Brett Johnson built relationships with numerous practicing attorneys during his time at Colorado Law. He made the most out of the mentorship, classes, and resources available to him in law school. Through those opportunities, he developed skills that he continues to use in his career.
Tell us a little about your work. What do you do, and what might a “typical” work day look like?
I am an associate corporate counsel for an enterprise level software company called VMware. VMware is the fourth-largest software company in the world, and about 70 percent (or roughly five billion dollars) in revenue is generated through indirect sales (or what the cool kids in the industry like to call “the channel”). Along with a team of attorneys in Colorado, I help manage VMware’s relationships with its partners, resellers, distributors, original equipment manufacturers, and others. This includes negotiating custom agreements with specific, high-value, or difficult partners, and developing click-through type agreements and fallback negotiation positions for the vast majority of VMware’s relationships with its other partners. In addition, I also perform commercial due diligence on potential acquisition or investment targets.
How did you find your job?
Every “big boy” job I have had since graduating law school can be traced back to Bill Mooz, a former professor at Colorado Law. For whatever reason, he took an interest in me and my success and introduced me to five or six attorneys. Those attorneys then introduced me to several of their attorney friends. By the end of my third year at Colorado Law, I had met with over 40 different attorneys in the Denver and Boulder legal markets.
I was hired into this position because I knew Paul Shoning (‘09) and Jared Crain (‘04), both of whom I met because of Bill Mooz. Both had done work for VMware as outside counsel on a few occasions.
How did Colorado Law help you in your job search?
The Career Development Office, the professors, and alumni of the school all have an interest in seeing Colorado Law graduates succeed. This culture of people really caring for one another helped me.
What skills do you utilize on a daily basis, and how did your experiences or courses at Colorado Law help you develop these skills?
Attention to detail. Tom Codevilla (’13) explains this better than I can in his Promising Starts profile, so I won’t even bother.
Substantively, Bill Mooz’s class taught me how technology licensing agreements generally look and feel, how negotiations take place, how leverage between parties affects eventual outcomes, and what is usually standard in the technology industry for various provisions in those licensing agreements.
Please talk a little about “people skills” and relationship-building. How have your professional acquaintances (and friends) made a difference in your career?
As I said, I was hired into this current position, and my former position, because of my network, or to not sound so cold and calculated, because of the practicing attorneys that I knew that thought highly enough of me to recommend me and eventually hire me.
Obviously, it is important for attorneys to be capable at the practice of law—at the oftentimes day-to-day drudgery of reading, writing, and thinking critically. But, honestly, I think it is more important for you as a person to be kind, generous, and thoughtful. These attributes will, in the long run, help you find a job and help you develop a reputation as someone who is a joy to work with.
What advice would you give to current students with respect to finding a job?
Aside from grades (grades, unfortunately, are table stakes), meet people and then when you have the opportunity to work for them, do good, quality work.
If you were to recommend Colorado Law to a potential law student, what would you say?
Colorado Law is a place where professors and staff care about your success as a student and later as a professional. People like Bill Mooz, Fred Bloom, Erik Gerding, Amy Bauer, and Scott Moss impacted my life, not only because they taught me interesting things about different areas of law, but because they also took a genuine interest in my life and my success. In fact, I even now try to keep in contact with them and have had the occasional lunch with them.
Why did you choose Colorado Law?
I chose Colorado Law because my wife and I grew up in Colorado, our family is here, and we had no intention or desire to leave. Colorado Law is the best law school in the region, so it was an easy decision for us.