January 8, 2024

Josh Seidenfeld on being a Lawyer in the Heart of Silicon Valley

Enclosed in this file: Silicon Valley law, balancing innovation and legal compliance, Cooley's partnership program and common startup mistakes from a legal perspective.

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Episode Ten

Your host for this episode is Sophie Svenson and Ella Cleary.

Josh Seidenfeld

In this episode, we sit down with Josh Seidenfeld, a partner at Cooley, a prominent Silicon Valley law firm deeply entrenched in the startup ecosystem. Join us as Josh unravels his captivating journey from college athlete to holding dual MBA/JD degrees, delving into pivotal experiences that have shaped his trajectory in the world of startups.

Our conversation kicks off with Josh's athletic and academic background—his initial pursuit of a professional athlete's career, a college sports journey, and a resilient shift to academia and law school. Josh navigated his way to a dual MBA/JD degree, setting the stage for a multifaceted career.

Josh recounts the twists and turns that led him to Cooley from his summer associate role, and a subsequent deferral to join a startup during the 2008 financial crisis. Josh takes us through his transition back to Cooley, exploring the considerations of sacrificing startup leadership opportunities for Big Law training and credibility. He provides an inside look into Cooley's partnership process, shedding light on practice group focus, internal feedback, and the formal review that propelled him to partnership.

The heart of the conversation revolves around Josh's current role advising startups and high-growth companies. He shares insights into guiding companies through the entire lifecycle—from formation to IPO—focusing on critical areas like employment, expansion, and strategic financing decisions. Josh provides valuable perspectives on avoiding common startup mistakes and the importance of long-term client relationships.

Delving into the innovative side of legal practice, Josh shares his approach to creatively interpreting regulations to foster innovative business models while demonstrating good faith efforts to comply. He underlines the dynamic intersection of legal compliance and innovation.

As we wrap up, Josh reflects on the rewarding aspects of long-term client relationships, drawing parallels to his inspiration in advising founders over the years, witnessing product launches, and contributing to the success of startups.

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