Why should lawyers consider joining startups? “Because it’s hair-raising fun! You feel like you’re on the precipice of a cliff and guzzling from the fire hose most of the time,” Suzy Fulton, vice president of operations and general counsel at Appspace, colorfully answers.
The most memorable compliment Mariah Panza Garcia, general counsel of the Conco Companies, has received from her teenage daughter, then elementary school-aged: “You are always the best dressed mom when you drop me off at school and when I grow up I want to wear clothes like you.”
“I know exactly which three dishes I want to try," says Alexa King with a smile after we greet and exchange niceties at a trendy Vietnamese restaurant in Mountain View, California. King is the EVP, general counsel and corporate secretary of FireEye, a leading network security company.
“Don't aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally," poet David Frost once famously said. Catherine Lacavera, Director of IP and Litigation at Google, embodies Frost's mantra as she explores the intersection between law and technology.
In 2015, Emily Ward, vice president and deputy general counsel at PayPal, was busy. Her itinerary included helping lead aspects of PayPal's separation from eBay, aiding PayPal's transition as its own company, organizing ChIPs' global event in Washington DC, remaining active in her professional and personal communities, and even adopting a child.
A few years back, when I was a very pregnant junior attorney, a male judge asked me during my trial, "Ms. Mack, how does being pregnant affect your ability to try this case?" Without missing a beat I told him, "Your Honor, as my stomach grows, my brain stays the same."
Lauri Shanahan, who went from being the chief legal and administrative officer of a multinational corporation (Gap Inc.), to sitting on the board of directors of three companies, insists that a key to her success has been to step back and reflect more often.
Sometime between entering law school and taking the bar exam, many attorneys decide that to affect change and help serve the interests of justice they must join a non-profit organization or provide pro bono services.
While many lawyers may be interested in joining a board of directors of a for-profit public or private company, reaching this goal can entail a degree of complexity that even the Byzantine Emperors would have envied. Consequently many lawyers are puzzled by the process and give up well before they even begin. Likewise, companies and many current board members do not often project a lot of enthusiasm when it comes to adding lawyers to the board.
Jan Kang, vice president and general counsel for AOptix Technologies, knows a thing or two about Moore's Law. While Moore's law remains a standby in computing, when it comes to social networking, Kang has blown the traditional growth prediction out of the water.
Michelle Banks of Gap Inc. — the American multinational clothing and accessories retailer behind brand names Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Athleta and Intermix, with more than 140,000 employees and over 3,700 company-operated and franchise stores worldwide — cares about women.
“The risk of trying new technology tools available to in-house lawyers is not as high as the risk of being left behind,” says Mike Haven, senior operations and litigation counsel at NetApp, a Fortune 500 data management and storage company headquartered in Sunnyvale, California.
Someone once described a traditional legal career as a predictable, well-known path that generations of lawyers take. A deviation from it is frowned upon and can be legal career suicide. Thus, many lawyers miss all the scenic routes!