From large firms to nonprofits and government agencies to startups, Berkeley Law students are currently immersed in a dizzying array of enriching jobs. Throughout the summer, we will present first-person accounts from students who are doing compelling work.
A native of Wales, Siobhan McGurk ’23 owned and ran a retail store inside the National Museum of Wales for 6½ years. As a University of Wisconsin graduate student, she taught over 120 students, won an early career teaching prize, and received three fellowships and grants for her research on capitalism, race, and gender. McGurk also ran all operations for a 2016 Oakland City Council election campaign and helped develop an online learning platform. At Berkeley Law, she is vice president of education and training at the Startup Law Initiative and building connections editor at the Berkeley Business Law Journal.
Below, McGurk describes her summer work experience at Blend:
Everyone’s first year of law school is challenging, but the Class of 2023 had it harder than most. We spent 10 months holed up in our apartments, behind laptop screens, rarely (if ever) meeting fellow students. We tried (and succeeded) to find community through chat apps and dreamt of our second year on campus. Unfortunately, in December it was clear that most of our summer jobs would also be virtual.
So, when I started searching for internships, I was armed with a list of requirements: “Interesting work, good people, aligns with my values, excited to run a remote program.” I couldn’t have been luckier; at Blend, I’ve found all these things as well as invaluable career insights.
Blend provides a cloud-based software platform to financial services firms that is designed to power the end-to-end consumer journey for any banking product — so that getting a loan, mortgage, or deposit account, for example, is simpler, more transparent, and faster. Financial services is a highly regulated space, so Blend has developed a large and diverse in-house legal team.
During my first week I was amazed to find that I was joining a legal and compliance team of nearly 30 people! Blend’s attorneys include commercial counsel, product, and regulatory counsel, employment counsel, and corporate counsel. I also work alongside non-attorneys who specialize in compliance, vendor management, and operations.
I chose to spend my summer at Blend because after law school I hope to work with emerging companies. Being at Blend gives me the chance to learn firsthand about the kinds of legal and business challenges facing technology companies, and what role in-house counsel plays in helping the business navigate those challenges.
Crucially, I’ve also observed how outside counsel provides value to their startup clients. These kinds of insights will undoubtedly help me become a better and more thoughtful attorney.
Along with fellow Berkeley Law student Sam Henze ’23, I’ve worked on a variety of interesting and challenging projects including reviewing commercial contracts, helping draft new streamlined non-disclosure agreements, and working with the internal corporate team on securities and corporate governance matters. I’m currently researching an issue related to Telephone Consumer Protection Act liability.
It’s exciting to use some of the skills and knowledge I learned at Berkeley Law in Business Associations, Legal Research and Writing, and at the Startup Law Initiative to do real and substantive legal work. I’ve also learned so much from the attorneys at Blend, all of whom are incredibly generous with their time. Each has taken a different path to in-house work, giving me a much better sense of the diversity of the legal landscape and possible future career paths.
Even though the legal and compliance team is spread across the country — from the Bay Area to New York and Houston — we work together seamlessly, even finding time to socialize at the weekly legal and compliance Friday breakfast. Excitingly, next month the whole team will gather in-person for an onsite day at Blend’s San Francisco headquarters. I can’t wait to see the offices, and to finally meet my colleagues!