Diversity Spotlight Series: Min Yu, Principal Counsel at Apple

One of the American Bar Association’s core values is a commitment to diversity, which the Law Practice Division aims to reinforce in the legal tech sector. From tech founders and CEOs to small business owners, diverse legal professionals are making a big impact on law and technology in every field. In keeping with the spirit of progress, the Legal Technology Resource Center (LTRC) is proud to present its “Diversity Spotlight Series.” Our goal is to celebrate, promote and encourage BIPOC, LGBTQ and those with disabilities in the legal tech space.

Min Yu, Principal Counsel at Apple

How would you describe your job and what do you love most about it?

I am a product attorney for Apple, covering products like iPhone, iPad and Macs.  I love the cutting edge technology and the never questioned quest for excellence.  I love being able to wake up every morning to dynamic, complex and interesting questions and issues — and then, jumping into a meeting with the smartest and the best in the industry to figure out how we can best address these challenges.  The way diverse stakeholders collaborate and challenge each other to ultimately drive ourselves to a decision is exciting and satisfying.

What drew you to and how did you arrive at your current role?

As with many things in life, I didn’t expect to land a job in tech law.  Keeping an open mind and not being afraid to take on unfamiliar opportunities helped me arrive at my current role.  I started my legal career as a corporate attorney at a large New York law firm.  After many sleepless M&A deals, I was ready to join a company that created consumer products that I respect where I can support day-to-day business decisions rather than serve as an external advisor on one-off deals or legal issues.  A recruiter contacted me about a job opening at Apple’s Tokyo office and I jumped at the opportunity.  Few years later, I was able to do an internal transfer to our Products & Services legal group in Cupertino.  Soon after I joined, I realized that this role was what really made me tick.  I’ve always loved working with creative things that I could touch.  After attending my first meeting on how best to launch a new feature, I was hooked.

How has mentorship played a part in your personal and professional growth? 

Mentorship has played a critical role in my personal and professional growth.  I often joke about how much “people” luck I have.  I have been blessed with people who invested the time and effort to help me grow.  Sometimes, mentorship will come in the form of casual conversations or just bouncing off ideas with someone you respect.  Even today, I am blessed to have a manager who genuinely cares about how I can best develop myself to take my next step in my career.

What has been the most valuable piece of advice given to you, and the least useful?

The most valuable piece of advice given to me is to never be afraid to pick up and dive into something unfamiliar or new.  Sometimes your career may lead you to places you didn’t expect to.  However, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised at how much you enjoy the opportunity.  Even if you ultimately do not like that role, trying something new means you’ve gained a skill set or perspective that can help you land another role that you may like.

The least helpful advice was from a friend who once told me that I should never accept a new role if it doesn’t compensate me better than my current role.  I never thought that was good advice.  I’ve seen people lose opportunities or the possibility of growth by focusing too much on money or title.

Is there something that you do in your personal life and community (outside of the office and work) that you think contributes in some way to your professional success?

Being a mom has really broadened my perspective on people.   I think much more about my colleagues’ family obligations and priorities and how that may impact their work and lives.  My quest to always figure out what my children like and excel in has also taught me to really look at people — to see what makes them tick or what their strengths may be — which, helps me communicate and interact with people more effectively.

How do you think employers, organizations, and communities can increase diversity and support diverse professionals, especially in the technology sector? 

Companies should focus on both diversity and inclusion.  The best work environment is where everyone feels comfortable sharing their best self without fear of being judged.  In addition, I think it’s important for employers to not only hire from a diverse pool but also invest in diverse professionals to take on leadership roles by encouraging them to take on opportunities that help them gain more visibility and representation.

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