Robin A. Walker, Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer, Chief Compliance Officer, and Corporate Secretary of Stoke Therapeutics, Inc., recently spoke with Thomson Reuters’ Practical Law The Journal (PLJ) about furthering diversity, Stoke's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the value of hiring people that are smarter than you.
PLJ: How is the legal function structured?
Walker: We are a small, diverse, and highly efficient team that supports Stoke’s mission of pioneering a new way to treat the underlying causes of severe genetic diseases. We primarily handle intellectual property (IP), corporate governance, compliance, and contract administration matters. We leverage technology to ensure our legal operations, corporate policies, data management, and training are timely and proactive, and mitigate potential risks.
As Chief Legal Officer, I focus on board governance, strategic business development transactions, compliance, and risk mitigation.
PLJ: What are the top goals or areas of focus for the law department?
Walker: We concentrate our efforts on areas that support the development of our pipeline of novel medicines, such as IP and contracting.
As a company, we aim to encourage change and increase diversity at all levels within Stoke, by removing barriers to entry and enabling success for people of color and women. The law department is no different.
PLJ: How has the COVID-19 crisis impacted the way the law department operates?
Walker: Despite the changes, our team has been able to adjust with grace and determination. We have continued supporting each other and maintained an attitude of positivity. Our team pivoted quickly and easily because we embraced technology as a tool that assists us in supporting our colleagues with their legal and business needs effectively and efficiently.
PLJ: What three things does a law firm need to do to impress you?
Walker: A law firm should:
- Have diverse teams at all levels and participate in the American Bar Association’s Resolution 113.
- Provide solid legal counsel.
- Work as a trusted partner or as an extension of our law department.
PLJ: If not an attorney, what would you wish to be?
Walker: I have always wanted to be a philanthropist. My greatest joy and sense of fulfillment comes from helping others and making an impact for the greater good, and this also drew me to the biotech industry.
You can read the full interview in the December 2020/January 2021 issue of Practical Law The Journal or online on Practical Law.
I think it would be a tremendous honor to provide both financial and strategic thought leadership to assist charitable organizations in finding new, innovative ways to support their missions and increase the number of individuals they serve each year.
PLJ: What is the best career advice you have ever received?
Walker: One of my favorite high school teachers told me to maintain friendships and be a good friend. I follow this simple advice, which has had a surprisingly large, compounding return on investment, and has served me well throughout every stage of my career.
PLJ: What advice would you give to a prospective General Counsel?
Walker: The evolving role of the General Counsel requires you to be a great business attorney, trusted advisor, and strategic thinker. Accordingly, it is important that you recognize what you do not know, take the time to listen and think strategically, and hire people who are smarter than you.
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