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Top Billing: Leading Women of San Francisco

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Megan Berge, Lily Chinn and Sarah Guske help make the San Francisco office a popular destination for lawyers across practices and industries to find opportunities and support at every stage of their career.

Megan Berge

“I do what I do because of my clients and co-workers, and a fundamental belief that I get to help people,” said partner Megan Berge, who works in the firm’s San Francisco office. “I practice environmental law, and there are some misconceptions about what that means on the industry side of the house. My clients call and say, ‘Help me do this hard thing!’ I get to make a difference and on the thorniest of issues.”

Megan supports clients in all applications of environmental law, including civil litigation, rulemaking and permit appeals, regulatory advocacy and compliance counseling. She partners with companies to develop creative strategies for challenging sustainability, Clean Air Act and climate issues, including navigation of fuels and emissions-based credit regimes, and asset transitions.

Megan recently argued and won a landmark climate case before the Washington Supreme Court Ass'n of Wash. Bus. v. Dep't of Ecology, 95885-8 (Wash. Jan. 16, 2020), which is one of her proudest career achievements.  “It was both the right thing for the environment, for our client and on the law,” she said.

In Chambers USA 2020, the publication lauded Megan for being “outstanding on many fronts; her ability to anticipate upcoming issues and to explain complex matters is unparalleled.” Outside of the courtroom, Megan continues to wield her ability to communicate challenging environmental issues in layman’s terms as the host and creative director of the podcast “Environmental Evolutions”.

“I think the podcast is a great opportunity to highlight and share some of the things that I'm thinking about, or interesting discussions I’ve had with my colleagues or clients, and even academics or folks who sit in different places.”

Megan is no stranger to taking on new and exciting challenges. Another rewarding challenge in her life has been balancing both a high-powered law career and parenthood.

“A lot of folks along the way in my career have repeated the narrative, whether directly or indirectly, that one cannot stay at a large law firm and practice cutting-edge law while having three kids and still be actively engaged at home,” she said. “That is just not true!”

Megan said the people she works with at the firm make her career that much more enjoyable.

“The folks at Baker Botts manage to be the brightest, hardest working, most creative of legal scholars and remember to be human and caring in that we all put our pants on one leg at a time in the morning,” she said.

“The clients are amazing, too!” Megan added. “I am blessed with riches as far as interesting, creative, invested people on all sides of what I do, and I feel like I'm very fortunate to get to work with these people on a day-in to day-out basis.”

Lily Chinn

Lily Chinn, a partner in Baker Botts’ Environmental, Safety and Incident Response practice and California Pro Bono Chair, said she is inspired by the direct impact environmental law has on society.

“I want to keep helping companies with environmental compliance and the challenges of climate change and sustainability, which will overall make it a better place for everyone,” she said.

Lily, who works in the firm’s San Francisco office, is a strategic advocate and litigator for her corporate and individual clients, providing counsel on the intersection among workplace safety, environmental and natural resources issues. She focuses on civil and criminal enforcement defense, including internal investigations, and has tried cases across the country.

Chambers USA 2019 stated that “Lily Chinn is praised by interviewees as a ‘a top-notch talent who recognizes the issues that will be the key to the resolution of any given matter.’ She is a trial attorney notable for her handling of enforcement defense. She also manages incident response.”

Lily recently shared some of her biggest career accomplishments.

“On the criminal side, being able to resolve cases short of criminal charges being brought is a huge accomplishment, which we’ve done a number of times,” she said.

Lily is also proud of giving back to the community through her pro bono work.

“My first pro bono case was helping a woman in an abusive marriage get a Green Card under the Violence Against Women Act,” she said. “It is so meaningful to see the kind of the impact you can have on people's lives. It was really, really satisfying.”

Lily said having role models and mentors played a key role in her success as a lawyer.

“It’s important to see people like you in positions that you aspire to be in because I think that unlocks the ambition inside you,” she said.

Lily said it’s important to support other women lawyers as they make their way up the career ladder.

“Not just supporting partners, but associates, too,” Lily said. “You just never know where a good idea will come from, but more importantly, paying forward the generosity of my mentors is something that I feel strongly about.”

Lily said the best part of working at Baker Botts is the collegial atmosphere.

“For me, the best part is really working with other colleagues and working in teams,” she said. “I really love collaborating with people and being able to get a diverse team together where we can strategize and utilize everyone’s strengths that will best solve the clients’ problems. That is my favorite part of the process!”

Sarah Guske

Partner Sarah Guske said working as an adjunct law professor has helped her become a better lawyer.

“My experience has been when you teach somebody how to do something, you get a better grasp on it yourself in so many ways,” said Sarah, who taught patent law and litigation at the University of California Hastings, University of Colorado and University of Denver. “I think it is helpful to learn how to distill information to a group of students, which in turn, has given me the skills to also effectively communicate to new associates and to clients who’ve never had to deal with a patent litigation before.”

Sarah, who serves as Baker Botts’ Chair of the San Francisco Intellectual Property Group, is a trial lawyer and has significant experience litigating software and electronics patent cases in district court and at the Federal Circuit and the PTAB, including significant stand-up experience in each forum. Sarah previously served at Co-Chair of the firm's PTAB Trials Group.

Sarah has litigated cases in the district courts across the country. Her practice focuses on high-stakes, competitor litigation, and she is a frequent speaker on trial strategy issues, including defending against willfulness allegations and using IPRs strategically in district court cases.

“I like being able to provide a service to clients beyond just the litigation side of things,” Sarah said. “It’s easy on the litigation side to just think about what the best strategy is from a litigation standpoint, but most of our clients, especially on the West Coast, need something a bit more holistic on how to combine litigation goals with business goals.”

She added: “So, getting to know my clients beyond just the litigation strategy and helping them either navigate to preserve business positions or even leverage litigation for their business positions, I think is the most rewarding aspect of what I do.”

While she loves achieving big wins, Sarah said that it is the small accomplishments that “make up a rewarding career.”

“I think to keep perspective you need to not focus on big achievements,” she said. “Those are great, but they are fleeting.”

For Sarah, another achievement is getting to work in the firm’s collaborative environment.

“Anytime we have a team put together for a case and we execute on a strategy or go to trial and build that team foundation, those are the times I am really proud because everybody comes back a better lawyer and then also better friends,” she said.

“In addition to Baker Botts having the best and the brightest lawyers, the firm also has everybody on the team contributing, from the most junior to the most senior,” she added. “To me, that makes it worthwhile to come to the virtual or physical office every day.”

ABOUT BAKER BOTTS L.L.P.
Baker Botts is an international law firm whose lawyers practice throughout a network of offices around the globe. Based on our experience and knowledge of our clients' industries, we are recognized as a leading firm in the energy, technology and life sciences sectors. Since 1840, we have provided creative and effective legal solutions for our clients while demonstrating an unrelenting commitment to excellence. For more information, please visit bakerbotts.com.

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