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Spring 2017
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Scott Hampton '86


Lawyer Scott Hampton stays fashionable as Vice President and General Counsel for Forever 21. Take a quick look at what drew him to UCSB and what it’s like being a lawyer for a major global company

What drew you to study at UC Santa Barbara?

Like many kids, when I was in high school, I had no clear idea of what I wanted to be or what I wanted to do with my life. I just knew I needed a good education. When I was deciding on a college, I went to visit Lisa, my older sister, who was a senior at UCSB at the time.

During that trip I was able to wander around the campus, and explore Isla Vista, Goleta and downtown Santa Barbara. I fell in love with the area. My first impressions were the roar of the surf, and the bike paths connecting everything. I mean what’s not to love about a spacious, beautiful, 1,000-acre campus surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and Santa Ynez Mountains?

Describe a typical day at your job. What are challenges you face as a leader at a global company like Forever 21?

There is no such thing as a typical day at my job. Forever 21 is a very nimble, fast-paced company, and it often has me going in many different directions at the same time.

I am fortunate to oversee and manage some very talented lawyers and legal teams with specialties including intellectual property, labor and employment, product compliance, marketing and privacy, customs and international trade, etc. As a global fashion retailer, we have over 50,000 employees, and over 800 stores in over 50 countries worldwide, so legal issues can pop up anywhere.

For example, we recently had a shipment of goods detained by Customs in Belarus. After some quick research, I found exactly where Belarus was on the map, and confirmed we currently had no stores or operations there. As it turns out, we had goods traveling on a train through Belarus, destined for the Netherlands, when Customs boarded the train and decided to confiscate them with no notice. Long story short, we located and worked with qualified local counsel, developed a plan and got the goods released.

These challenges are actually what I love most about my job. No two days are exactly alike. I work with great people, and variety is the spice of life – one day it’s a copyright case, and the next day it’s a product testing issue or an international customs dispute. It keeps my work life interesting and fun.

For students hoping to follow your career path someday, what skills and personality traits do they need to develop while still at UCSB?

It is common sense, but in life you cannot expect that challenging jobs and good things will just get handed to you. You have to be determined and work hard to get them. Find your passions, have an open mind and go with the flow. I believe that you can’t just focus on your academic skills, but you need to work on your people skills too. Be social, network like crazy, collect business cards and talk to everyone. It takes work. It takes effort. But it is worth it.

For example, I found out about my initial position at Forever 21 through a lawyer friend of mine while we attended a seminar together — the job was not heavily advertised. Find mentors and watch them in action, listen to them and learn from them.

One life lesson I learned at UCSB was that I got my best grades when I was also playing sports and while I also had an active social life. I recommend trying to stay busy (within reason) and try to engage your body, mind and spirit as much as you can. Volunteer. Find what gives your life purpose. It will help to keep things in perspective and keep you balanced. It will help you to focus on the real, important things, and to not sweat the small potatoes in life.

Read about Hampton’s role in founding UCSB’s ultimate Frisbee team and how he went from TV producer to lawyer in his full length Alumni Spotlight here.

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