GC Fireside

TechGC chats with Suk Kim, General Counsel of Zapier

Suk Kim
April 7, 2022

Tell us about your background as a General Counsel and current career status...

I’m the General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Zapier, a leader in automation technology. I landed my current role because one of the recruiters at Zapier reached out to me via Linkedin and we started talking.  The more we talked, the more I wanted to know about Zapier’s founders, people, culture, business and technology.  After a series of conversations with a number of different teams at Zapier, the fit made sense from both sides.  I was fortunate that I was in a position to be able to join when the right opportunity came along.  

How does your industry help define your role as General Counsel?

Zapier’s mission is to make automation work for everyone.  In order for our customers to automate their teams’ entire workflow on Zapier, we continue to build capability and reliability of our platform, and continue to integrate with both leading and emerging apps (we currently integrate with more than 4,000 apps).  As a fast-growing company that’s constantly innovating and with a fully distributed workforce (Zapier has been 100% remote since 2012 when the company started), our legal team works closely across various teams across the organization to provide proactive legal support in key areas like data privacy, marketing, compliance, recruiting and HR.

How do you feel the General Counsel should act as a business partner?

The legal team at Zapier provides important guideposts for responsible growth of the business and the corporate culture continuing to incorporate and reflect the company's values.  Zapier’s company values are unique to our culture and some of these, such as “default to action” and “default to transparency” can be challenging for the legal team because of the type of work that we do. However, to be an effective and a valuable legal partner to the business and stakeholders across the organization, the legal team needs to incorporate these values in our work. We discuss and debate ways in which the legal team can embrace the Zapier company values, which, in addition to the two mentioned above include “grow through feedback”, “empathy, no ego”, and “don’t be a robot, build the robot”.  

How do you see the professional growth trajectory as a General Counsel?

Being a general counsel of a technology company provides constant opportunities to learn, problem solve and grow.  Often, these steps involve not only the legal team, but a cross functional team of stakeholders whose input and perspectives are invaluable to the process.  Working closely with experts in their respective fields for a common goal is a fulfilling experience for me both personally and professionally. Combine that with continuous learning in specific legal practice areas that are relevant to the business, such as data privacy, M&A, remote-working, equity incentives, I find that there’s always something interesting and challenging to engage my attention.  

What is the best advice you can give for In-House Counsel?

At the risk of sounding clichéd, my recommendation is to follow what interests you. If you want your legal career to be fulfilling and engaging for a long period of time, I think that’s the most important criteria. I didn’t plan on becoming a general counsel of a technology company. I believe my career path naturally evolved in this direction, because I was fortunate to have the opportunities in the first place, and because I pursued legal specialties, companies and interests that piqued my curiosity. My career path is somewhat unusual in that early in my career I took 2 years off from working, between two different law firm positions, to travel. I then took an additional 4 years off before joining an in-house job because I wanted to be a full-time mom for a while. In my case, pursuing my passions, both personally and professionally, has been an important part of connecting with people and teams who also do the same. While having the appropriate level of legal expertise and capabilities is the baseline, your unique experiences, interests and perspectives play an important role in determining your success in getting hired and your success in the position.

Suk Kim
Suk Kim is a legal executive with over 23 years of experience leading legal departments at three different technology companies, including currently as the General Counsel for Zapier and previously as the General Counsel for Airship. She began her legal career as an attorney in the New York offices of Cleary Gottlieb focusing on securities and M&A work, and then in the New York offices of Paul Weiss specializing in intellectual property work. Before going in-house, she managed a wide range of legal matters for start-up companies as a technology attorney in the Portland offices of Perkins Coie.