Rebecca Stuart J.D. ’07 has joined Sidley Austin LLP as a partner. She sat down and recounted her journey with Santa Clara Law. 

Rebecca Stuart J.D. ’07

“My mom tells the story about me being asked as a first grader what I wanted to do for a living, and I said at the time, ‘I just want to talk for a living,’” said Stuart. “And so now she jokes, of course, that I got my job.”

Stuart grew up doing speech and debate, and always felt comfortable presenting to groups of people, so law school felt like a natural fit. After graduating from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Management, and Operations, she enrolled at Santa Clara Law and earned her Juris Doctor in 2007 with a High Tech Law Certificate. During her time in law school, Stuart was actively involved with the Santa Clara Law Review, Honors Moot Court, and the Women and Law Association. 

“All of the experience editing notes and editing articles for the Law Review and helping… get those together for publication really became a very necessary element for all the editing I would do of my own work later in life,” reflected Stuart.

Stuart spent her 2L summer with McManis Faulkner, then known as McManis Faulkner & Morgan. At the time, McManis Faulkner was a small civil litigation firm. 

“It made it a little bit trickier for me to break in to Big Law, because usually you do that through your 2L summer, and I didn’t have that 2L summer big law experience,” said Stuart. “On the other hand, it [McManis Faulkner] really gave me a feel for civil litigation that I otherwise wouldn’t have had.”

After her summer experience with McManis Faulkner, Stuart went through Santa Clara Law’s On-Campus Interview program again and was hired by Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. 

After rising to a mid-level associate position, Stuart noticed an opportunity for the employment team to be more involved in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity at the firm. Over the next many years, she worked with the M&A team to involve the employment team in deals, especially in transactions and early-stage IPOs. Stuart’s work led to employment M&A activity becoming a significant portion of the employment team’s workflow.

 “At that time, you didn’t see employment lawyers as having chief roles in a lot of M&A activity or financing activity,” said Stuart. “I think it’s really important because, especially in the Silicon Valley, one of the most important assets that companies have are their employees; it becomes very essential to the deal whether this particular group of engineers or these particular executives are going to stay with the surviving entity. Employment lawyers are more involved in M&A now, but there is still room for substantial growth in this area.”

Over the years, Stuart rose from a junior associate to partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati all while balancing an active family life.

“When I made partner, I had a one-year-old and a three-year-old; that was, to me, a massive accomplishment that I was able to make the push and make partner… and it was also the first year of the pandemic so everything was hectic,” said Stuart. 

Stuart went on to have an accomplished career advising on more than 800 transactions ranging in value from $20 million to $19 billion across 16 years of legal experience, according to Sidley Austin LLP. 

“The first multibillion-dollar deal that I remember being a part of was when Google bought Nest…” continued Stuart. “It was happening over the winter holidays and there were a lot of phone calls and meetings and things that had to happen right between Christmas and New Year’s… It was the first time my family, who I was around because it was the holidays, saw first-hand that this job doesn’t really have an off switch.”

For Stuart, the Nest deal was a turning point where she found herself able to showcase the importance of her work to her family, and grew an awareness of the impact of her work.

Outside of the legal field, Stuart sits on the board of FUSE Corps, which places experienced professionals with governmental agencies. Stuart is also an avid supporter of women’s organizations. She routinely speaks at and supports organizations who support women and girls. 

“I have two young girls myself, and I see how confident they are, and I think back to my own experiences as a young kid… I think that they should have every right and confidence that they can succeed, just like the boys do,” said Stuart.

Stuart now joins Sidley Austin LLP as a partner and is eager to continue to serve her clients.

“Sidley is well regarded as a world-class firm. The services that this firm provides to its clients are beyond reproach and in every different segment and area of business,” said Stuart. “I really just feel humbled and grateful to be part of this group of very smart, capable and well-trusted professionals.”

Her advice for those following in her footsteps?

“I’d say three things: One, just because you’ve always done something a certain way does not mean that’s the best way to do it. The goal should be to never stop learning… Two, try hard to be the best at what you do… And three, to the extent possible, make yourself valuable to your colleagues and clients,” advised Stuart.