- On September 27, 2020
The classic path to GC is to start at an Am Law firm in corporate securities, then go in-house to a capital markets team (being sure to pick up SEC, M&A, employee benefits, IR support, and other adjacent practice groups). The person would climb the corporate ladder internally or join a smaller company as the GC.
But I do see other paths to the top. A case in point is Michelle Fang, a former litigator and current GC of Turo. She spoke about her experience recently with The Recorder. Michelle started at Quinn Emanuel, an exclusively litigation shop. After four years, she wanted to do more than litigation and to become a generalist in-house but “could only get job interviews for litigation roles.” She landed at NBC Universal in Los Angeles but relocated to the Bay Area, where her now-husband worked. She again found she “couldn’t get interviews for anything other than litigation jobs” so she went to eBay as an IP litigator. She then led the IP team before going to the PayPal/eBay sub Stubhub as General Counsel.
Joining Stubhub was interesting timing: “My first day at Stubhub they announced the PayPal/eBay split, which meant that all the executives and all my mentors and sponsors were going to be leaving the company in pretty short order.” A friend and former eBay colleague told Michelle about the GC opportunity at Turo (then called Relay Rides). She met the CEO, and the rest is history. She decided “to take a pretty big risk and leave the comfort of [her] nine years at eBay in various roles.”
Michelle has been at Turo for five years now “so it obviously was the right decision.” She notes that it was a “big gamble” leaving a well-known company like eBay to join a startup, but that’s a great path to GC. She now leads a team of 15 and is well-known for championing diversity.
- Sometimes you need to take jobs in between to get to the job you want.
- Luck and timing can play a big role in your career.
- Do good with what you’ve been given!