Apr 8, 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.
Today, the Heels of Justice interview Michelle Fang, the Chief Legal Officer of Turo.
[:41] Katherine welcomes Michelle Fang, CLO of Turo, to the Heels of Justice podcast.
[1:09] Michelle talks a bit about where she grew up, her college years in communications and how an infamous class veered her path towards Law.
[4:19] Katherine asks what her experience of Law School was like and what positions she held after graduating.
[6:15] Michelle delves a bit deeper into her expansive experience with eBay as well as the types of legal issues they would face.
[8:08] Katherine ask what was it like as an in-house counsel making the decision to take a big case to trial
[9:00] Katherine asks Michelle why she was so successful climbing the ranks at the organizations she worked for.
[13:58] Has Michelle faced any moment in her career where she was treated differently because she is a woman?
[17:11] Michelle shares the story of how she made the decision to leave eBay for Turo.
[19:43] What is Turo and how has her legal team grown since she started there? Michelle shares some of the biggest challenges she has faced in the first three years.
[22:07] On Michelle’s role in the gender diversity in law firms letter — signed by 170 GCs — that made the rounds.
[26:57] Katherine asks what kind of response Michelle has had from that letter?
[29:40] Why is this issue of diversity representation so important to Michelle? And what comes after the letter: Michelle is building a list of best practices for GCs with experts in the field.
[30:49] And what comes after the letter? Michelle breaks down her current three-phase process for building a knowledge base on diversity and inclusion, listing best practices, and measuring success over the years.
[33:16] Katherine asks if Michelle has a story to share about facing failure.
[38:45] What advice would Michelle give her young self? Go to Italy!
[40:035] Katherine thanks Michelle for sharing so much of her experience on the Heels of Justice podcast and she 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.
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)
More about the Heels of Justice, Sarita Venkat, and Katherine Minarik
Sarita Venkat on LinkedIn
Katherine Minarik on LinkedIn
Katherine Minarik on Twitter
Katherine Minarik at cleverbridge
Michelle’s personal stories (edited)
“I took my client’s work very seriously when I worked at a law firm, and I really threw myself into the cases. But when I went in-house, I did find that when it’s your company — and your colleagues are counting on you, the CEO is counting on you and you have to look them in the eye and explain the impact of these decisions and of these rulings — in some ways, the stresses are larger.”
“My goal was to be the GC of a startup so I actually wanted to move into a non-litigation role — I didn't think anyone was going to give me a chance to do that if all I’ve ever done is litigation — but I could not for the life of me get anyone to interview me in-house for anything other than litigation. I told my GC at eBay: ‘I need to do something other than litigation, and I’m going to do that this year. I hope that that’s at eBay and I hope that an opportunity will present itself, but if it doesn't, I’m going to find another role in the coming year.’ I had made my wishes known and I had proven myself in the role that I had, so when a role leading the IP team opened up, it was offered to me.”
“After coming back from maternity leave for a few weeks, my new boss gave me a very underwhelming review: it was a huge blow and no matter how much I tried to change his mind in the months after, nothing would do. So I had to decide what was important for me in this role — what my boss thought of me, or the work that I did to support and enable my team to do a really good job. That failed review let me reshift my focus from external validation to the key elements of the role. It turns out that when I stopped trying to prove myself to him and focused on the work, his perception of me began to change and turned completely around. So it helped me internalize this idea that the focus needs to be the work, not what people think of you.”
More about Michelle Fang
Michelle Fang at Turo
Michelle Fang on LinkedIn