judges, and asking if I was interested in a clerkship. That experience taught me that you don’t always get the picture perfect job or opportunity that you have in your head. Don’t be afraid if your career takes 10 turns, and be open to opportunity. Thinking you know the exact path you want to take is not always the best way to start out.