Inside Drift: Meet Zareena Javed, Senior Corporate Counsel

Hi everyone, I’m back with another introduction today – and trust me, it’s a fun one 😎

I know you’ve already met Shannon Donovan, Mary Mitchell, Catherine LaMacchia, Nadine Shaalan, Kahlil Trocmé, Britnee Laughlin, Sam Boyd, Allison Betito, Carolina Caprile, Michelle Ai, Frank Schepps, Tate Knapp, Pat Timmons, and Alexa Nguyen.

In this edition of Inside Drift, I’d like to introduce you to Zareena Javed. Zareena (aka Z) joined Drift almost three years ago and handles all things legal, which is no small feat at a hypergrowth company like Drift! She is known around the office for making legal fun and something everyone can understand, as well as coining clever catchphrases like #nocrimes. She brings an infectiously positive personality to work every day, and her dog Phoebe is a fan favorite in our #driftpets Slack channel.

Ready to meet Zareena? Let’s go ⚡

Editor’s note: The following has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Kaitlyn Martins: We’ll start with the basics. Can you tell me a little bit about what you do at Drift?

Zareena Javed: I handle all legal issues that a corporation has to deal with. That means a lot of commercial contracting, privacy compliance, protecting Drift’s intellectual property, making sure we are compliant with other laws that apply to Drift, and corporate matters like questions around interpreting our by-laws and other formation documents.

Kaitlyn: What does your day to day typically look like? Has it changed at all since we started working remotely?

Zareena: An average day for me looks like keeping up with the #legal channel on Slack (it’s where we get all of our contract requests and where our customer support and product teams come for answers to legal questions), working on redlines of commercial contracts, keeping up-to-date on changes or updates to products to make sure they are compliant with privacy laws and that we are seeking the appropriate protection for them IP-wise, and working with finance, operations and HR on policies and processes. I would say it also includes a couple of Zooms with Sarah, Associate Corporate Counsel on my team, that we call “sanity checks” where we run different ideas, language, and risk analysis by each other and discuss.

My day has definitely changed a little because of COVID. I used to pick up my laptop and go hide in different spots around the office to focus. I really enjoyed having different little worlds to inhabit and seeing and talking to people I wouldn’t otherwise cross paths with. I have to be so much more intentional now if I want to see or talk to someone.

One really nice thing about working from home is that I get to spend so much more time with Phoebe, my dog.

I try to set time aside every day to take her to the park for a game of fetch.

Kaitlyn: What is it like to do legal at a startup? What drew you to law in a startup environment over other legal paths?

Zareena: The best thing about my job is also the worst thing, which is that you never really know what any day is going to bring. That is what makes it exciting, but can also make it frustrating – because I can almost guarantee that any day I plan on having a catch-up day starts with a surprise that takes over my day.

I was drawn to startups because I enjoy the pace and variety of the work. I like being kept on my toes. I also like the less formal environment. It makes work more fun.

Kaitlyn: What does your team look like and how do you share roles and responsibilities?

Zareena: Right now there are two of us on the legal team: me, and Sarah Gatti, our Associate Corporate Counsel. Sarah handles a lot of the day to day legal requests. She’s the point-person for most of our sales team and also for all vendor agreements. Sarah owning the day-to-day gives me the freedom to do more research and writing and to work on strategic projects to set us up well for the future. That could mean writing a memo about updates to privacy laws and then sharing suggestions with leadership, looking into different states or countries to understand the implications of Drift operating there, protecting our intellectual property, making tweaks to our customer contracts based on what redlines we get or how our negotiations go, and just weighing in on any number of questions that can come up on a given day.

Kaitlyn: You’re currently looking to expand your team which is really exciting. What do you look for in a new hire?

Zareena: I think it’s really important for a legal team to be an approachable and helpful resource instead of being viewed as an obstacle to overcome. I want people to want to come to us with their issues and questions. To that end, personality is really important to me. I really like dynamic energy, where a person wants to almost attack the work. Sense of humor is also really important because it’s a stressful job that can be made less stressful if you have a little fun while doing it. Oh, and practical experience with global privacy laws. When I read a resume, I look for the letters G-D-P-R before I even look at the name or any other information.

Kaitlyn: What is your favorite Drift Leadership Principle?

Zareena: Bias for action. Just do it.

Kaitlyn: What’s a fun fact that people might not know about you?

Zareena: I spend a few hours a week volunteering at More Than Words, a local non-profit that helps at-risk youth take charge of their lives by teaching them how to run a business. It’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

Kaitlyn: Have you picked up any hobbies or discovered any hidden talents during quarantine?

Zareena: I’ve gotten really into linocut printing, where you carve a design out of a piece of linoleum and then block print it onto different surfaces with ink. It’s so relaxing to carve the block and so exciting when you make that first print and see how it turns out.

Kaitlyn: Finally, what advice do you have for prospective Drift candidates?

Zareena: Just be yourself…as long as yourself is familiar with global privacy laws! In seriousness, though, be upfront about what you know and what you can bring to the table – and also about where you might need to learn and grow. We know there isn’t a perfect candidate out there, so we’re just looking for the personality and set of skills that best complements our team.

Want to work with Z? We’re hiring. Check out our open roles here.

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