In late 2017, Patrick Barry '94 was living the dream. For two years he was enjoying his part-time work of coaching tech startups while spending time with family and pursuing hobbies, including surfing and painting. Then, as he puts it, Barry “fell in love.”
The object of his affection was one of his consulting clients, a high-profile legal tech startup called Logikcull, and enticed Barry to give up his sabbatical to become its chief operating officer in January. The San Francisco-based firm, which closed a $25 million Series B funding round the same month, offers a cloud-based platform that makes electronic discovery easier and more affordable for law firms, corporations, and governments.
“We're making the tools of justice available to everybody, which motivates me and is something I truly believe in,” Barry says.
His new role is the latest of nearly two decades of fascinating gigs as a tech executive, a non-traditional path for a trained lawyer. Though Barry hasn't worked as an attorney since 1999, he says his law degree has played a critical role in his success.
“Lawyers are extremely analytical, and their ability to break down any problem—whether in staffing, a product-market fit, or the best way to serve customers—prepares them to get to the truth of the matter and discard things that aren't relevant,” he says.
Barry didn't plan on going to law school. After graduating from Columbia with a philosophy degree in 1990, he spent a few years working in museums and galleries. He enrolled in UC Hastings because he needed to support his growing family and had done well on the LSAT. Barry ended up graduating near the top of his class, despite having two kids while in law school. Surrounded by the buzz of Silicon Valley in his hometown of Palo Alto, Barry decided in his first year that he wanted to pursue tech law. After obtaining his Juris Doctor, he spent five years working for startup law firm Venture Law Group, where his first assignment was representing a rising startup named Yahoo! in its initial financing round.
In 1999, Barry left the law to join a startup named Carstation.com as vice president of corporate development. “It was the first Internet boom, a really entrepreneurial and exciting time. I was right on the front lines, and it was difficult not to feel excited about that,” he says.
After a period as an investor, Barry spent five years at Yahoo as vice president of product management, overseeing the company's digital home business. He then joined software company Demandforce as chief marketing officer, shepherding its growth to $100 million in annual revenue and its sale to Intuit for more than $400 million in 2012. He stayed at Intuit for nearly three years as a vice president managing the Demandforce team. In 2014, he left to advise startups such as ProsperWorks, Guidebook, Automile and, of course, Logikcull.
Barry's latest firm is certainly on the lookout to hire people with a legal background. But Barry advises current law students who want to work in legal tech, or for tech firms generally, to follow in his footsteps by first getting work experience in the field. “Having managed hundreds of people, there's often a gap between the completion of an educational segment and entering the workforce. It doesn't have to be for a long time, but you need to follow through on your education by going to a firm, city government or corporation to see how what you just learned applies in the real world.”
Barry still lives in Palo Alto with his wife and dog (his three children have all moved out). And though he may not be on sabbatical anymore, he still finds time to surf.