Berkeley Magazine, Summer 1999


In his final year at Berkeley, law student Larry Sonsini drove his old VW Bug from Berkeley to Palo Alto for a job interview. It was 1966, and he was looking for a spot in a new law firm representing obscure start-up companies.

His dream of being on the much-ballyhooed ground floor of an industry turned into reality when he got the job -- one that would rocket the 1966 Boalt Hall graduate into a career shaping what has become the Silicon Valley.

Today, 33 years after he joined the firm, Sonsini is chairman of Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati. His legal team of more than 500 lawyers annually produces more stock offerings than any other local firm. A third of Silicon Valley's public companies are his clients.

Sonsini ties the story of Silicon Valley's success to Berkeley as well as to Stanford. He considers the two schools "the most important technological institutions in the country." Cal, he said, has provided the brain power and transfer of technology vital to start numerous companies, including Sun Microsystems.

One of the campus's strongest supporters, Sonsini is a volunteer fund- raiser, a donor and a teacher at Boalt Hall. For more than 10 years, he has returned to Berkeley to share with a new generation of aspiring lawyers the practical lessons he learned representing such technology standard-bearers as Sun Microsystems, Apple Computer, Inc. and Netscape.

"It's a wonderful way to give something back to the university," he said. "I can bring to the educational process the practical side of issues, a different perspective to education that is good."

To learn about other distinguished alumni, select from the following links:

by Jose Rodriguez



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