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Restaurateur Considers Law School Key to Her Success

06/12/2013

While many who enter law school do so with the express goal of practicing law in a traditional manner, others do not. Whether individuals start law school fully intending to use their legal expertise in an entirely different way, or whether they find non-traditional careers after years of law practice, they can become successful entrepreneurs through using the problem-solving and analytical skills learned in law school.

Many alumni of the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law have chosen non-traditional legal career paths. Martha Hoover, ’80, owner of Café Patachou, Petite Chou, and Napolese with multiple locations in the Indianapolis metropolitan area, is just one of those alumnae.

Hoover had never worked in a restaurant when she decided to open Café Patachou in Indianapolis in 1989.

“Now I realize what a bold thing to do that was,” she says. Hoover attributes her restaurant success to the skills she learned in law school – how to think about problems and solutions.

Hoover was a semifinalist for the 2013 James Beard Best Restaurateur Award. In addition to four locations of Café Patachou, Hoover also has two Petite Chou locations, and two artisanal pizzerias called Napolese.

She didn’t begin her academic career with her sights on law school. Hoover says she was a good student and "I'm one of those people who loved law school, but I considered it a default education," meaning while she wasn't sure she wanted to practice law, she knew that earning a law degree would help her in whatever career she subsequently decided to pursue.

After graduation, Hoover practiced in the public sector with the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission, and then worked as a deputy prosecutor for Stephen Goldsmith during his time as Marion County prosecutor.

"I have a tremendous respect for people who practice law," she said. "They create value for people every day."

Hoover counts the credibility that a law degree carries with it as among the things that have made her restaurant success possible.

"That's one of the most interesting side effects of having a legal degree, she said. "It gives you a remarkable amount of credibility out of the gate."


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