JAROD BUNA

SILICON VALLEY ATTORNEY AND TECH INVESTOR

Jarod appears in the 

Top 100 Attorneys Magazine

Buna, Jarod-cover photo.jpg

"Now is the time for change. Returning to normal isn’t good enough, we need to aim higher.” 

Jarod Buna

Silicon Valley Attorney, Thurgood Marshall Fellow and Tech Investor

Way back in 2004, Jarod Buna had just graduated from UCLA School of Law and landed as a fresh-faced associate at Latham & Watkins, LLP, in San Francisco. Nearly 20 years later, he has ascended to the top of the tech world. From Apple to the biggest brand in the ridesharing/gig economy, Jarod has worked with some of the best and most innovative companies in the world. While the bulk of his time is focused on navigating the legalities of IP rights and strategic transactions, community service and fighting social injustices remain at the core of his practice—and a fundamental value that has driven him for over two decades. We sat down with Jarod to learn about his take on the current state of the legal profession, his brush with basketball legends, and his determination to help change society for the betterment of all.

Which future technologies do you anticipate will be most lucrative for the legal sector?

Machine learning and AI, cybersecurity and fintech. What’s great about supporting tech clients is that they are finding ways to use new trends in the tech field to change old industries. I’ve worked with great companies that turn technology into tools that can help people realize their dreams and change the world for the better. Today, the world is in your pocket. The age of the machine is almost here. Not here yet, but it is coming. Many Silicon Valley companies are in this space, and the applications of artificial intelligence are essentially limitless. Companies are developing AI solutions for governmental bodies, financial institutions, and large corporations. We will continue to see significant investment in the AI space as we find new ways to analyze end-user data. 

What advice would you give to young attorneys looking to go into tech?

To succeed in the legal tech space, you need to bring energy, creativity, and an innovative spirit to your practice. Tech clients demand it.  Know your client’s products and services inside and out. You can’t effectively advise and counsel on strategy, compliance, or legal risk, without fully understanding how your client’s product or service works in the marketplace. Lastly, law and sales are oddly similar professions; like a great salesperson, a great attorneys needs to know how to sell. The best salespeople I know are never “selling” people on anything; instead they are teaching and educating. Great attorneys appreciate this nuance.

How does working with technology clients differ from those in traditional companies?

Startups often have a greater appetite for risk and respond quickly to market conditions. The traditional players are often less risk adverse and evaluate market behavior over longer periods of time. Startups are often founded by a small team, who are looking to quickly take their great idea to market. More mature companies may be in the public eye or focused on sustaining shareholder returns. The priorities and goals for each are often very different. As an in-house attorney, you need to understand that and counsel accordingly. Self-awareness, EQ, feeling the room, and knowing what is important to leadership is 99% of the battle. Understand that and the corner office will have your name on it.

Who do you love to work with?

I really enjoy working with early-stage startup clients and venture funds that invest in those companies. I love standing shoulder to shoulder with talented and hungry teams looking to change the world in a small or large way. No greater high than trying to make the world a better place.

I have to ask, is it true you were a ball boy for the Golden State Warriors during the Run TMC days?

Man, you did your research. Yes, I did—Mitch Richmond, Tim Hardaway, and Chris Mullen. During high school in the early nineties, I worked home games for the Warriors, met Michael Jordan, Shaquille, Barkley, Magic, all the greats. Also, met Ben and Jerry, the ice cream guys. It made for long nights but a lifetime experience that I will never forget. 

You mentioned community service and fighting social injustices are core to your practice. Tell us about this.

I have been committed to using my legal knowledge to help people since the day I received my law degree. Since graduating from UCLA and serving as a Thurgood Marshall Fellow post-law school, I’ve actively participated in pro bono services in disadvantaged communities for over two decades now. From immigration and asylum work to public housing advocacy and public defender support, community service has been and will continue to be a big part of my practice. Seeing events and protests of this summer, I know I need to do more. Now more than ever, attorneys need to give back to their communities and help solve many of the challenges facing our nation. Our country is hurting right now. We need to stand up for one another and recognize the fear and pain provoked by the needless killing of George Floyd and others. Deeply rooted discrimination still exists in America today. We see it in our criminal justice system. We see it in education and in public services.  As attorneys, we have a duty to eliminate discrimination; it has no place in America. 

What can the legal profession do to help drive change?

While our laws have slowly changed over the decades, the reality is that their protections are still not universally applied. As attorneys, we need to recognize that more needs to be done. We, the legal professionals, must all commit to creating a better and more just world for everyone. Now is the time for change. Returning to normal isn’t good enough; we need to aim higher. 

Jarod Buna

Silicon Valley Attorney, Thurgood Marshall Fellow and Tech Investor

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jarod-j-buna-8a681325/

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