Heather Meeker, Class of 1994
1) What brought you to law school?
I was working as a paralegal at a record label in Hollywood. Lawyers departed the company, and I inherited their work. So I decided that three years more of school was worth their salary instead of mine.
2) Please describe the position(s) you held on BTLJ and when.
I was EIC in my 3L year (1994). Technically, the EIC did not have any specific duties. But all that year, from the moment I set foot in the law school in the morning, until I left in the evening, I answered questions and made decisions. It was exhausting! But it was a great experience.
3) Please describe your most memorable law school moment.
My most memorable moment had more to do with Berkeley than the law school. I rode my bike to school most days. It was always a manic trip — dodging cars, runners, bikes and whatever else was on the bike path or the side of the road. But one day, I suddenly made a panic stop because I almost ran into something. My brain did not even register what it was at first — just that it was coming at me. It was a peacock! Big, blue, and ill-tempered. Apparently someone who lived near the bike path kept them in his backyard, and one had escaped. It’s funny now, but it left me rattled at the time.
4) Please describe your current professional position and your journey there.
I am a partner at O’Melveny & Myers, and my practice is technology transactions: IP licensing, technology deals, and counseling technology clients. I’m a well-known commentator on open source software licensing, and last year I published a book on that topic for lawyers, businesspersons, and engineers. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1511617772/flatwave-20 . It’s been a long journey, with many twists and turns. I can’t imagine a more interesting, rewarding, and intellectually challenging career.
5) What are some lessons you learned from participating in BTLJ that are relevant to your professional life?
Managing lawyers is a challenge. It’s not the same as managing non-professionals or engineers; lawyers’ motivations and needs are different. I learned not to worry about whether a period is italicized. Working on the Journal’s computers late at night, I also discovered the joys of USENET! But the experience of coordinating the work of soon-to-be lawyers served me well later, as I moved into a management role in my practice.
6) What advice do you have for current law students?
The student in the seat next to you is not a competitor — but a potential future client, employer, or colleague. Treat everyone well and start building your professional network now.
7) What is one piece of advice you would give to new lawyers?
Don’t be too quick to leave law firm practice. Although there are many paths to success in the law, and only some of them are in private practice, working in a law firm is an unparalleled opportunity to learn, and to work on legal teams with colleagues who share your interests. Lawyers who are too quick to leave often are surprised how much they miss the collegiality and challenge of private practice. Every year you stay at a law firm builds your skills and relationships. Maybe you’ll find — like me — that you actually prefer it.