Michelle Ma (Berkeley Law ’12) is Corporate Counsel, Litigation at Salesforce in San Francisco. Before law school, she worked in management consulting. At Berkeley Law, her involvement in BTLJ led to her decision to pursue a career in technology law. Michelle was Managing Editor from 2011-2012, Notes & Comments Editor from 2010-2011, and on the Notes & Comments team from 2009-2010. As Michelle states, “BTLJ taught me how to be a member of a team within a very large organization, and how to communicate effectively with a lot of different people.” Read on to learn more about Michelle, including what led to her path in law, her most memorable law school moment (it involved BTLJ!), her advice for current law students, and more!
1) What brought you to law school?
A series of fortunate events! I majored in biology and originally thought about going to medical school, but ultimately decided that it wouldn’t be a good fit. After college, while I was working in management consulting, I learned more about the legal and business aspects of the healthcare/pharmaceutical industry. I applied to law school with the intent of going into healthcare law, but once I started at Boalt and got involved in BTLJ, I decided to pursue a career in technology law.
2) Please describe the position(s) you held on BTLJ and when
I was Managing Editor from 2011-2012, Notes & Comments Editor from 2010-2011, and on the Notes & Comments team from 2009-2010.
3) Please describe your most memorable law school moment
There are so many – I really loved my time at Boalt! One of my favorite memories is sliding down the giant snow slide that some amazing (and hardworking) BTLJ members built in Tahoe during the Ed Board retreat in 2010/11.
4) Please describe your current professional position and your journey there
I am Corporate Counsel, Litigation at Salesforce in San Francisco. I started my career at Latham & Watkins in Menlo Park, where I practiced patent litigation. I primarily represented generic drug manufacturers in litigations arising under the Hatch-Waxman Act. I was at Latham for 3 years before I left to clerk at the Federal Circuit for Judge Hughes for 13 months. After clerking, I went back to Latham for almost a year, and recently started at Salesforce. In my current role, I help manage all types of litigation globally.
5) What are some lessons you learned from participating in BTLJ that are relevant to your professional life?
BTLJ taught me how to be a member of a team within a very large organization, and how to communicate effectively with a lot of different people.
6) What advice do you have for current law students?
Enjoy life as a law student! I had so much fun in law school, and still miss going to classes and hanging out at the student center with my friends.
7) What is one piece of advice you would give to new lawyers?
Even though it can seem tempting for a variety of reasons, try not to narrow your practice area too early on. Keep an open mind and take your time to explore and decide.