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Alumni Spotlight

Davoli ’14 Takes Unexpected, Winding Road to Uber

Nick Davoli ’14

By Lauren Mineau

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Nick Davoli ’14 has made some major life decisions at inopportune times. When Uber contacted him—nearly a year after his first interview—to offer him a position as regulatory counsel, he and his wife, Michelle Tanney ’12, were still in the hospital with their daughter who was just a few hours old.

Though unexpected, the job has turned out to be a great mix of startup energy and advocacy.

“Mobility is such a key issue. There are areas in New York City that are drastically underserved by public transportation and they rely heavily on app-based services,” he said. “You think, OK, there’s a subway, there’s a bus, but not on the outskirts of the Bronx or Queens.”

He got a taste for the New York City transportation world in his first job out of law school with the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC). Two days after he finished the bar exam, the TLC asked him to come in for a second interview. It ended with an offer. They wanted an answer on the spot. 

“When I got the opportunity to take a job, I took it,” he said. At the time, the TLC was hiring young attorneys to attend court proceedings and write and submit appeals. After three promotions in three years, he felt he’d reached a plateau and began looking for a new opportunity. But the field itself was ever-intriguing.

“I was surprised when I kind of fell for it. It was not what I wanted to do,” he said. “But you get an insight into how New York City moves around.”

The posting for Uber seemed perfect. But after several rounds of interviews, he heard nothing. He took a job at a private firm doing litigation work and was fine with that decision—so much so that he turned down an offer to specialize in transportation at a different firm—essentially closing the door on that part of his career.

Then he was contacted by Uber’s in-house recruiting team. They opened the position back up. After eight rounds of interviews, they offered Davoli the job. The role—like many in the technology sector—is ever-changing, he said. For the most part, he conducts ongoing legal review on offerings and safety measures, as the company constantly looks to innovate. More recently he has been navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and the legal issues that surround ridesharing services. He’s found the role to be a balance of litigating and guiding the company’s ever-evolving ideas alongside the law.

“I do like it. It’s good to be mentally engaged. Sometimes with litigation, you get into a routine that is very rigid,” he said.

Like all other businesses, Uber has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking ahead, Davoli predicts a shift in the future of transportation.

“On the ride side of the business, there will potentially be a shift in how people interact with the platform and what they want to know about the vehicle,” he said. “They’ll want to know it’s clean, they’ll want to know the driver is healthy, they’re going to want those assurances. It will be interesting to see how the industry responds.”

While at Albany Law School, Davoli served as a competition chair for the Anthony V. Cardona ’70 Moot Court Program. The experience, he said, helped him find a passion for litigation.

“[The program teaches] the ability to advocate, to get up and give arguments, to write briefs, and to hone in on those practical skills. It’s something that litigators—public or private practice, it doesn’t matter—will need. If you’re going to litigate, you’re going to want to get into a moot court competition,” he said.

Above all, keeping an open mind both in law school and in navigating his career has been the key to driving his career forward.

“If you’re interested in law school and you have a passion and want to do it, go in with an open mind. I started law school thinking I wanted to be an assistant district attorney,” he said. “When I pivoted, I found my niche.”