Signing Up For Silicon Valley

With technology quickly becoming the nation’s hotbed sector, Scott C. Taylor wanted a taste of the action. He found it at Symantec, one of the largest computer software companies in the world.

After graduating from Stanford University in 1986 with a degree in international relations, I went to work for the US Securities and Exchange Commission as a financial analyst. I knew I eventually wanted to go to law school, but I wanted to spend some time working—and I needed a break from school. After the SEC, I worked at a consulting firm for a short time before going to law school, staying in Washington, DC, and attending George Washington University.

After law school, I joined a large law firm in San Francisco, where I had been a summer associate. I viewed the firm as a continuation of my legal education, although I did not necessarily think that I would end up staying there for the duration of my career. I practiced corporate and commercial law, representing some large companies, but also some smaller start-up technology companies. I found it interesting, and being in the Bay Area, felt there was a great opportunity in tech.

Eventually, I left the firm and went to Symantec. I worked as in-house counsel, focusing on intellectual-property [IP] licensing transactions, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate legal work for the company. After a couple of years, I left Symantec to pursue some other in-house opportunities, but I eventually ended up back at Symantec, in 2007, and have been here since.

For me, it was the fact that the technology was changing so rapidly and that the Bay Area was one of the hubs of innovation in that space. They were exploring new business models and creating new categories. It is an interesting field to be associated with, and there are interesting legal issues that go along with that.

I prefer being in-house, as opposed to being a part of a firm, because I enjoy having an investment in the business side of things and being part of the leadership of the company. I enjoy having a vested interest in the company’s success.

You need to make sure you have a good patent processes so that valuable inventions are noted to legal. It’s an important aspect of the technology industry.

There’s a lot of shared technologies, and you need to make sure you understand how open source is used within the software that you are distributing. There are many programs that are built upon the standards or the technologies of other companies and that require the technology to be handled in a certain way.

Because things change quickly and transactions are common, you must have a good understanding of your IP so you can properly define what is being transferred and keep whatever rights are necessary.

We are always focused on the bottom line. We’re very careful about the investments we make in IP, how we manage litigation, and how we manage spending. The job is demanding in that there’s a higher degree of cost consciousness.

Recently, there has been a lot of interest in issues of privacy. There has been a focus in Washington, DC, and the European Union on legislation to protect people’s privacy
online. We have had to assess how that might impact our business.

Corruption within the sales channels for software has become a focus of the government, particularly outside of the United States. I have to be vigilant about making sure we do business in a way that is in compliance with not only the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act here in the United States, but also the new UK Bribery Act, which has extraterritorial effect.

There are about 200 people in the global legal and public affairs department—with approximately 80 attorneys. One of the advantages of having some scale is that we can have specialization within the group. We have people who are experts in securities law, employment law, IP law, and commercial law.

I feel responsibility for the success of the company as a member of the executive staff. I come to work every day thinking about how to make Symantec better.