Our annual Student Summer Series presents first-person reflections from a few Berkeley Law students who are engaged in intriguing summer work across a wide swath of practice areas. While only a sampling of the valuable job experience and skill development students gain all over the legal landscape, we hope the series provides a glimpse into the rewarding opportunities they regularly access, often in partnership with our Career Development Office.
Rising 2L Marah Ajilat has worked at the intersection of digital technology and justice to expand access to accountability mechanisms for victims of human rights violations, leveraging digital advertising tools and big data to boost fundraising efforts and impact elections. With Berkeley Law’s Startup Law Initiative, she helps provide pro bono legal incorporation services under attorney supervision to entrepreneurs facing financial barriers. This summer, Ajilat was among about 45 law students from across the country chosen by the Law in Tech Diversity Collaborative to work for five weeks at a tech company and five weeks at a law firm.
Below, she describes her two-prong summer experience at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, a multinational company that specializes in business information technology, and at the law firm Sidley Austin, which has over 2,000 attorneys in 20 offices worldwide.
As I embarked on my journey through law school, my passion for working on cutting-edge issues with like-minded individuals led me to pursue a career that transcended traditional boundaries. The dynamic world of the tech industry particularly appealed to me, although I lacked prior experience in this domain.
I came to law school with a background in politics, which I felt pigeonholed me as a Middle Eastern native Arabic speaker. But I was eager to expand my horizons and explore the intersection of law and technology. So, when I learned about the Law in Tech Diversity Collaborative, I knew it was a chance I couldn’t pass up.
The Law in Tech Diversity Collaborative presented a truly unique experience for a first-year student like me. Splitting my summer between Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Sidley Austin was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Sidley exposed me to areas of the law that I had never encountered before, like corporate venture capital. Areas I had previously ruled myself out from, like intellectual property, seemed more accessible at HPE. Most importantly, I had the privilege of meeting and working with people with fascinating stories and backgrounds from all over the globe. I am walking away with an even greater sense of excitement and pride in joining the legal community in Northern California.
In terms of specific assignments I’ve been able to do this summer, one that stands out is researching case law related to generative artificial intelligence and intellectual property to determine possible arguments and defenses. I also researched case law regarding post-closing monetary damages in shareholder suits regarding merger and acquisition deals to determine the considerations dealmakers should make when taking a public company private.
What truly sets my experience apart is the genuine care for diversity. The Law in Tech Diversity Collaborative promises to commit to inclusion, and both Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Sidley deliver.
This program opened my eyes to a plethora of new possibilities. It empowered me to reimagine my future and take control of my career, free from internal or external expectations. Through exposure to novel areas of the law, different ways of thinking, and inspiring individuals, my summer has reinforced my commitment to pursuing a career at the forefront of law and tech.
I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in this program, and I am excited to embark on the next phase of my professional journey, empowered and inspired by the experiences I have gained.