Pan Lee, BTLJ Alumni

Pan Lee (Berkeley Law ’11) is an associate at White & Case practicing patent litigation. Before law school, Pan had a career in engineering. At Berkeley Law, he was a member of BTLJ, and was co-editor of the Annual Review in 2010. As Pan states, “BTLJ was invaluable in [his] development as an attorney.” Read on to learn more about Pan, including what lessons he learned from participating in BTLJ that are relevant to his professional life, what advice he has for current law students, and why he decided to leave behind a career in engineering to pursue a career in law.

1) What brought you to law school?

It depends on who’s asking (and I’m only half-joking) because it required a critical mass of multiple factors to convince myself to leave behind a career in engineering. One major factor was the desire to expand my horizons and gain a better understanding of our world. For example: challenges of regulating technology being all over the news (e.g., cyber bullying, privacy, genetic engineering), watching friends navigate the criminal justice system, and filing my first invention disclosure made me simultaneously realize the importance, and my lack of understanding, of law and policy in our society.

Despite all of this, I admit that my decision to go to law school was also a very scary roll of the dice, but a roll I’m glad to have made.

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

I was a BTLJ member from 2008-2011. I joined the Annual Review team and was co-editor for Annual Review in 2010.

3) Please describe your most memorable law school moment.

Amjur day… but that’s classified. My second most memorable moment would have to be the night President Obama was elected. After the result was announced, people throughout Berkeley took to the streets in celebration. I remember thinking, “where’s everybody going?” and then “who cares!?” as I was swept along in a random march throughout campus.

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

I am an associate at the Palo Alto office of White & Case practicing patent litigation. While I had specifically decided to maintain an open mind regarding my career after law school (I spent my 1L summer at the San Francisco Office of the Public Defender), the abundance of resources at Boalt surrounding technology law, including the camaraderie within BTLJ, drew me into appreciating and enjoying the complexities of patent law. These same complexities become even more interesting as a patent litigator because they are accompanied by a tangible impact upon products we use in our everyday lives.

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

BTLJ was invaluable in my development as an attorney. For example, as a 1L with no humanities background, I was tremendously grateful for the guidance and feedback I received from the Annual Review editors and others on the Annual Review team regarding how to research and analyze policy issues. BTLJ strongly encouraged attending the BCLT lunch talks, which provided a broad introduction to then current developments in technology law. Also, (it’s easy to say this now that I no longer have to do them) even the BTLJ cite checking parties have benefited me in my career. Love it or hate it, there’s nothing like a four hour cite checking “party” to get you proficient with the Blue Book.

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

Take advantage of the opportunity to extern for a judge. Externships are also available during the school year. Even if you are not interested in becoming a litigator, the unique experience of seeing what goes on behind the bench would be beneficial to the practice of any aspect of law.

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

Stay involved with the Boalt community. Help maintain the uniquely collaborative culture that sets Boalt apart from the rest by paying forward the acts of kindness and mentorship we received from others.

Katie Burkhart