Jana Gold and Leecia Welch may have moved on from MoFo, but they haven’t forgotten the valuable learning experiences they had while they practiced here. In the winter 2019 edition of MoForever, both women discuss how their experiences and the support they received at MoFo advanced their careers.
Former Palo Alto of counsel Jana Gold is using the analytical and issue-spotting skills she developed at MoFo to improve the lives of healthcare patients relying on access to drugs and treatments. As associate general counsel for Jazz Pharmaceuticals, she is helping to navigate the many risks and complexities associated with the heavily regulated pharmaceutical industry, such as regulatory disputes and government investigations.
Jana points out that “The biggest difference between being an outside litigator and an in-house lawyer is that when you are part of the company, you hope to manage and avoid the risk of those things happening. It helps to work for a company where integrity and collaboration are some of the core values that define the work and the people.”
She admits there was a steep learning curve in transforming from a generalist IP and commercial litigator to the complex world of pharmaceutical law. But she credits her litigation experiences at MoFo with being able to meet the challenge, since every new case was a new opportunity to learn and understand each client’s technology. “It’s true, I was mostly on the IP side of the Litigation Department—patents and later trade-secrets cases—but in a wide range of industries and areas. And I also did a lot of commercial disputes and even some securities work,” recalls Jana. “All of that gave me a fair amount of flexibility—and confidence that when a new opportunity came up I would be able to jump in.”
Jana joined MoFo out of law school as an associate and later served in an of counsel role and—aside from a couple of breaks including maternity leave and a leave of absence—was with the firm for 20 years.
MoFo alumna Leecia Welch is using her litigation experience to transform the lives of children living in extreme poverty by improving child welfare policies. Now senior director of child welfare and legal advocacy with the National Center for Youth Law (NCYL), Leecia joins MoFo partner Jack Londen, who serves on NCYL’s board of directors, and fellow MoFo alum and present-day NCYL senior director for strategic advocacy Seth Galanter in driving forward the organization’s long-standing mission to improve the system of care that thousands of children depend on.
Founded in 1970, NCYL is one of the only legal advocacy organizations in the country that mobilizes such broad-scale litigation efforts to address system-wide change. For Leecia, it’s personal. The daughter of a social worker, she has witnessed firsthand what can happen to children who “get lost in the system” due to a lack of protection and limited opportunities to thrive.
Leecia decided to pursue a legal career in children’s advocacy and completed a three-year children’s fellowship at Loyola Law School. During her time at MoFo as an associate in the San Francisco Litigation Group, Leecia gained significant experience working on landmark pro bono cases such as Williams v. State of California, which resulted in a settlement of nearly $1 billion that was allocated to improving California’s public school system.
Leecia noted that during her time at MoFo, she saw firsthand the commitment to client-focused advocacy. “A big takeaway for me from the Williams case was the importance of amplifying the voices of our clients,” said Leecia. “When people hear directly from youth about their challenges, struggles, hopes, and dreams, it has a much greater impact than just having their lawyer talk and make legal arguments.”
At NCYL, Leecia is handling a mix of litigation matters, from individual cases with the potential to make broad impacts to complex, system-altering class actions. Just after leaving MoFo, she had the chance to partner with MoFo pro bono attorneys on one of her first and most memorable cases, an impact litigation case filed in 1993 in Utah called David C. According to Leecia, their collaborative efforts “turned Utah from one of the worst child-welfare systems in the country to one of the best.”
Leecia and NCYL are also focused on helping immigrant children detained at the U.S. border by setting up special protections regarding the conditions of detention facilities. MoFo pro bono attorneys have also stepped up to help zero in on fingerprinting delays resulting in an escalating number of children being held in federal custody
These are just some of the stories featured in the winter 2019 edition of MoForever. You can also read about other MoFo alumni on the move, recent accomplishments, new alumni members, and firm additions, as well as a recap of the events where we reconnected with our alumni members.
Access your digital copy of MoForever: Winter 2019 here.