Alum of the Month Feb '14
Marc Walters (’95) is one of an increasing number of Colorado Law alums around the nation who have built distinguished careers in the high technology industry. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Walters planned to attend UCLA on a football scholarship, but after a visit from Colorado Buffaloes head coach Bill McCartney, Walters changed his mind and chose the University of Colorado instead. He graduated with a degree in political science in 1991 before continuing his education at the University of Colorado Law School. His interest in law school was sparked when he took an undergraduate class in business law and decided to attend Colorado Law. Walters loved the law school experience and thrived on the intellectual discussions that he encountered both in and out of the classroom. When US West created a scholarship for law students who were former student athletes, Walters was a logical choice and he spent his 2L summer working at the company’s in-house legal department. Walters earned his JD from Colorado Law in 1995.
Walters began his legal career at US West where he was offered a one-year contract as an attorney following his successful summer at the company. He began his career performing litigation work but eventually found his professional path in commercial law. In 1997, Walters worked as lead counsel for Qwest Communications, where he supported the company’s wholesale communications business. In the early 2000’s, the telecom industry faced significant growth challenges, and Walters admittedly was chasing gold in the form of stock options during this period before the market crashed at the turn of the decade. It was during that time that Walters changed his career focus and became involved in the high technology industry working at StorageTek. From Walters’ perspective, it was also during this time when he decided pay more attention to developing his skills and career as a commercial lawyer.
He started off supporting the company’s sales group doing licensing, but his role soon grew to encompass all of its U.S. transactions and sales. His role would expand even further to include global strategic transactions work starting in 2005, following StorageTek’s acquisition by Sun Microsystems. During his time with Sun Microsystems, Walters’ duties included a 4-month assignment as general counsel for Sun India and as counsel for the company’s strategic transactions group. In 2010, Sun Microsystems was acquired by Oracle, and the scope of Walters’ work narrowed to focus on distribution of Oracle’s products and services into the public sector for the middle region of the country. Walters didn’t have a long-term interest in that type of work, and in 2010 he went to work for Microsoft, where he is currently assistant general counsel.
In his current position, Walters leads the legal team for Microsoft’s worldwide services organization, which oversees all of the company’s support and consulting services in both consumer and enterprise sectors. His legal team of six provides general business advice, legal counsel, and programmatic transactional support for a group of more than 20,000 employees that generates more than $4.5 billion in annual revenue. In addition to his professional roles, Walters remains very involved in the Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) initiative, which provides pro bono legal services for the protection of unaccompanied children who enter the U.S. immigration system often seeking asylum from volatile environments in other countries, and is active in Microsoft’s corporate diversity and inclusion efforts. Walters is a strong believer in mentoring, and maintains a number of ongoing mentor/mentee relationships with young professionals in his personal and professional networks.
I loved the in-class and out-of-class discussions of contentious topics. Hearing different perspectives from different people and having your thoughts and ideas challenged is a very invigorating and sometimes scary thing.
Learning and intellectual growth is difficult. I wish I would not have shied away from some of those opportunities in law school. I would have been better off meeting some of those challenges. In other words, I should have studied more.
Don’t be afraid to take risks early in your career. From a practical perspective, potentially risky opportunities that don’t pan out are more easily absorbed early on in your career rather than later. It’s one of the best times to strike out and pursue something that you feel strongly about. “Passion” is a bit cliché but at some level you at least need to care about what you’re doing, or take pride in your performance.
There have just been so many people, both inside and outside of my profession, who have helped out, planted seeds, and reached back to help me grow along the way. I’ve been lucky to have many mentors (formal and informal) so it’s really impossible for me to single out one person. They have been invaluable and the single biggest contributor to anything I’ve achieved.
Seizing those opportunities along the way to do what so many of the people in my life have done for me: mentoring and helping others grow.