SAN FRANCISCO — A trademark and copyright attorney with a law degree from the University of Virginia. An ERISA specialist who spent seven years working at Electronic Arts Inc.
A Stanford Law School grad and former Cooley associate with a background in patents.
They’re among the three dozen or so lawyers Apple Inc. has hired since January 2014 to join its roughly 200-attorney legal department at Cupertino headquarters.
Apple has cachet as a legal employer. Its devices have a place in about a third of Americans’ homes or pockets. It offers Valley allure with more stability than a startup. And the company’s legal needs are immense and varied.
It turns out the paths lawyers take to land jobs at Apple are just as varied, passing through dozens of different law firms and companies, among them Oracle Corp., Intel Corp. and Rambus. Some alumni networks are stronger than others. For instance, Morrison & Foerster, one of the company’s lead counsel in high-stakes patent litigation, has nine alums at Apple, more than any other firm.
The Recorder conducted an analysis of the lawyers working for Apple in California using data from LinkedIn and the California State Bar to compile snapshots of 191 in-house attorneys. Though not a complete representation of the department, it provides a working picture of who Apple hires and what they do for the company. They are about 60 percent male/40 percent female, with degrees from more than 60 separate law schools, located in the Bay Area as well as Hawaii, Sweden, Ottawa and Australia.
The review identified five lawyers who joined Apple in the 1990s, while the average tenure for an in-house attorney, based on the data set, is 4.3 years.
Mlegal recruiter Brad Bruner said that’s within the normal range for most Silicon Valley tech companies. The time employees remain at a tech company is very closely related to the amount of time it takes for equity to vest, he said.
“The typical vesting period for equity is three to four years, four years is common to be fully vested. After that, the question comes up about whether or not the company’s stock is still making money, and if they have an incentive to stay,” Bruner said. “People are always following the money.”
The hiring data also points to some of Apple’s recent legal concerns. In the past few years, Apple has built a five-lawyer privacy team led by Jane Horvath, a former Googler who started her legal career at Hogan & Hartson. The company has also added two former federal prosecutors to focus on in-house security. So far in 2015, Apple has hired five intellectual property and patent lawyers to join what has become its largest legal division.
Apple, which is known for keeping outside lawyers on a tight rein, declined to comment on the size or make-up of its legal department.
Santa Clara University School of Law has 26 alumni working for Apple, more than any other law school. It’s followed by UC-Berkeley, Harvard Law School and UC-Hastings College of the Law.
Legal recruiter Carl Baier said proximity is a large factor. Santa Clara also offers an evening study program that appeals to people already working in the tech industry, he said.
“You see a lot of people who are Silicon Valley types, engineers, getting their degree from those part-time programs,” Baier said.
Apple senior vice president and general counsel D. Bruce Sewell attended George Washington University Law School. The company’s six associate general counsel each claim a different alma mater: UC-Berkeley, Stanford Law School, UCLA, Loyola Law School, Pepperdine University School of Law and New York-based St. John’s University.
Those supervisory lawyers are half men and half women. Of the 16 attorneys with director titles identified by The Recorder, nine are men.
The bulk of Apple’s lawyers come directly from a law firm or an in-house position at a different company. But some take a less conventional path.
Genevieve Lewis Wyman, Apple’s senior counsel for political compliance, joined the company in 2006 after working with a food bank in Monterey County as an AmeriCorps volunteer. She now works on government-ethics law and compliance issues around gift-giving, lobbying and campaign finance, according to her LinkedIn profile.
Major, Lindsey & Africa recruiter Nicole Lipman said Apple has a lot of leverage in the Valley and can cherry pick from other employers.
“It’s the premier consumer products company in the world, people love the product and they do great things and continue to innovate,” Lipman said. “For any Silicon Valley tech lawyer, it’s hard to imagine a better place to work.”
According to recruiter Julie Brush, Apple handles the bulk of its hiring in-house, though it sometimes conducts niche searches using outside firms. There isn’t a certain template for what an Apple attorney looks like, she said. “There aren’t many attorneys out there thinking ‘I want to get to Apple, this is the path I have to take.’ “
But she added: “When Apple comes calling, most people pick up their phone.”
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