Sep 26, 2017
The Road Less Traveled
Sep 26, 2017
By James Sell
Most of us graduated from college, went to law school, passed the bar, and started grinding at the practice of law. But not MCBA member Francesca Chang, the daughter of a successful car salesman. She has taken a road less traveled and is doing something a little different with her legal training and perhaps a bit more interesting.
As an undergrad at UCLA, Francesca was active in the Student Coalition for Marriage Equality, the Darfur Action Committee, and other social causes. She thought becoming an attorney would better help her promote such causes so, after taking a proverbial “gap year” to explore the island of Taiwan as a travel writer, English teacher, and actress, she enrolled in the USF School of Law.
While at USF, she managed a team of 18 law school students to advertise and promote Kaplan Test Prep services, increasing its sales 31 percent. One of her biggest achievements was co-chairing, organizing, and seamlessly running the 12th Annual Bay Area Asian Pacific American Law Students Association Conference. This included her personally recruiting Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu as a keynote speaker. (And how many of you received a handwritten note from a Supreme Court Justice congratulating you when you passed the bar?)
Upon passing the bar in 2013, Francesca headed down the road most traveled and started practicing law with a solo practitioner in Oakland, representing clients in matters ranging from family law to landlord-tenant law. But it wasn’t for her. “The work was interesting, but not fulfilling. It wasn’t doing anything for me personally.”
After practicing law for less than six months, she was approached by an acquaintance and asked, “Do you want to travel the country?” Travel is her passion so she jumped at joining the business development team at Gilardi & Co., a San Rafael business specializing in providing notice to class action claimants and handling the administration of class action claims.
She spent almost two years crisscrossing the country marketing their services to class action law firms. Francesca felt she already had a leg up on most of her competition but her legal training gave her an added advantage. “I could actually ‘talk the talk’ with the attorneys and paralegals about both the substantive issues involving their claims and the procedural issues they might have had.”
In 2016, she was again approached by another acquaintance but this time asked, “Do you want to travel the world?” She did, of course, and went to work for a software company with offices in the U.S. and Europe specializing in eDiscovery, analytics, enterprise search, information management, and predictive coding. This software company was acquired in 2016, but she has remained and is now its Marketing Program Manager.
So what happened to the young aspiring social activist at UCLA? This January she became the MCBA’s Diversity Committee Co-Chair. “I wanted to give back. I wanted to contribute to my community and I felt this was something I would be good at.” She has spent the last nine months leading monthly meetings, planning continuing legal education courses and social events to address issues of bias and ethics in both the legal and social communities, volunteering at pro bono events, and creating mentorship programs for aspiring attorneys.
Now the bad news for us fellow MCBA members: Francesca and her husband are heading down yet another less traveled road and relocating to Taiwan. Francesca will continue to pursue her passion for travel as a travel writer for Taiwan's Tourism Bureau, while simultaneously giving back to the country's local causes (such as the orphanage where she previously volunteered).
You can follow Francesca's journey on Instagram at the appropriately named "Attorney turned Adventurer," @followfrancesca_ . If we're lucky, she will return soon and run for President of MCBA.
Jim Sell is a partner at Tyson & Mendes LLP in Larkspur. His practice focuses on construction disputes, products liability, personal and catastrophic injury, wrongful death and professional liability. He is a member of the Board of MCBA.