Farschad Farzan’01

Getting Ahead of Litigation

Law meets innovation in the fast-paced world of startups

As litigation counsel for Square, Farschad Farzan ’01 handles matters similar to those he handled when he worked for various law firms, but with one big difference — now he has the opportunity to think through possible legal concerns upfront rather than only after they’ve turned into litigation.

“We are always coming up with new products and improving our products,” Farzan said. “It’s great to be here on the front end to think through the issues. We have engineering issues upfront. We have privacy, security, business, regulatory, and international issues that I get to think through every day. These are innovative products, and it is invigorating to be a part of that.”

After 14 years at law firms, Farzan joined the mobile payments company last year, just months before the San Francisco-based startup went public. The company markets several software and hardware payments products and also has expanded into small business services, such as a finance program and payroll. Farzan advises on privacy and data security issues and works with the business to look for concerns that might lead to litigation. If something does reach the litigation phase, Farzan helps create the overall strategy, reviews and revises briefs, and oversees outside counsel.

The best part of USF to me is they train you to be a lawyer. At most law schools you’re going to analyze issues and think critically, of course. But at USF, there’s the extra step of teaching you what you actually do as a lawyer.

“It’s really doing the same strategizing I did before, but now leaving it to outside counsel to do the day-to-day work,” said Farzan, who was most recently a litigation partner at Nossaman LLP prior to joining Square.

During his time at firms, Farzan focused on areas such as antitrust, class action defense, and complex litigation. “I thrive when I’m in the courtroom,” Farzan said. In fact, leaving that part of the process to Square’s outside counsel has been one of Farzan’s toughest transitions to becoming an in-house attorney.

farschad-farzanFarzan first began considering a move in-house as a way to find more work-life balance. Square intrigued him because of the company’s way of looking forward and creating new ideas and products that benefit people and smaller companies that were previously overlooked by larger payments companies.

“Even before I came here, I’d heard stories about Square, about changing what I call the way people are able to do business,” Farzan said.

At Square, Farzan plans to continue his dedication to pro bono work — it’s a commitment to helping others that he valued before law school but was reinforced during his time at USF. Farzan also credits USF with providing hands-on training through the clinics he participated in, including the Frank C. Newman International Human Rights Clinic.

“The best part of USF to me is they train you to be a lawyer. At most law schools you’re going to analyze issues and think critically, of course. But at USF, there’s the extra step of teaching you what you actually do as a lawyer,” Farzan said. “When I started at my first firm, I felt very prepared to be a lawyer. I felt ahead of the game.”