Alex Li, Class of 2014

Alex LiWhat brought you to law school?

I didn’t really entertain the notion of law school until senior year of college. In undergrad, for my capstone design project in engineering, my team and I created a device that enabled a 10-year old boy with TAR syndrome to take camera pictures for the first time in his life. By doing a bit of digging on existing designs and technology for the project, I realized that technology law represented an exciting opportunity to work at the intersection of science, business, and public policy. After that, I knew that I wanted to attend law school and give myself the training needed to potentially pursue this career path.

2) Please describe the position(s) you held on BTLJ. 

I was involved, off and on, with BTLJ all three years of law school. I think my proudest accomplishment on the journal was being a co-symposium editor alongside Christina Farmer. Together, we helped BCLT organize The Next Great Copyright Act symposium.

3) Please describe your most memorable law school moment.

I am going to turn this question on its head a little bit. My most memorable moment in law school was not as much of an accomplishment as more of a moment of disappointment. It was my 1L fall semester, and I just received my grade on the CivPro midterm. I remember realizing that I absolutely tanked the mid-term (like I got a score that was one or two points away from the bottom end of the range of scores on that exam). I remember feeling quite dejected because, well, I really tried hard to do well on that exam and studied my butt off for it. Looking back now, that moment turned out to be my “law school watershed moment”: it gave me the momentum to let go and stop worrying about failing in law school (because the grade potentially indicated that I might already be there, so why bother worrying). After that, not worrying about grades or the eventual outcome enabled me to have fun learning the law and, with it, to do well in law school. So to all the law students out there who might not have done well on a subject area in their first semester, take it personally from me, you got what it takes; one bad result does not a failure make, it’s how you bounce back that makes all of the difference. Oh and p.s., CivPro ended up being one of my favorite subjects in law school.

4) Please describe your current professional position and your journey there. 

I am still a baby lawyer. I did two years of tech consulting with PricewaterhouseCoopers between undergrad and law school. After law school, I clerked for Judge Robert E. Bacharach on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Oklahoma City (a city I like to call #greatplainsparadise) for a year. I am now working as a corporate associate in Latham & Watkins’ Silicon Valley office. As a side note, I absolutely recommend everyone to do a clerkship-whether you are interested in litigation or not; it was definitely one of the best years of my life!

5) What are some lessons you learned from participating in BTLJ that are relevant to your professional life?

The little details matter! Cite checking parties aren’t as fun as your pizza parties but they are important and taught me an important skill: to really hone in and focus on the minor details. In the legal world, you need to ensure that you are clear (in a concise and precise manner) about what you are writing; During my clerkship, I can’t tell you how many cases we resolved based on the fact that a seemingly trivial procedural deadline had been missed or there had been a misplaced word or syntax in the contractual language.

6) What advice do you have for current law students?

Be true to yourself! In law school, it’s easy to get caught up in the mentality of doing whatever everyone else is doing. But, what works for someone else might not necessarily work for you, and you should always focus on what’s right for you: you are a boaltie because you are bright, never for a second doubt that fact. Also, get to know your classmates, you are going to make some lifelong friends in law school, so cherish your three years together with them: go on trips and hang out at events. Lastly, take advantage of Berkeley, I signed up for an Adventureship Pass with the Berkeley RSF my 3L year: best decision I ever made. Nothing like sailing a Coronado-15 in the Berkeley Marina (with wind in your hair and the Golden Gate Bridge as the backdrop) every Friday afternoon to get your mind off of things!

7) What is one piece of advice you would give to new lawyers?

Stay hungry, stay foolish, and you will never stop learning.

***Edited for length and/or clarity.***