In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we asked members of MoFo’s Technology Transactions Group from across our offices to share their thoughts on the month-long celebration, their advice for the next generation of law students, and why they feel diversity is crucial to providing innovative solutions for our clients.
Established in February 2019, our Boston office is home to an exceptional team of lawyers dedicated to delivering success to clients in their market-shaping matters in the technology and life sciences sectors. We represent emerging and established companies and their sponsors—leading innovators that define Boston’s cutting-edge market. Highlighting the office’s commitment to providing an inclusive and welcoming work environment, MoFo Boston was recognized as a “Best Places to Work” honoree by the Boston Business Journal two years in a row in 2020 and 2021. Half of all the group’s lawyers in the Boston office are lawyers of color and 50% are women. Members of this team are also actively engaged in the firm’s affinity groups and networking events.
MoFo’s New York office is home to a number of market-leading practices, including our active technology licensing and transactional practice, which focuses on clients in the internet, interactive media and entertainment, outsourcing, and life sciences industries. All of the practice group’s lawyers in the New York office are lawyers of color and 80% are women. The New York office provides a number of trainings and networking events for diverse staff and lawyers. In addition, affinity groups, such as the New York Asian Associates, New York Asian Women, New York Attorneys and Paralegals of Color, New York LGBTQ+, New York Women of Color, and New York Women, aim to create a strong community and reinforce our culture of inclusion.
Boston Partner Matt Karlyn, who has 24 years of experience working with companies in the healthcare, pharmaceutical, medical device, and technology industries, echoes the sentiment shared by many of his colleagues when it comes to the importance of diversity in his practice group and to the firm’s clients.
“Morrison & Foerster’s unwavering commitment to diversity in both background and experience is abundantly reflected in our East Coast Technology Transactions and Life Sciences Transactions + Licensing practices. More than half of our East Coast-based TTG and LST + L attorneys have Asia Pacific backgrounds,” states Matt.
“Our diversity makes us better colleagues, better lawyers, and better at meeting the needs of our clients. We are incredibly proud of our diverse team throughout MoFo’s East Coast offices as well as throughout our TTG and LST + L practices across the United States.”
MoFo’s Technology Transactions Group has always recognized the importance of diversity and inclusion. That is why the U.S. group, of which 68% of its members identify as female, minority, or LGBTQ+, continues to leverage the creativity and innovation its members bring to our clients’ most difficult legal and commercial issues.
Read what some of the other lawyers in Boston and New York’s Technology Transactions Group had to say about the significance of celebrating this month every year:
Lauren Tran Abel is an associate in the firm’s Boston office. Her practice focuses on representing emerging and established life sciences clients in a wide range of commercial transactions, particularly those that are intellectual property-driven.
Q: How have you seen the legal industry shift in recent years with respect to Asian Pacific American inclusion?
A: As an Asian Pacific American, I find it inspiring for a large international and diverse law firm like MoFo to establish its presence in Boston, where historically there’s been a lack of diversity in many local firms, particularly in leadership positions. At MoFo, I interact with many attorneys of color on a regular basis and seeing many of them in leadership positions at MoFo is empowering because that means the firm is truly committed to diversity and I have a wealth of role models to help me develop my skills and career. Diversity is particularly important in my life sciences practice as I regularly work with scientist-clients from all over the world.
Mai Zymaris is an associate in Morrison & Foerster’s Boston office. Her practice focuses on technology and intellectual property matters, and represents pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, and technology companies in complex licensing, collaboration, and strategic alliance transactions.
Q: How, if at all, has being Asian Pacific American made you a better/different kind of lawyer?
A: My background as a first-generation immigrant from Vietnam has shaped me into not only a more well-rounded attorney but a better person as well. My experience has pushed me into becoming entrepreneurial, creative, and solution-oriented. I can now handle highly complex intellectual property and commercial matters for our technology and life sciences clients.
While working with affinity groups and activities, I have built an extensive network in both the United States and Asia. Many of the contacts I’ve made now run cutting-edge, disruptive businesses that are making incredible impact. A good number of them have become clients of the firm.
One example of this, our firm recently closed a $36M equity round for Republic, a pioneer in crowd-investing platforms that aims to become the next Amazon for private investing. Some call it the next unicorn in Fintech. We have also represented Cellens, Inc., a promising biotech startup spin-out from Tufts University, which aims to innovate cancer analysis through cell imaging of the highest resolution. The CEOs of both companies are of Vietnamese heritage; I have gotten to know each one personally through our engagement in nonprofit, Vietnam-based activities.
In addition to Republic and Cellens, I have represented other businesses founded by Asian Pacific Americans alongside our partner Matt Karlyn and other colleagues. This opportunity has allowed me to make the road easier for these companies to focus on the matters most important to grow their businesses and, in turn, to make the greatest impact on the world. Each opportunity has inspired me. Time and again, I marvel at the resilience, the boldness, and tenacity of these entrepreneurs to achieve the immense successes they have attained.
Beyond the standard definitions of success, our API clients have taught me the importance of caring for causes bigger than myself. These clients have instilled in me the courage to challenge myself to become the best lawyer I can be.
Wendy Chu is an associate in Morrison & Foerster’s New York office. She has experience advising technology, media, and communications companies on technology and intellectual property issues. She assists in drafting and negotiating licensing, joint venture, and outsourcing agreements
Q: What does Asian Pacific American Heritage month mean to you?
A: To me, APA Heritage Month is a fundamentally American occasion that celebrates the intrepid Asian pioneers and families who have made (and are making) America their home.
Learn more about the many talented lawyers leading the way for MoFo Technology Transactions Group.