Robert Hawn '84, Class of 1984
Robert Hawn ’84 was advising technology and start-up companies in the Silicon Valley before the social media industry existed. A leader in his field, Bob chaired the Business Law Section of the State Bar of California and served on the State Bar’s Mentoring Task Force. He has also published and presented widely.
Until retiring recently, Bob represented companies in the wireless, internet, software, social media, and medical device industries, focusing on working with emerging technology companies throughout their life cycle. He also advised multinational companies entering U.S. markets. In 2014, he cofounded Strategy Law, LLP with two longtime colleagues.
What are you proudest of professionally and personally?
My proudest professional accomplishment was as the Chair of the Business Law Section of the State Bar of California during 2014-15. The Business Law Section is an 8,000-plus member organization devoted to business law education and technical refinement of existing law. Reflecting the breadth of the California economy, it covered areas ranging from agribusiness to cyberspace. It was exciting to be working with some of the premier business lawyers in California, many of whom were pioneers in developing new areas of law or in transactions that reshaped our world.
My greatest personal accomplishment was sharing the success of my wife and daughter in their careers in public service. Close behind was performing as a jazz and blues keyboard player in various clubs and festivals in the San Jose area.
What is your favorite King Hall memory?
Cardozarama! It was so great to see the huge talent that the King Hall community possessed. I even wrote a skit involving my friends and faculty about the experience of a second-year student during a call-back.
Did any professors or classes have a significant impact on your career?
Professor Hillman’s classes on corporations and business planning convinced me to be a transactional lawyer. When I visited him after giving a talk on campus, he gave me an autographed copy of his latest textbook, which I consulted on a number of occasions to help resolve client issues. I was also influenced by Professors Jean Love and Alan Brownstein when I worked for each of them as a Research Assistant after my first year.
Did you participate in student organizations?
In addition to performing at Cardozarama, I was the Treasurer of the Law Students Association during my second year. I was also on Law Review my third year and published a comment on international debt renegotiation.
How have you stayed involved with King Hall?
I have stayed close with many of my classmates and have often referred matters to them, and shared more than one glass of wine with them. I also participated in an on-campus panel on technology transactions where I mistook the Assistant Dean for a third year law student! I have also made myself available for informational interviews with King Hall law students.
Do you have any advice for current law students?
Get to know your fellow students as well as you can because they will help you, and you will help them, through law school and your respective careers. Also, get to know your favorite professors as they are often very interesting and can help you advance. Last, and most important, have a passion outside of law to keep yourself as well-rounded and centered as possible.
What else should readers know about you?
I faced my biggest challenge in October 2018 when I was diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, an incurable degeneration of the body’s motor neurons. King Hall taught me the values of research, resilience, and relationships, which are invaluable in living with ALS. Research enables me to learn about the disease and motivates me to participate in drug trials and other studies. Resilience allows me to face the constant day-to-day challenges of this disease. Relationships, the most critical component, provide the assistance and comfort of an expansive care community of professionals, family, and friends, many of whom come from the King Hall community.