Spring/Summer 2018

David Breach, ’94: Throwing Ladders to Help Others Climb

David Breach headshot
David Breach, ’94

David Breach, ’94, joined the San Francisco office of Vista Equity Partners in 2014 and serves as its chief operating officer and chief legal officer. A principal of Vista, he also serves on its private equity funds investment committees. Breach previously was a senior corporate partner with Kirkland & Ellis, where his practice focused on the representation of private equity funds in all aspects of their business. He was a member of the firm’s global executive management committee and a founding partner of Kirkland’s San Francisco office.

Recently, Breach and his wife, Emily, established the David A. and Emily A. Breach Law School Scholarship Fund. The need-based scholarship will give preference to students who are from a socioeconomically disadvantaged background or who already have loans—criteria that resonate with Breach, who came to Michigan Law as a transfer student. He talked with the Law Quadrangle about the impact of his Michigan Law degree and the importance of giving back.

How does this gift reflect what the Law School means to you?

Michigan Law made me who I am today. I came from fairly humble beginnings financially and academically. Both of my parents grew up in a rural part of Canada and dropped out of high school to support their families. I wasn’t a great student growing up, and I started my career in food sales. Fortunately, I had people in my life when I was young who saw potential in me and believed I could aspire to more. Getting admitted to Michigan Law changed my life’s trajectory in a profound way. It opened doors I didn’t even know existed and set me on a course for professional success.

My parents liked to say that those who have succeeded have an obligation to throw down ladders, so others can climb up. That’s how I see this gift. I want to do my part to help young people who have the intellect, aptitude, and desire, but not the means. I want to give them a chance to be their best selves.

How has your Michigan Law education shaped your career?

Michigan Law taught me how to be analytical. It was a legal education, but more than that, it taught me how to understand context and see the big picture. When I started my career in corporate law, I understood the need to align legal and business principles and goals. Lawyers can’t stay in one lane; they need to know how their counsel impacts all aspects of a client’s business.

I also found early in my career that a degree from Michigan Law is a master key that opens nearly any door. You’ll start out with the benefit of the doubt that you have a tremendous skill set, which you’ll have to prove, but it’s instant credibility.

How do you see your gift affecting the future of the Law School and the legal profession?

I am filled with gratitude for the life that Michigan Law has helped me lead. I’d like to see all alumni who go on to achieve success to realize that their success is shared. No one achieves it on their own. In some ways, as I reached a point where I could focus on giving back, I didn’t even see this gift as optional. I feel a sense of obligation to pay back the extraordinary gifts I received.

Why now?

I spent the first 25 years of my career focused on how I could achieve a level of success. While I still work just as hard, I’ve reached a point where it’s time to shift my focus to giving and to helping others achieve success. As I began to consciously make that shift, I thought hard about how to invest my philanthropic resources. This scholarship for Michigan Law is my first major gift, and I could not think of a more rewarding or deserving place to start.