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Drinks With The Deal: Cynthia Cole Discusses In-House Practice, Evolution of Tech Transactions

Published: January 5th, 2023
Baker McKenzie IP and data privacy partner Cynthia Cole talks about her experiences as an in-house lawyer at tech companies and how the focus of her tech transactions practice has shifted to data.

Cynthia Cole learned the importance of managing the cadence of a negotiation early in her career as an in-house lawyer at a technology company, she said on this week’s Drinks With The Deal podcast. Her boss at the time told Cole, now an IP and data privacy partner at Baker & McKenzie LLP in Palo Alto, Calif., that she shouldn’t be afraid to pause a negotiation but instead should “use those pauses to get more information and to see how badly the other side really wants what they’re asking for.”

That skill is also important in understanding what in-house lawyers want from outside counsel, she said: “So much of showing your expertise is sitting back and giving your client the space to tell you who they are and what they need.”

Cole was on the other end of that exchange for much of her career. After being a senior in-house lawyer at two companies in Paris from 2006 to 2013, she returned to Silicon Valley to discover that companies there were less attuned to the increasing importance of data privacy and cybersecurity than their European counterparts.

Nevertheless, she worked her way back into the in-house market and from 2015 to 2017 was general counsel and then interim CEO at Spectra7 Microsystems Inc. She then returned to private practice, where she saw an opportunity to advise companies on tech transactions at a time where the key issues in those agreements have shifted and, she said, “become much less focussed on pure IP like patents and much more focused on data and artificial intelligence and the consumption and monetization of data.”

Listen to the podcast with Cynthia Cole:

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