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Heels of Justice

Mar 18, 2019

Welcome to Heels of Justice; these are the stories of women lawyers who are trailblazers in their field and paved the way for the rest of us.

In this episode, Sarita talks to Kathi Vidal from Winston and Strawn; as Managing Partner of the firm’s Silicon Valley office, she is one of the leading patent litigators in the country. Nationally recognized for trying high-profile, high-stakes, and high-tech patent disputes for the region’s leading companies, her experience covers a myriad of technologies, including semiconductors, telecommunications, circuits and systems, computers, software, Internet applications, and consumer products.


Key Takeaways

[:20] Sarita introduces Kathi Vidal, Managing Partner of Winston and Strawn’s Silicon Valley office — a woman whose name and achievements are well known, especially in the field of technology law — and asks her to break down what she does at her firm.

[1:38] Sarita asks Kathi to break down what diversity and inclusion, as well as disruptive technology, entail in her job description.

[3:40] Kathi talks a bit about where she grew up, and her “around the world” youth, which includes two important skills she learned: how to make friends and how to reset your focus, that still help her now.

[5:14] Sarita asks what High School was like; listen to Kathi’s amazing story of studying abroad with no set curriculum, which finally led to her entering college at 16!

[6:20] Kathi recounts part of her undergraduate journey from Physics and Mathematics to Electrical Engineering through the Edison Program — designing aircraft and rockets at GE aerospace!

[8:22] What is a nonlinear system?

[8:46] From Engineering to Law, how did this switch happen? And why Law? Kathi went back to the roots: what did she want to be when she was seven — the smartest lawyer alive, or a pro baseball player!

[12:23] Kathi touches on some core challenges she tackled when switching from Science to Law. … you have to memorize so much stuff and you can’t derive your answers!

[13:21] Sarita asks how Kathi started building her practice at Winston and Strawn and how she established herself even as a young lawyer.

[16:50] What is Prosecution-Laches?

[18:36] Are there any other steps to building a practice?

[19:52] Sarita highlights the fact that Kathi is really good with social media and if this was a conscious choice. Kathi explains how it was a driver in her diversity and inclusion practice.

[24:38] Kathi shares two moments in her career when she felt like she failed and what it taught her.

[32:06] Sarita asks if there was ever a moment when Kathi advocated for herself.

[35:53] Sarita asks Kathi what her personal mantra is and thanks her for coming on to the podcast and sharing her story and signs off until next time.

That’s it for this episode of Heels of Justice; if you like the stories we’re telling, please visit our website. You can join our mailing list, learn more about our guests and see what we have planned for the future.

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Disclaimer: The opinions you have heard are ours or our guest’s alone. They’re not the opinions of our employers, or our clients, or our bosses, and not our husbands, kids or pets or anyone else’s.


Mentioned in this episode (chronological order)

Winston and Strawn


GE Aerospace

The Edison Engineering Development Program

Apache Helicopter

F16 aim guns

F18 aim guns

C-17 Transport (the control stick circuitry designed by Kathi is still in use!)


Jerome H. Lemelson


Santa Clara University

Professor Donald L. Chisum

Karen Boyd — Turner Boyd

Invention disclosure

Brené Brown

Book: Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide, by Linda Babcock
and Sara Laschever

Book: One Size Does Not Fit All


More about the Heels of Justice, Sarita Venkat, and Katherine Minarik

Heels of Justice on the Web

Heels of Justice on Twitter

Heels of Justice on Instagram

Heels of Justice on Facebook


Sarita Venkat on LinkedIn

Katherine Minarik on LinkedIn

Katherine Minarik on Twitter

Katherine Minarik at cleverbridge


More about today’s Heels of Justice guest, Kathi Vidal

Kathi’s profile on Winston and Strawn

Kathi’s LinkedIn

Kathi’s Twitter

Winston and Strawn’s LinkedIn

Winston and Strawn’s Facebook


Kathi Vidal’s personal stories (edited)

“I had a case that involved Lemelson and a patent relating to a semiconducting material, not a conductor like a metal that heat can go through and not an insulator like an oven that the heat can’t go through, but something in-between. His patent was developed in a way that made it look like he owned semiconductors! That was a hot issue at the time that I faced the Lemelson case, and instead of just focusing on what are the answers the client needed right now, I started developing CLE material, I started reading every case in that area so that I could have a more expansive knowledge base.”

“I realized although I had a patent trial really early in my career, that they’re somewhat few and far between, so what I did was I signed up to teach a course at Santa Clara University on patent law. So a number of nights a week I would stand up in front of people and have to teach them about patent law and teach them about the different examples in the case books. That gave me a real opportunity to develop as a lawyer, and from there I started getting speaking gigs and those gave me the opportunity to dig in deep on different topics and be on my feet, and have to answer questions quickly — which is exactly what you need to do in court — and again people get to know you.”