In this fireside chat, Tarek Sultani, General Counsel at JLL Technologies, shares his professional journey as a mobilizing in-house counsel. From Motorola, to Google and beyond, Tarek’s path demonstrates how strong relationships cause pivots that accelerate career growth.   

How would you describe your current role?

I currently have two main hats. My primary hat is as General Counsel of JLL Technologies (JLLT). We have a number of businesses under JLLT including our real estate focused B2B SaaS business, our technology consulting business, our Spark venture funds and an in-house incubator. We also create exclusive tech products for Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) to help enable our brokers, capital markets advisors, investment managers and facility managers provide the best services to our clients. We also provide all the engineering, data and IT support for JLL.

Across these initiatives, we create products that help tenants and facilities managers better manage their office spaces and we have products that help investors better manage their assets. Using best-in-class data and analytics our clients are able to better generate efficiencies for all their real estate and workplace services. We’re also doing interesting things around sustainability, such as retrofitting older buildings and turning them into smart buildings, so that we can generate energy savings and reduce the carbon footprint. Recently we launched JLL GPT, which we believe to be the first generative AI tool purpose built for the Commercial Real Estate industry.

Our Spark venture funds invest primarily in complementary Proptech companies and we become a strategic partner to them. We resell a lot of their solutions and help our portfolio companies grow which also gives us greater investment value. This also allows us to help our clients by offering them broader solutions and curating a best-of-breed real estate technology offering for them.

We’ve also incubated a number of startups, and are having them solve problems for us. We believe that they can solve problems, not just for JLL, but for just about any large company. We are helping them scale and grow.

My second hat is being part of the Legal Executive Committee for JLL as a whole. I work closely with the other GCs and our CLO (Alan Tse) to set strategy for our 300 person Legal & Compliance department and we work to enable us to function as One Legal.

What was it like being a lawyer at Google? What were the challenges?

My Google journey actually started with my first in-house role at Motorola. I joined after Google acquired Motorola and we had a tremendous opportunity to marry one of America’s most iconic 85 year old tech companies with one of America’s most innovative tech companies. Although Google ultimately sold Motorola to Lenovo, the relationships I made in my time at Motorola were what enabled me to get the opportunity to work at Google.

After I left Lenovo, I moved to Google Fiber. It was an exciting opportunity to do regulatory and policy work with a mission to break down the digital divide and improve the internet infrastructure across America. I worked with state and local governments to get permission to build fiber networks in their cities. I wrote and published white papers and advocacy papers as well as commented on legislation and regulations. We were even successful in helping get legislation passed that facilitated the way networks could work on and update infrastructure.

Although it was a great experience, I had a chance to help grow and scale the nascent Devices & Services Product Area (the artist formerly known as Hardware) under the leadership of Rick Osterloh who had been President of Motorola. With my true passion being building consumer tech products, I couldn’t say no! This was a chance to rewrite the Google hardware story and I’m incredibly proud of the work we did bringing awesome tech products like Pixel, Google Home, Google Wifi, Nest Thermostats, Fitbits and many other products into our customers hands.

But, it wasn’t just hardware, we also covered the consumer services category. I actually consider it a career highlight to have counseled Google Stadia from stealth through commercial launch. As a long-time video game fanboy it was a dream come true and I even had the chance to meet some of my childhood idols during negotiations.

What were the biggest challenges when you first made the transition to in-house in your career?

When I first went in-house, it was pretty rough, and not just the pay cut – by far, the hardest challenge was the pace. I worked more hours now than I did at the firm, and the pace was different because the firm was more boom and bust, whereas in-house was pretty consistently busy all the time.

What I learned was that to be an effective in-house counsel, the Pareto principle applies: if you can cover 80% of the risk in 20% of the time, you can get 5X of the volume covered at the same level of risk.

I was also really lucky in that I had a great boss and mentor, Courtney Welton. She taught me everything I needed to know about commercial counseling, in-house practice, executive communication and leadership. I’m forever grateful to her for that.

How have you utilized TechGC at your current role?

TechGC has been a tremendous resource in a number of areas for us. The braintrust helped me develop a patent innovation program that is thriving. The forms library has also helped us improve our forms and tackle small one-off projects without a lot of resource drain.

Above all, TechGC is an amazing salve for the loneliness that you can feel once thrown out into the wild as a GC. I’ve really enjoyed the conferences and community dinners. It’s a place where I can get together with other GCs to share stories and get to know each other, so the fact that I have the TechGC network now has been tremendous for me.

Do you want access to the best resources and network for building your legal career and tackling the unique challenges of being a legal leader? Apply for membership at TechGC today.



Tarek Sultani is the General Counsel for JLL Technologies and a Lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School. Previously he was a Lead Counsel for Google supporting its Devices and Services division. Prior to Google, Mr. Sultani was Director – Senior Counsel at Motorola Mobility and the lead counsel for business development and commercial strategy. Before moving in-house, he was an Associate in the corporate groups at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom, LLP and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP.

Mr. Sultani has advised public and private clients in a variety of U.S. and international transactions, including supply chain, sales, distribution, mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, spin-offs, auctions, joint ventures, debt offerings, initial public offerings and other corporate matters across a variety of industries.

Mr. Sultani was named a UK Young Dealmaker of the Year in 2011 by Mergermarket and Intralinks is admitted to practice in both Illinois and New York and is a Registered In-House Counsel in California. Tarek Sultani is also a CFA charterholder, having earned his charter in 2007. He previously worked as a financial analyst for a government contractor supporting the FAA and as a mutual fund accountant for State Street Bank.

He graduated from the University of Chicago Law School in 2009 and received his Bachelor’s from Cornell University in 2003.