While earning her JD at UC Law SF (formerly UC Hastings) of the Law, Maryam Quasto focused on the intersection of law and business, which made her a perfect candidate to launch the Paragon Career Connect program. Maryam shares how the diversity initiative for corporate lawyers positioned her well for her assignment at Dropbox, where she is learning the art of negotiation, how to serve clients well, and manage risk. As a testament to her growth during the program, Maryam has accepted a full-time position at Dropbox.
Favorite parts of the job
It is difficult to pinpoint one favorite, but working closely with the senior Dropbox attorneys on difficult negotiations involving data privacy issues was a highlight of my experience. I gained a better understanding of how to foreshadow and spot potential legal issues to mitigate risk and harm. I also think that the ability to engage in various live negotiations with counterparties has allowed me to adapt my legal analysis and negotiation skills.
Moving diversity forward
Career Connect’s focus on diversity matters to me. As an Iraqi immigrant and first-generation lawyer in the United States, it is important to me to see more representation in the legal field. I believe that my background and culture provide me with a distinctive legal perspective. In law school, I appreciated other students with diverse and unique backgrounds coming together to work through legal problems and analysis. Working in a diverse cohort allows us to be better informed and deliver more holistic solutions to difficult legal issues.
High expectations create meaningful opportunities
One of the most surprising aspects of starting my career in-house has been the ability to really take a hands-on approach to learning the profession. Early on, I was assigned my own workload and clients to manage, and that in and of itself created a unique opportunity to practice the law. That initial work ownership provided a chance for me to grow and shine, so much so that Dropbox asked me to become an employee. Being an Associate Commercial Counsel on the legal team of such a well-regarded, publicly traded company at this point in my career is thrilling and the best type of challenge to have.
Learning the client’s view
My experience on a corporate team has really allowed me to gain a grasp and understanding of delivering on client needs. As attorneys, we tend to be risk averse, but having to work so closely with business clients has allowed me to adjust my approach. I am learning to deliver legal counsel to ensure that I mitigate risks while also keeping us moving toward the end goal.
Parlaying law school success to in-house demands
I advise any law student curious about corporate law and in-house life to be open-minded and willing to learn! Law school provides a good foundational understanding of the interpretation of legal issues and risks. But rather than being a roadblock, you need to ensure that you’re delivering to your client creative and solution-oriented counsel.
In shifting to her Full-Time Employee role with Dropbox, Maryam continues to draw from the wisdom of her mentors and advisors in the Paragon Connect program. Proud of her experience in the program, Maryam is happy to serve as an example and contact for law students interested in starting their in-house careers.
If championing and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal industry is important to your company and you enjoy nurturing new attorneys, a partnership with Paragon Legal on our Career Connect program could be a great fit for your company. Please connect with our team at Daphne@paragonlegal.com if you’re interested in participating or want to learn more!