Catching Up With Alumni
Shirin Baradaran ’18
Legal Counsel, Fidelity Investments
Describe your work: I am currently in-house counsel for Fidelity Investments. My area of focus is asset management and specifically registered investment funds. While my day-to-day responsibilities vary, fundamentally I help the business solve problems and develop and execute its strategies in a way that complies with applicable laws. I get to help the business understand its obligations, develop plans for compliance, effectively communicate those plans to both internal and external stakeholders, and assist with many other projects to keep the business moving in the right direction.
What activities do you enjoy outside of work? I enjoy reading, cooking (especially Persian food), gardening, exploring New England and spending time with my family, friends and 1-year-old golden retriever. I am also currently an elected official in the town of Dedham, Massachusetts. I am chair of the town’s Board of Library Trustees, which consists of five community members elected by the town to oversee the library’s operations and strategic plans.
Are you where you expected to be at this stage of your career and life? While I try to not approach life with too many expectations, I’ve always wanted to learn about and experience as many things as possible. So far, I have been able to work for startups, a big law firm, both the federal and local government, and now a large financial institution. I’ve been privileged to learn about many different industries and legal practices, and to use that knowledge to try to help those around me. That’s more than I could ever have hoped for by this point in my career and life!
What do you like about your life 5 years after law school? I most appreciate the perspective that I have gained over that time. Over the past five years, so much has happened personally, professionally and globally — I moved across the country, got married, changed jobs, ran for elected office, faced a global pandemic, bought and renovated a house, raised a puppy and so much more. Each of those things presented its own challenges and collectively taught me to be more patient with myself and trust in the journey. I also am so grateful for the mentors and friends who helped me find my way.
Nick Matich ’13
Principal, McKool Smith
Describe your work: I represent innovative and creative clients, helping them navigate the intellectual property system to protect their technology, ideas and businesses. At McKool Smith, everyone is a trial advocate, so most of my work is intellectual property litigation of some stripe, with a heavy dose of non-litigation strategy and advising.
What activities do you enjoy outside of work? My wife, Elise, and I have four sons and one daughter, and spending time with them is usually my focus, but I like trying to learn some new skill with them. During the pandemic we did a lot of gardening, planting roses and laying new sod in our front yard. Watching the garden grow and enjoying the springtime was wonderful. Recently, I’ve spent my Sundays on woodworking or handyman projects around the house.
Are you where you expected to be at this stage of your career and life? I assumed I’d be practicing law, but the path my career has taken has been totally unexpected. After clerking, I went to Williams & Connolly, but left when a friend asked me to join a smaller appellate boutique where he worked. Through serendipity, I later ended up in the West Wing of the White House and then the Patent and Trademark Office. I had no plans to do either of those jobs, but they were both fascinating opportunities. Both were also unusual but excellent preparation for the litigation and advising I do now.
What do you like about your life 10 years after law school? Professionally, I love learning new things, in patent cases especially. I’ve gotten to learn about how semiconductor devices are made, how proteins fold (I didn’t know they did!) and how cellular networks function. Diving into the technical details is always great fun. Personally, being a husband and father is the most important thing. I love that Elise and I share the task of helping our children grow in virtue and that we have our immediate family nearby and a community in our church and children’s school to help us do that.
John Cooper ’08
Executive Director, Safe & Just Michigan
Describe your work: We have a staff of 11 (including myself), and the criminal justice reform advocacy work we do involves a broad range of tasks — e.g. research, policy development, organizing, storytelling, media and legislative advocacy — and issues from bail reform, to sentencing and parole reform, to removing barriers to success for people with criminal records. We have helped pass many important reforms since I joined SJM as policy director in April 2017, and we have a full agenda in the 2023-24 legislative session.
What activities do you enjoy outside of work? My wife and I have two small children (3-year-old son and a 6-month-old daughter), and a lot of family in town (both grandparents live within walking distance), so we have limited time for outside activities. But when I have the time, I enjoy food and wine, cards and board games, sports and fantasy sports, podcasts and spending time outdoors.
Are you where you expected to be at this stage of your career and life? I didn’t come to law school with any specific expectations. I was the first person in my family to go to law school, and I was 22 and fresh out of undergrad when I started. So I didn’t know enough to even have expectations beyond getting a job or a clerkship after graduation and hoping things worked out from there. Thankfully, they did! I was fortunate to clerk for a judge I admire and spent about seven mostly good years at a firm before I decided to move back to Michigan to pursue policy work. Expectations aside, I could not have predicted any of this, but I am grateful for how things have worked out.
What do you like about your life 15 years after law school? I feel like I am in the right place, finally settled and doing meaningful work. I also have a good work-life balance, control over my schedule and a job that is a better fit for me than practicing law. That’s not to say I don’t value my time practicing law — that experience helped bring me to where I am today. But I am glad I left when I did and came home.
Patricia Tolliver Giles ’98
U.S. District Judge, Eastern District of Virginia
Describe your work: Every day is different. I may be in motions hearings, plea hearings, trial or in chambers preparing for court. From moment to moment, I could be deciding a case involving constitutional issues, employment law, patents, contracts, criminal law or a host of other areas of law. It is an awesome responsibility, and I fully appreciate that my decisions impact many lives.
What activities do you enjoy outside of work? I would love to say that I have interesting talents and hobbies, such as penning a novel or creating some abstract masterpiece, but I don’t. I spend most of my free time enjoying my family, friends and dog. When I consider the obligations of work and everyday life, spending quality time with people who matter the most to me is what I treasure. I also enjoy exploring nature and listening to podcasts from time to time.
Are you where you expected to be at this stage of your career and life? Yes and no. I definitely envisioned a legal career in public service. I thought I would be doing that as a trial attorney. I never envisioned myself as a U.S. District judge. But thankfully I had mentors who encouraged me to think about this path. As a judge, I am still very much a public servant, so in that way I am doing what I envisioned — service. My advice to students and younger attorneys: Do not limit yourself. You don’t know what is truly possible. Each day, commit to working hard and doing your best — in matters big and small — so that you will be prepared for the opportunity when it arises.
What do you like about your life 25 years after law school? Both personally and professionally, I’m in a great place. I’m doing work that is not only intellectually stimulating but more importantly, personally gratifying — every day is an act of service. Additionally, 25 years later, I know myself in a way that I did not when I first graduated. I’m more confident and know about setting priorities and having balance in my life.
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