A “toy story” for MLS student Chad Nelson

Feb 29, 2024 | MLS Stories

by Angela Turnbow

Chad Nelson, a middle-aged white man with dark brown hair wearing a grey blazerMLS student Chad Nelson’s career began in the cycling industry, working with sponsored athletes and teams in events such as the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia. He then switched over to the children’s toy industry, where he could “work in a new market with a broader assortment of materials. Plus, it was toys,” he says.

Soon after he took up his new position at Toys ‘R’ Us, companies such as Brio, Hasbro, and Mattel were exposed for having high levels of lead and heavy metals in the toys they manufactured. Nelson found himself delving deep into compliance and regulatory law as the Consumer Product and Safety Commission (CPSC) and state legislatures tightened up on regulations.

“I worked closely with our VP of compliance (who was a former Disney compliance officer) because my categories were the highest risk, both with chemicals as well as mechanicals. I learned so much from him and loved the challenge of reading the rules, interpreting them and then working with our suppliers,” Nelson recalls. “I was fortunate to work for many good suppliers as well—some who needed to raise their standards. I enjoy product, but I enjoy safe product more.”

The Master of Legal Studies program provides him an opportunity to further sharpen his skills and to expand his knowledge of how the law applies in his industry.

“The MLS program appealed to me because it allows me to broaden my knowledge of compliance and regulatory law, including international law, as I have launched brands into international markets under EN (European) standards. The program also has elements I can apply immediately into my work, such as mediation and conflict resolution. In summary, the program is a catalyst to hone my career into the next chapter and maintain marketable and relevant skills,” Nelson says.

Nelson enjoys the MLS program for its immediate return on investment, such as acquiring conflict resolution skills, but the duration of the program has its perks as well.

“I enjoy the pace and flexibility of the program. Other programs, being 18 months, are a significant commitment, whereas one year provides for flexibility to either step away in job transition or implement it into one’s current schedule for a reasonable amount of time,” Nelson says.

Overall, Nelson’s favorite aspect from his law school experience is the sense of community he feels here at Utah Law.

“What I like about the school is that it is a community. As an MLS student, I feel I’m part of the school, considered and supported, rather than the program being an augment to the JD program,” he says. “The faculty and staff are accessible and genuinely ask what we need and how the school can enhance its programs.”

Nelson will continue to work in his current industry, with new goals in sight upon graduation from the MLS program.

“My objective is to continue my career in the consumer goods industry with a shift into safety and compliance. I have spent 15+ years developing the product. I want to now facilitate processes to improve global sourcing across all regions,” he explains. “Oftentimes the process is a big puzzle that, once put together, is extremely efficient and beneficial.”