Alecia Chen – Climb Credit

Improving access to career-advancing education

With nationwide unemployment still high due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are looking to further their education. But as the economy continues to sputter, the cost of higher education remains high, and potential learners struggle to identify which programs will help them improve their skills and career prospects.

Alecia Chen - Climb Credit

That’s where Climb Credit hopes to assist. The New York City-based company provides student financing at affordable rates, with the aim of giving more access to education. Loans are only provided for programs Climb Credit has vetted for educational value, and the process has aided over 25,000 students. In fact, many of the schools the company works with don’t provide financing at all.

“Our mission is to expand access to career-advancing education, and my role is to make sure we’re doing it legally,” says Alecia Chen, the company’s general counsel and interim head of People Operations.

Since joining the company in February 2020, Chen’s developed its legal and external affairs and developed a more robust human resources infrastructure.

Building a framework

Chen says she’s been good at juggling the urgent needs of Climb Credit, like closing transactions and reviewing new products, with further developing the company’s legal department. She’s creating department metrics to measure success, considering what legal technology to implement, and which matters to handle internally or with outside counsel.

In the past year, she developed a process for managing new vendor and school contracts as well as marketing materials, which she says has both improved efficiency and led to better record-keeping.

Additionally, Chen has worked to develop the company’s external affairs strategy. She’s most excited about work Climb Credit is planning in 2021 to further enhance its measurement of student outcomes. This includes partnering with others who share these goals to develop benchmarks for return on investment for students and professional vocational schools.

Compliance is also a big part of the overall legal strategy.

“Our primary focus for the rest of 2021 and beyond will be around regulatory compliance, including our policies and procedures, monitoring and testing, and employee training,” Chen adds.

Providing more opportunities

In addition to her legal role, she leads the Climb Credit human resources department. It’s been a new experience and challenge, she notes, and so far, she’s learned how the “people” function needs to be involved in all major business decisions.

“I definitely have a lot of respect for the difficulty of this role,” Chen says.

One of the biggest challenges is establishing and embracing an open feedback culture at Climb Credit, she explains. The company has provided guidance for managers about how to have better one-on-one relationships with their direct reports, and Chen and her team continue to urge employees to give each other feedback.

Right now, she is busy planning on the company’s eventual return to the office and how employee interactions will look after COVID-19.

“We’ve been operating successfully as a remote business for a year now, and we plan to incorporate this type of work environment into our future operation,” she says.

Getting the credit

Chen graduated with a degree in international relations from the University of Western Ontario and got her law degree from the University of Toronto. Her legal career began at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCloy in New York City, where she was an associate in the firm’s finance practice.

Alecia Chen | Climb Credit

After nearly four years, she moved to Dechert LLP as a corporate and securities associate, before moving in-house for OnDeck as a senior associate general counsel and head of operations strategy and solutions. Chen stayed at OnDeck for more than five years before taking a five-month sabbatical to travel the world. She joined Climb Credit in February 2020.

Her sabbatical took her to various places in Asia and Europe, and included trekking in Nepal, attending a Muay Thai camp in Thailand, touring northern Vietnam by scooter, and visiting Greek and Roman ruins in Sicily.

She feels very fortunate to have had the chance to travel pre-COVID. Chen’s time abroad allowed her to reassess her career and personal goals. She is a big advocate for using less traditional methods to achieve career objectives, and is excited to work for an organization that enables others in this regard.

Right now, with the pandemic still raging and unemployment at higher-than-normal levels, students are looking for any possible edge to advance their careers, she says. And it’s her job to ensure the legal framework is in place.

“Far too often, students incur debt without access to better outcomes,” Chen adds. “I’m excited about the work Climb Credit is doing to vet schools and programs and to drive toward systemic transparency in the educational space.”

Published on: April 14, 2021



Showcase your feature on your website with a custom “As Featured in Vanguard” badge that links directly to your article!

Copy and paste this script into your page coding (ideally right before the closing tag) where you want to display our review banner.


The piece highlighting my company, Bob Baker Enterprises, Inc., came out fabulous. Our company is in the new and used car sales and service industry. Everyone was great to work with and extremely professional. They produced a high-quality product and have provided expert assistance and guidance post-production of the article.
– Wade Poulson, General Counsel, Bob Baker Enterprises Inc.
It was a great honor to be featured in Vanguard Law. Working with every member of the team, from the initial interview with Erin Clark, through production with Victor Martins, writing the article with Taryn Plumb and creating the final content with Dave Gushee, was a true pleasure. Everyone was very professional, enthusiastic and supportive, and their creative approach and positive attitude clearly came through in the final product.
– Kevin C. Rakowski, Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, Compliance with Radian Group Inc.
I was honored to be the subject of an article. I enjoy reading Vanguard articles and seeing how other attorneys got to their positions and see their jobs. It's also interesting to see how different law firms partner with the subjects of the articles.
– Henry Marquard, in-house counsel, Stanley Consultants Inc.
As promised in advance, my feature in Vanguard has increased my visibility within the profession and prompted more than a few people I have not communicated with recently to reconnect. One of the Italian law firms I have used in the past is now in the process of interviewing me for an article on their website and tweeting out the feature story. Activity and the number of people connecting with me on LinkedIn has soared, which is great. The Vanguard writers and editorial staff were great to work with—highly professional and made the effort to make the experience both fun and rewarding (they were also respectful of the time pressures and demands all lawyers face). I was very pleased with the experience and the final outcome. Needless to say, I have been very pleased. All in all working with Vanguard has been a very positive experience which generated good publicity for both Shawcor and myself. My sincere thanks.
– Tim Hutzul, General Counsel, ShawCor Ltd.


Winter II 2024



  • * We’ll never share your email or info with anyone.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.