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 Silicon Valley Inspiration

Google’s top legal officer has advice for 2013 SCU Law graduates

What is difficult and worthwhile “always seems impossible until it’s done,” Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond told the 340 graduating students from Santa Clara University School of Law.

The law school’s commencement took place at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 25, in the University’s Mission Gardens. Drummond, a 1985 undergraduate alumnus of Santa Clara University, is senior vice president and chief legal officer of Google, where he leads the company’s global teams for legal, communications, government relations, and corporate and new business development. He joined Google in 2002 as vice president of corporate development from a partnership position at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.

Speaking on a sunny breezy morning, Drummond drew his quote from South Africa’s famed Nelson Mandela, telling graduates that in activities from advocating against apartheid on Santa Clara University’s campus in 1981 to helping Google decide in 2010 to pull its search engine out of China over its repressive activities, “it’s always  impossible until it’s done.”

He added that change doesn’t have to come from outside agitation. “Plenty of change can, and often is, sparked from the inside,” he said.

He said of Google—which he noted is a giant company despite its casual dress, free food, and pinball machines—“because it’s a big company doesn’t mean I can’t fight to make sure that this big company sticks to its principles, that its continual march toward openness and progress and fairness mirrors the marches I participated in 30 years ago on this campus.”

Drummond served as Google’s first outside counsel, and worked with founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin to incorporate the company and secure its initial rounds of financing.

He encouraged the students to speak up if they see justice under attack. “No matter how loud the beliefs roil inside of you, if you don’t speak up, no one will hear you.”

Outgoing law school Dean Donald Polden acted as master of ceremonies, and University President Michael Engh, S.J., spoke to the graduates, urging them to “make our world better as people of conscience.”

The graduating class comprised 48 percent women and 52 percent men. Half the graduates identified as Caucasian, with 31.5 percent identifying as Asian; 10 percent Hispanic; 5.5 percent multi-ethnic, and 2 percent African-American.

Sixty-seven graduates received certificates in various areas of high-tech law; another 33 received certificates in public-interest and social-justice law; and 20 specialized in international law.

Among the awards for outstanding graduates given earlier in the graduation season, student Taylor Victoria Young received the Inez Mabie Award for the Outstanding Graduate based on academic performance, scholarly activities, leadership, and service roles at the law school and in the community. Sepideh Mousakhani received the ALI-CLE Scholarship and Leadership Award, presented to a student who exemplifies exceptional character, leadership, and professionalism. Benjamin Broadmeadow received the Dean's Outstanding Student Leadership Award for his many contributions to the law school and the greater community.

Drummond received an honorary doctorate of laws at the event. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Santa Clara University in 1985, and his J.D. from Stanford Law School.  He has been named to InsideCounsel’s Power Brokers list of the 50 most influential in-house attorneys in North America, and Ebony magazine’s Power 100.

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