Based in S&C’s Los Angeles office, Diane clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas on the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III on the Fourth Circuit. She represents clients in federal and state litigation matters at both the trial and appellate level, with a particular focus on shareholder litigation and the defense of private class-action securities and antitrust litigation.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Diane holds her clerkship experience in high regard.
Did your judges share any wisdom that you’ve applied as a lawyer at S&C?
Diane: Absolutely. Both of my judges taught me that, if you want to be heard, you need to speak up. One of the best things about being a clerk is that you’re surrounded by extremely intelligent—and sometimes very opinionated—people. To be successful, you have to quickly learn how and when to voice your opinions, and to have confidence in those opinions. The same is true at a law firm. Often young associates know the answer to a question or have an idea about how to approach an issue but are too timid to speak up or are unsure of what the proper “protocol” is. As I learned from my judges, if you can offer advice and recommendations to your judge, who has already reached the pinnacle of the profession, you should be able to do the same thing at a law firm no matter who the audience is. It’s just a matter of figuring out the right time and manner.
Tell us about a case you worked on recently that you found especially compelling.
Diane: I recently represented a client in a series of disputes that really highlights the breadth of our practice at S&C. The client was the CEO of a major semiconductor company. He initially came to S&C for corporate advice at a time when his company was in the midst of an internal investigation about potential accounting fraud. Less than a month later, he learned that he was a target of the investigation. We spent the next five years representing the client in negotiating his separation from the company and resignation from the board of directors; DOJ and SEC investigations into the accounting issues at his prior company and a related securities fraud lawsuit; a contract suit and an unlawful termination suit that he brought against his former employer; and a theft-of-trade-secrets lawsuit that the former employer brought against him and the new company that he had formed.
What were some of the challenges you faced during this case?
Diane: Given the issues and the different nature of the representations, we ended up being pulled in opposite directions quite a bit of the time. We were often aligned with our client’s former employees in the government investigations and the securities litigation, but at the same time we were at war with them in the other disputes. That made it a very difficult needle to thread.
What was the most interesting aspect of this case?
Diane: The most interesting part had to be handling so many different types of matters at the same time. One day we needed to become accounting experts. The next we had to learn the intricacies of California employment law. And the next we had to learn about how to make semiconductors—which, admittedly, required me to start with a high school physics textbook! Learning a completely new industry or area of law is challenging; learning several at the same time is a monumental task. But this is exactly why I came to S&C. Our clients come to us with a wide range of complex problems and you have the chance to be involved in all of them. That’s what makes this job interesting. No matter how senior you get, you’re always learning.