After nearly 20 years of working as general counsel for such business giants as LinkedIn and Yahoo!, Michael Callahan ‘95 decided to follow a new passion: training and mentoring the next generation of corporate lawyers.
In May 2018 Callahan left his role as senior vice president and general counsel at LinkedIn, and joined the faculty of Stanford Law School, where he is the executive director of the Rock Center for Corporate Governance and a professor of the practice of law.
Callahan, who has always had an interest in teaching, said he was particularly interested in the offer from Stanford because it combined academia and policy work.
“In this job I get to teach students as well as collaborate with outside organizations and firms to advance the study of corporate governance,” Callahan said. “I get to engage with students and ideas, but I also get to actually work on implementing things.”
Callahan also pointed to personal reasons for accepting the job. His wife works at Stanford Medical School and his children attend school “down the road” from the Stanford campus.
The Rock Center holds monthly meetings for corporate lawyers and board members that focus on issues they regularly face. Recently, Callahan said, the center held an event to discuss a new California law requiring a certain number of female directors on corporate boards, and its implications for boardrooms and corporate law in general.
“These events are really moments to engage with that community and learn,” Callahan said. “It’s a chance to really delve into things and make meaningful changes.”
Callahan said he acquired his passion for practical involvement while attending UConn School of Law, where he was mentored by Professor Richard Pomp.
“Professor Pomp was always doing outside advisory work and served on boards outside of teaching,” Callahan said. “He gave me an awesome example of the potential marriage between practical policy work and teaching.”
During his time at LinkedIn, Callahan oversaw the legal, public policy and governance aspects of the more than $26 billion sale of the company to Microsoft. Pomp said that even while Callahan was in law school, those around him knew he was destined for big things.
“He was one of those students where it felt like all you had to do was get out of his way; he was going places fast,” Pomp said. “He’s a brilliant, thoughtful, deep-thinking person. He really was an absolute superstar from the moment he got to UConn.”
Now that Callahan has shifted out of the corporate world, he serves as an adviser or board member for several companies, something he said he always wanted to do.
“I’m very happy with where I am and what I’m doing right now,” he said.