Keker & Van Nest patent litigator Quyen Ta represents companies like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company in big-dollar litigation. Ta is a lead partner defending TSMC at the ITC, where Tela Innovations accuses it of infringing patents on cell libraries and seeks an import ban. Ta also represents TSMC in its trade secret misappropriation and breach of contract countersuit. But she's most proud of co-founding the Vietnamese American Bar Association of Northern California's public interest fellowship. She and co-founders Andrew Vu and Thanh Ngo raise $50,000 each year to launch the career of a young public interest lawyer. "I began my legal career through a public interest fellowship and am grateful for the doors of opportunity that first legal job opened," Ta says.
What do you like about working in tech?
I love the culture of boundless possibility and opportunity that permeates the tech sector. It is a space where success can be achieved by the underdog, one that changed the fortunes of my family and that drives my success today. My parents were Vietnamese boat people who established amazing careers in tech despite not having college degrees or command of the English language when they arrived in the United States. At the end of their careers, my father was a production manager for a global electronics manufacturing company who had 700 direct reports, and my mother was a circuit board designer for over 30 years for a company that designs semiconductors and software.
What don't you like about working in tech?
It is still relatively rare to see women and people of color in positions of power in tech. But I think that is slowly changing. I am encouraged by the talented lawyers and executives who I work with and their shared view that a diverse workforce leads to success and excellence.
One piece of advice you'd give a woman starting out in tech law?
You will often be the only woman in the room, whether it's in a meeting, in the board room or in court. Do not be intimidated. Remember that your voice matters.
Time saving tip?
Close your e-mail box if you need to get something done. The constant pinging and interruption will detract from your concentration and focus, and the world will not end if you respond 30 minutes later.
Name the most overhyped thing in tech today.
Voice recognition technology; although that technology is getting better over time. I have no doubt that Siri and I will be carrying on full conversations one day.
Whose job do you wish you had?
If I were not a lawyer, I would love to be an entrepreneur running my own cosmetics empire.