Andrew Gass, Class of 2008
Some people go to law school with a clear vision of the career they want to have. My story was pretty much the opposite of that. I had done a bunch of different things in the three or four years that I’d been out of college, and was really just ready for a change. I was working for a non-profit advocacy organization at the time, and felt that whether I wanted to continue doing that kind of work, or something else entirely, spending a few years studying the law wouldn’t hurt, might help, and would certainly expand the array of professional choices that were realistically available to me.
2) Please describe the position(s) you held on BTLJ and when.
My contributions to BTLJ have principally been as an author. Over the years, I’ve published a couple papers with you guys, have become a serial presenter of lunchtime talks, and have tried to support the organization whenever and however I can.
3) Please describe your most memorable law school moment.
It’s hard to pick just one! I’m a huge nerd, though, so the really salient memory I have of Berkeley is that feeling of going to twice-weekly lectures with absolute giants of various fields—Judge Fletcher in Federal Courts, Professor Samuelson in Copyright . . . the list goes on and on—and just kind of marveling at the depth of their knowledge and the way they presented it to students. I’m sure other people have much more salacious/entertaining most-memorable-moments!
4) Please describe your current professional position and your journey there.
I’m a practicing litigator at Latham & Watkins in San Francisco, and have also been very fortunate to be a Lecturer back at Berkeley Law. In my day job, I mainly work on copyright and antitrust issues around various digital platforms. Here are a bunch of cases I’ve been spending my time on in the last few years. At Berkeley, I’ve had the opportunity to teach both the basic Copyright Law course and an advanced seminar I call Copyright, Competition, And Technology.
I got to where I am via a pretty circuitous route. I started out at a different firm, doing transactional work for tech companies. Then I left to do a clerkship, and ended up landing at Latham & Watkins. I’ve been really lucky there to work on super-interesting issues with people that I like a lot (which, for me, is about as good as it gets). The teaching gig started when I subbed for Professor Samuelson one semester when she was off at NYU—and I just really liked it, so I looked for ways to keep doing it.
5) What are some lessons you learned from participating in BTLJ that are relevant to your professional life?
The process of revising papers with BTLJ editors was great training for what I do professionally today. Litigation really is a team sport, and learning how to constructively work with other people to make a paper better—which I did for more-or-less the first time with BTLJ, during law school—is just about the most important skill you can develop, for what I do.
6) What advice do you have for current law students?
There’s no one right way to find a career that works for you. Some people have a really clear sense of where they want to end up and how to get there—and that’s great when it pans out, but it’s pretty unreasonable to think that you should know what, exactly, you want to do with your law degree before you’ve actually done any work as a lawyer. An alternative approach is to try to take advantage of opportunities that seem exciting when they come up, and see where that takes you.
7) What is one piece of advice you would give to new lawyers?
Work with people you like, and don’t work with people you don’t like. Being a good lawyer is hard—not just in the sense that you have to wrestle with hard problems, but also in the sense that to do the job well you have to be pretty dedicated to it. There’s no good reason to make it harder, still, by doing all that hard work with people that you find it taxing to be around. Finding a team that you actually enjoy working with can really make all the difference.