Matt Genkin, ’09, has a knack for disproving certain rules and affirming others. The pattern began when he was in law school, where he concentrated in intellectual property law despite a lack of technical training. A brief stint working for a software company piqued the one-time business student’s interest in intellectual property law before he arrived at law school.
In November, 2016, Genkin began a new job as senior corporate counsel for SAP, the global software behemoth that serves the vast majority of Forbes Global 2000 companies and touches much of the world’s transaction revenue. The job, based in SAP’s North American corporate headquarters in Newtown Square, Pa., puts Genkin at the pinnacle of the IP world.
“Everything I heard from the professional community is that the only way to pursue an IP career is if you have a scientific background,” Genkin said. “I wouldn’t say it’s true across the board.”
Indeed, in his new role, Genkin is on a team of 70 lawyers and contract professionals responsible for drafting and negotiating all transactional documents surrounding the sale of software to manufacturers and industries in the Northeast and to retail businesses nationwide.
“SAP is such a big company that they have teams devoted to regions,” Genkin said. “We’ll draft software licensing agreements, which are heavy in IP and send them to customers.”
Genkin’s first job with Rembrandt IP Management disproved another rule: that a recent law school grad can’t get an in-house counsel job.
At Rembrandt, Genkin and his boss were the only corporate attorneys, responsible for negotiating all agreements related to the company’s business: patent acquisition, litigation funding, non-disclosure agreements and settlement agreements.
After nearly six years, Genkin decided that he wanted to get more diverse legal experience. He moved to DLA Piper, a huge law firm with a modest presence in Philadelphia. Genkin handled life science and intellectual property transactions on behalf of clients like the University of Pennsylvania, which was developing deals with biotech companies involving gene therapy programs.
The job came about because Genkin had made a favorable impression on an attorney from whom he sat across the table when he was at Rembrandt. When that attorney joined DLA Piper, he urged Genkin to apply there.
“You never know who you’re going to run into again,” Genkin said, affirming a mantra often repeated by Kline School of Law faculty and career advisors. “That was one of the bigger reasons that this opportunity worked out for me.”
The job gave Genkin the variety of experiences he sought, but the birth of his second child created a desire for a better work-life balance. He left DLA after less than two years, when seeds of opportunity he had sown in the past flowered.
Through his co-op placement at SAP, Genkin had forged relationships with attorneys with whom he stayed in contact.
“Every year or so, I would touch base with people at SAP,” Genkin said. “So this has kind of come full circle for me.”
That Genkin’s pathway brought him back to the company he impressed as a student affirms the value of the Co-op program and its powerful role in building a career strategy.
At SAP, Genkin sees opportunities to grow, with international deals on the horizon.
True, Genkin took a pay cut when he left DLA Piper. But he’s also cut his commuting costs and improved his work-life balance, since he can work from home as much as he wants.