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The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.

Brady Berg, Partner—Corporate

Brady Berg is a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where he focuses on corporate and securities law, including venture capital transactions, public offerings, and mergers and acquisitions with an emphasis on technology startups.

Prior to rejoining Wilson Sonsini, where he had served as an associate from 1999-2008, Brady was general counsel and corporate secretary between 2015 and 2019 at Cylance, a next-generation, AI-based cybersecurity software company. Brady helped the company raise in excess of $250 million in multiple rounds of venture capital, private equity, and debt financing; he also helped lead an IPO process and contributed to the negotiation and closing of the company’s $1.5 billion sale to BlackBerry. During his time at Cylance, he built and led a legal department which was responsible for all legal matters involving the company and its 10 global subsidiaries.

Brady was a partner and co-chair of the Venture Capital and Emerging Companies practice at Mintz Levin from 2008-2015.

Brady received his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and his B.A., cum laude with departmental honors, in Communication Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

I’m a corporate lawyer in our firm’s Emerging Companies practice. I primarily represent startups and venture capital investors with a focus on clean tech and renewable energy technologies.

What types of clients do you represent?

I work with the full spectrum of emerging company clients, from entrepreneurs to early-stage startups to late-stage private companies as they prepare for an exit, such as an IPO, a merger with a SPAC, an M&A event, or other transaction. I also represent investors in this space—primarily venture capital, seed stage, and private equity investors.

What types of deals and/or cases do you work on?

We don’t work on “cases” as corporate lawyers—rather, we represent clients as they start up and throughout their life cycles. I am fortunate to work with some of the most innovative clean tech companies in the world here at Wilson Sonsini. For instance, I represent ZeroAvia, which makes the world’s first hydrogen-electric airplane engine, which is enabling zero emission air travel at scale. I also work with Lunar Energy, a new joint venture in the home electrification space, with the potential to transform residential use of clean electric energy, and HydroPoint Data Systems, a water resource management technology company that is helping the world save billions of gallons of water each year. I also represent investors in clean technologies, like Activate Venture Partners, Emerald Technology Ventures, Congruent Ventures, and SJF Ventures.

How did you choose this practice area?

This is my second time with the firm. I started with the firm in the early 2000s and was here for about 10 years. I was fortunate during my first tenure with the firm to work with the first group of lawyers at the firm who were focused on clean tech. I was drawn to the practice because of my passion for working on what I thought was one of the world’s most critical problems—climate change—and this practice gave me a way to marry working with entrepreneurs and innovators who were developing innovative technologies with helping to solve this very important problem. It was that early work with some of the founders of our Clean Tech practice here at the firm that brought me back to Wilson Sonsini. I left for a period of time and became general counsel of a client of mine named Cylance that developed a cutting-edge cybersecurity solution based on machine learning. I represented Cylance through its sale in 2019 to BlackBerry for $1.5 billion. I then took a little time off and came back to Wilson Sonsini specifically to focus on clean tech and renewable technologies.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

My days are really varied, which is part of what I love. I might start the day talking to a founder team about a new company that they’re thinking about starting, getting them incorporated, and planning for their initial seed financing. I might then get a call from an investor that’s thinking of putting together a term sheet for investing in a company and talk them through their term sheet. I may also attend a board meeting for one of my clients and end the day with a call with a later-stage company that is getting ready for a SPAC or IPO transaction or possibly exploring acquiring a smaller company or selling to a larger company in an M&A transaction.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

For law students choosing law school classes, I would recommend Contracts; Tax (it is important to have a basic working knowledge of tax); Negotiations (if your law school offers it); and, of course, Corporations. I’d also look at clinics or classes offered in entrepreneurship or joint J.D./M.B.A. programs. We’re also seeing associates and prospective summer associates coming in with impressive experience, including candidates who have been entrepreneurs themselves; who have worked with venture capital firms; or who have experience working with relevant government agencies, such as the Department of Energy or the Environmental Protection Agency.

What do you like best about your practice area?

For me, I enjoy that this practice is mission driven. It’s one of the few practices in BigLaw where you not only can feel passionate about working with entrepreneurs and enabling them to fulfill their dreams, but also see really exciting technologies develop that are making a difference and helping the world combat climate change. I also appreciate the people who are part of our practice here at Wilson Sonsini and in the broader community, whether it is the investors or entrepreneurs. People in this space are like minded and mission driven. We’re all collectively trying to solve the same problem. I think embedded in all of that is you feel like you’re making a difference.

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?

I think there are unique opportunities where our Clean Tech and Renewable Energy practice and our Emerging Companies Practice converge for young lawyers to work with earlier-stage companies and really take a leading role and develop relationships with clients early in their careers. In an emerging company practice where efficiency is critical and teams are thinly staffed, young lawyers have an opportunity to take leadership, give advice, and grow with clients. The nice thing about practicing here at Wilson Sonsini where we represent the full spectrum of clients—from small early-stage companies to larger later-stage companies—is that you have an opportunity to work with a variety of clients at different stages. So young lawyers also get to learn from more-senior lawyers in a different role working with larger clients and learn as part of a team. The types of tasks you might perform would be anything from helping to form the company, attending board meetings and drafting minutes, helping the company implement their equity compensation program, and taking a role in negotiating financing and M&A transactions.

How do you see this practice area evolving in the future?

I only see it growing and becoming more robust and mainstream. When I first started in this practice in the early 2000s, it was more niche. There was a select group of investors who were dedicated to this space. It was a smaller group of people who were really focused on the problem. Now, there is a noticeable broadening of awareness and recognition of the urgency of the climate issues we’re facing. We’re now seeing mainstream investors and companies like BlackRock and Amazon making bold commitments to help solve climate change. And we’re seeing the emergence of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) programs within mainstream companies where climate initiatives are on the forefront. All of this bodes well for companies and investors in this space, and it makes me optimistic that collectively we can make a difference.

What are some typical career paths for lawyers in this practice area?

Obviously, having a long and prosperous career within the law firm itself is one exciting path. I think it’s also a natural path for junior lawyers to think about becoming a general counsel like I did at Cylance. You really do serve as the virtual general counsel to startup companies here before they have an in-house legal team. You get the call for everything from employment to IP matters to tax and sometimes even litigation as companies are starting to grow. You’re the lawyer that is in the boardroom and engaging with the executive team as they are navigating their legal issues. Our firm is particularly well networked in this industry and in Silicon Valley and other technology centers, so it’s a great launching pad for someone who wants to work in clean tech and represent exciting companies who are helping to combat climate change.