Update: Since this article was posted Linda has been promoted and is now 50onRed’s General Counsel!
Welcome to our Meet the 50 Team series, where we give you the lowdown on how the people at 50onRed get stuff done. This time we’re sitting down with our Associate General Counsel, Linda Shi!
Can you tell us a little about your role at 50onRed?
As the Associate General Counsel of 50onRed, I’m responsible for handling the company’s various legal needs, ranging from commercial contracts to intellectual property issues to potential disputes. On a broad scale, I’d describe the main aspects of my role as being a problem solver and an adviser to the company.
Although attorneys tend to get a bad rep for being the party poopers, that doesn’t apply to my role. My primary goal is to help the business grow while managing risk.
What attracted you to 50onRed’s legal team?
Before joining 50onRed, I specialized in intellectual property (specifically, patent law), but I was looking for an opportunity to expand my legal skillset while still working in the tech industry.
It sounds cliché, but my main consideration was making sure the company and team would be a good fit for me. Since we spend a significant portion of our days at the office, it’s important to make sure you’re spending that time with people you like and enjoy working with. Also, the swanky office space and well-stocked kitchen didn’t hurt.
Your educational background was in Mechanical Engineering and English. How did you find your way to intellectual property law and the tech industry?
I actually never considered a legal career when I first picked my totally unrelated majors. That particular combination was a result of me not being able to decide which side of my brain I liked better and harboring secret ambitions of being a fiction writer, even though engineering really appealed to the logical side of me.
A professor suggested I look into patent law as a way to utilize both of my degrees, which happened to be a great match for my skills and personality. As it turns out, there aren’t that many engineers who are also grammar nerds who enjoy writing technical documents.
We’re constantly amazed by how much our legal team gets done, without breaking a sweat! How do you keep so cool?
Well, here’s the secret: I actually sweat profusely. All. The. Time. I just use really strong antiperspirant.
Seriously though, so much of our success is due to my amazing colleagues in the legal department, especially Marybeth who’s perhaps the best multi-tasker I’ve ever met and has a wealth of institutional knowledge at her fingertips.
In fact, the entire company is filled with extraordinarily talented people, who are also friendly and approachable. The legal department doesn’t operate in a vacuum, so being able to draw upon the expertise of others on the 50onRed team is invaluable to us.
What are the perks of being a lawyer in a start-up tech company?
One big advantage of working in the legal department of an internet technology company like 50onRed is the wide range of legal issues we face everyday. Not only am I never bored, I’m presented with a lot of learning experiences that I don’t think would be available in a more established company outside the tech industry.
Another perk I personally love is having great hardware to work on, as I’ve had some truly awful work computers in the past with the tendency to freeze up and crash at the worst of times.
Any advice for people seeking legal positions in the tech industry?
Don’t be afraid to try new things or seek out opportunities that are outside your comfort zone. Having a technical educational background isn’t always a prerequisite to working in the legal department of a tech company, as long as you’re passionate about technology and have a deep understanding of the company’s services, products, and legal needs. I think a key to success in this industry is the willingness to constantly learn and adapt, which is especially true when you’re dealing with leading-edge legal issues.