Monique Liburd, trademark counsel for Google Inc., helped secure a win at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirming that the Google mark is not generic simply by virtue of the fact that consumers use “Google” as a verb for web searching.
If I could change one thing about working in tech, it would be …
Having more women and people of color in positions of leadership.
After the events that have rocked Silicon Valley this year, are you more or less hopeful about the prospects for women in the tech industry?
I am more hopeful. The recent events have shed light on dark corners in a way that will force people at all levels of leadership to take a vested interest in real change as well as empower those in positions of inequity to have courage to speak up, raise support for their issues, and demand change.
Do lawyers bear any special responsibility in addressing gender stereotyping and discrimination in tech?
Lawyers are in a unique position to understand and explain the laws surrounding discrimination (both gender- and race-related) and to help employers and employees understand the ramifications of having policies that perpetuate discrimination/help them avoid creating hostile work environments and the like.
[But] because diversity in the legal profession is drastically lacking in a way that makes it one of the least diverse professions in this country, I don’t think lawyers should be looked to as examples by the tech industry on its path to improving diversity and reducing gender stereotyping and discrimination. Lawyers have a responsibility to first improve diversity in the legal profession before they will be in a position to take on any elevated responsibility diversifying particular industries (tech included). It is important for leaders in the tech and legal industries to accept that diversity is a serious undertaking that should be managed by actual diversity professionals, as opposed to volunteer efforts by those with good intentions but little expertise.
What piece of advice do you have for young lawyers in tech?
Definitely to take control of your own career. If there is experience you know they are not getting that is key to your development, you need to find ways to develop in those areas, whether by speaking up to help another team that might have that work, doing pro bono or even switching roles or employers. You are the best steward of your career.