Apr 8, 2021
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 welcome Kristin Sverchek, General Counsel for Lyft. She is an award-winning lawyer with an incredible career. She shares a wealth of tips and advice from hiring to juggling time, motherhood, and big egos.
Kristin Sverchek has led Lyft’s legal team and strategy as General Counsel since November 2012. In that time, she has helped Lyft grow from a private to a public company and an IPO and currently leads a legal team of more than 130 people. Kristin started her career working in private practice as a corporate transactional lawyer at both Gunderson Dettmer and Silicon Legal Strategy before going in-house at Lyft in 2012. Sverchek majored in Molecular and Cell Biology at UC Berkeley, graduating in 2004. She received her law degree in 2007 from UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.
[1:07] Sarita welcomes Kristin Sverchek to the Heels of Justice and asks her to talk about herself, where she grew up, how she came to law from an undergrad in molecular and cell biology.
[4:01] Kristin touches on how the scientific thought process and that of law are similar in their rational linearity.
[5:37] From law school to becoming the GC of Lyft, Kristin walks us through losing her first job and joining a small silicon valley corporate transactional practice where she met the Lyft founders.
[9:55] Kristin speaks to the insecurities of becoming a GC so soon out of law school and why she decided to go for it! She also breaks down the reasons why she thinks she got the job. (Tune in for tips!)
[12:26] What kinds of surprises does the GC position hold? Kristen shares a few times her position revealed the differences between in-house and outside counsel.
[15:52] What makes Lyft, Lyft?
[17:04] Going from being a one-woman legal team to having a team of about 130 people is a challenge; Kristin shares some pointers!
[19:07] How do you hire for a successful startup, from private to public and IPO? Finding agile candidates goes by way of how they handle their own mistakes.
[22:02] Diversity and inclusion at Lyft are very intentional — Kristin shares how her initial insecurities turned into hiring practice.
[24:07] Kristin put together the parental leave policy at Lyft and how it evolved during her own maternity leave!
[27:50] Employee growth is now part of company culture and it started with the first people Kristin hired who got a ton of executive exposure and aligns with the legal team’s specific vision, mission, and values.
[30:21] Kristin speaks to the challenges she has faced in her career both as a woman and as a GC.
[32:32] What time management skills is Kristin hiding!? It just maybe, in part thanks to Tom.
[35:22] Thinking long-term can prevent burnout, Kristin talks about the written advice she’s been sharing. She shares what her own long-term vision is.
[38:15] Big egos are run of the mill in the tech industry, Kristin shares how she chooses to interact (or not) with those individuals.
[40:39] Kristin advocates for herself in a few ways but the trap she chooses to avoid is misunderstanding: be very clear about what you do, want, need, and expect. She shares an example.
[43:40] Kristin and her husband carpool every day, thanks to Lyft.
[44:33] Sarita thanks Kristin for sharing so much of her story and expertise 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 guests’ 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.
More about the Heels of Justice hosts Sarita Venkat, and Katherine Minarik
Sarita Venkat on LinkedIn
Katherine Minarik on LinkedIn
Katherine Minarik on Twitter
Katherine Minarik at cleverbridge
More about our guest
Kristin Sverchek on LinkedIn
Mentioned in this episode