Stanford's GC makes the grade

Debra Zumwalt discusses her job as the university's top lawyer

In 1979, on her first day as a law firm litigator, Debra Zumwalt got some unexpected feedback from the head of her litigation group. “He told me that he didn’t think ladies—he said ‘ladies’—had what it took to be litigators,” she remembers.

But Zumwalt, who had aspired to a career in law since watching “Perry Mason” as a child, wasn’t so easily deterred. She eventually became a litigation partner at the firm and a member of its governing board.

Q: What is it like working at a university, as opposed to a corporation?

A: There are some similarities. We’re the largest private employer in Santa Clara County [Calif.], so those kinds of employment issues are similar to big corporations, although we also have tenured faculty members.

Alanna Byrne

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