Alumni @ RopesTalk: Dialog with Beibei Solar, Sanofi

Alumni @ RopesTalk: Conversation with Beibei Sun, Sanofi

Time to Hear: 27:42

Within the newest installment of Ropes & Grey’s Alumni @ RopesTalk podcast, strategic transactions associate Abby Gregor interviews Beibei Solar, senior company counsel of worldwide licensing and enterprise improvement at Sanofi. Beibei was an affiliate within the life sciences group at Ropes & Grey earlier than becoming a member of Sanofi in 2021. At Sanofi, she helps the specialty care enterprise unit on licensing transactions and the ventures workforce on enterprise capital transactions. On this interview, Beibei talks in regards to the variations between being a deal lawyer at a giant agency versus in-house. In fascinated about her profession, she shares the three items of recommendation she would give to newer legal professionals. Beibei additionally displays on her time at Ropes & Grey—what she gained from the agency, what she misses most, and the way she’s been in a position to proceed doing professional bono work in collaboration with the agency as an alumni.


Abby GregorAbby Gregor: Thanks very a lot for becoming a member of us as we speak for the newest installment of the Ropes & Grey alumni podcast. I’m Abby Gregor, a associate in our strategic transactions group, and I’m thrilled to be joined by Beibei Solar, a good friend and former colleague additionally from the strategic transactions group. Beibei, thanks very a lot for agreeing to return in and converse to us about your path post-Ropes. I do know we had been very sorry to see you go, however we perceive that you just had an incredible alternative prepared for you at Sanofi. I hoped to begin our dialog as we speak by speaking about your function at Sanofi and in addition the way you got here throughout the chance.

Beibei SunBeibei Solar: Thanks for having me as we speak, Abby. It’s nice to make my manner again to the Prudential Heart. The chance at Sanofi got here to me after I was a fifth-year affiliate. At the moment, I used to be an affiliate in Ropes & Grey’s Boston workplace within the life sciences observe group (now a part of the strategic transactions group). I used to be engaged on transactions like licensing, mergers and acquisitions, and enterprise capital, however primarily for all times sciences shoppers. The chance at Sanofi got here to me by means of a good friend of mine who was a part of Sanofi’s international transactions workforce. I used to be actually intrigued after talking to her in regards to the scope and degree of the delicate transactional work that Sanofi’s workforce was doing in-house, so I made a decision to use and interview. In the course of the interview, I used to be in a position to converse to extra members of the workforce and in addition enterprise stakeholders that I might be interacting and collaborating with. I used to be actually blown away, as a result of that is the workforce at Sanofi that helps BD and licensing transactions for the specialty care enterprise unit—which is compared to vaccines, normal medicines, and shopper merchandise—and consists of very thrilling therapeutic areas equivalent to oncology, immunology and irritation, uncommon ailments, neurology, and platform applied sciences. Principally, this workforce helps very high-stake licensing transactions, and becoming a member of this workforce would permit me to sit down on the spearhead of the innovation that’s taking place at Sanofi. After getting the provide from Sanofi, the prospect to proceed to do cutting-edge licensing work and lead my very own transactions at one of many high pharmaceutical firms and in addition amongst a fantastic group of enterprise and authorized professionals—and getting some extra free time for myself and my household—was very thrilling, and that’s why I made a decision to make the soar.  In January 2021, I joined Sanofi, and now I’m a part of the worldwide BD and licensing authorized workforce. Along with supporting licensing transactions for specialty care, as I discussed, I additionally help enterprise capital transactions by the Sanofi Ventures workforce.

Abby Gregor: Having labored along with your workforce a pair instances, it’s a really fascinating, cutting-edge area, and you might be doing the in-depth, advanced transactions that I do know you actually loved once you had been at Ropes, in order that’s unbelievable. What was probably the most difficult a part of the transition for you, and what do you discover probably the most rewarding about being in-house now?

Beibei Solar: In relation to the challenges, first, as a result of I joined in January 2021—that’s when most individuals had been nonetheless working remotely—most of my onboarding course of was distant. I really didn’t see my workforce in particular person till June 2021, 5 months into the job. I bear in mind on my final day, which was a Friday that January, I despatched again my Ropes & Grey pc within the mail, after which, I logged into my Sanofi pc the next Monday from the identical actual house workplace. That being mentioned, I feel the pandemic additionally made of us extra accustomed to video conferencing—due to that, I used to be in a position to meet many colleagues and stakeholders at Sanofi from Paris, the remainder of Europe and different jurisdictions over Zoom. It was really useful in build up good work relations with colleagues in different places of work. An actual problem was to navigate a corporation the dimensions of Sanofi. Once I joined Sanofi, it was very exhausting to not really feel like a drop of water falling into the ocean. Ropes & Grey is a giant worldwide agency, nonetheless, after I joined Sanofi, that they had round 100,000 workers in over 90 totally different international locations, and its authorized division had as many legal professionals as a mid-sized legislation agency, so to essentially discover my place within the group turned a problem. I used to be in a position to first anchor with my very own workforce as a result of my supervisor, their supervisor, and the remainder of the workforce was extremely supportive in serving to me get settled in and get the help and steerage I wanted to do my transactions, but in addition lining up inner assets that I wanted. I used to be additionally in a position to anchor with my deal groups—for each transaction I work on inside Sanofi, we might have a giant workforce consisting of members and stakeholders from totally different capabilities, so I used to be in a position to actually construct up an excellent allyship with them.

Abby Gregor: Every deal was iterative with studying the totally different workforce members from the varied capabilities.

Beibei Solar: Sure, precisely. I bear in mind a bit of recommendation I acquired from a senior enterprise chief after I first joined Sanofi was to “suppose globally and work regionally”—that means, at all times take note the large image of Sanofi’s mission and its strategic priorities, however on the similar time, concentrate on doing the most effective work you possibly can on the concrete tasks in your plate, in order that was very useful in getting me began. As to probably the most rewarding half, there have been so many facets of the job that I discovered very rewarding, however I feel the largest one is to be a part of a workforce with the identical mission, after which, additionally be capable of see the impression of your work. At Ropes, I might have the prospect to work on very thrilling transactions, however when a transaction was accomplished, our shopper workforce would transfer together with the alliance or collaboration that we negotiated, whereas at Sanofi, I grow to be a part of the group that should stay underneath the settlement that I negotiate. At first, that may be nerve-racking as a result of the errors you make within the contracts can actually come again and hang-out you, but in addition, I feel that offers you the prospect to really see the impression of your work. For every workforce and every deal, I’m a part of the architect workforce placing up the deal construction. On the similar time, we try to herald probably the most cutting-edge and promising know-how or property from exterior in order that we are able to develop these into life-saving or life-changing therapeutics and vaccines, in order that is known as a nice feeling.

Abby Gregor: It sounds such as you’ve undoubtedly hit the bottom working. What’s a typical day within the life like at Sanofi, and what do you take pleasure in about working towards within the life sciences licensing area?

Beibei Solar: As you already know, licensing was actually a part of my job at Ropes that I loved doing probably the most, so it’s actually nice to have the ability to proceed doing that at Sanofi. My typical day within the life at Sanofi is similar as a typical day within the lifetime of a deal lawyer. As talked about, I work on licensing and enterprise capital transactions, so plenty of my time could be spent on reviewing, drafting, and negotiating time period sheets and agreements, or conducting authorized diligence on my transactions. I feel the distinction is that at Ropes, although we had shopper calls and conferences, most of my time was spent with paperwork, whereas right here at Sanofi, the vast majority of my time is spent on assembly and collaborating with individuals, both strategizing internally with my workforce and getting alignment with stakeholders from totally different capabilities, or it may be assembly and negotiating with the counterparties. Day by day there may be many judgment calls to make, so I really feel like I’m continuously altering sporting my authorized hat and my enterprise hat, and I take pleasure in each roles lots. To borrow the phrases of my boss, “We’re all enterprise professionals, simply with a legislation diploma.” So, that facet of the work I actually take pleasure in.

As to the precise day-to-day at Sanofi, proper now, we’re within the hybrid working mode, so two days of the week I’m on the Cambridge Crossing campus—which you visited, Abby—and for these days, I’ll actually attempt to prioritize in-person conferences. For the opposite days, I will likely be working remotely, so I’ll nonetheless have conferences, however I can even attempt to concentrate on what I name “deep work periods” the place I may be extra targeted in doing drafting and reviewing.

Abby Gregor: Do you want that cut up? Now that you just’re doing extra of the BD facet versus drafting, do you take pleasure in that? Do you miss being extra within the weeds on drafts? I do know you continue to are plenty of the time, however utilizing exterior counsel, I might think about, lightens the drafting load for you.

Beibei Solar: I really actually benefit from the present steadiness of my work as a result of I nonetheless get an opportunity to do the drafting, however with the help of outdoor counsel, I feel that permits me to have extra time to remain at a excessive degree and suppose extra on the strategic views of the transactions, and to be the bridge between the enterprise at Sanofi and the authorized views which our exterior counsel helps with. It was plenty of studying, as properly, together with how we do accounting and the way we really calculate royalties. We even have scientists on the deal from our exterior innovation workforce who’re very affected person in explaining the applied sciences to me, together with how antibody drug conjugate works. I’ve been studying tremendously from our IP workforce, as properly.

Abby Gregor: Sure, so sporting plenty of totally different hats. That’s thrilling although—I can see that being actually fascinating versus having a targeted lens once you’re on the legislation agency by way of a lot of the authorized objects. From my perspective as exterior counsel, we’re not essentially at all times introduced in on the interior scientific discussions and understanding the know-how—we now have to do this on our personal. Being within the combine internally with the precise scientists I might think about is actually enlightening as you’re attempting to place these phrases right into a draft contract.

Beibei Solar: Once I was on the legislation agency, I don’t suppose I appreciated how a lot work and thought was put into structuring a deal. Earlier than we have interaction exterior counsel, there was very prolonged discussions occurring in relation to evaluating the chance and fascinated about the deal construction. We additionally have to be particularly conscious of all of the ache factors and operational views from totally different perform groups, so there’s plenty of shifting issues round and strategizing. Throughout that course of, along with the training, I feel additionally it is extremely rewarding to have the ability to construct up a relationship of belief with our enterprise stakeholders and with totally different perform groups, so you might be actually in it collectively.

Abby Gregor: Switching over to recommendation and what you would possibly be capable of present for younger associates developing, given what you’ve discovered after your transition, what do you suppose you’ll inform youthful associates primarily based in your expertise to this point and hindsight, and what they need to be specializing in whereas at a agency?

Beibei Solar: I might say three issues. Initially, I feel it’s essential to at all times do good work—that’s so central to our development as a lawyer. Once I first joined Ropes, one nice piece of recommendation I acquired was, “The one factor you could fear about is how you can grow to be a greater lawyer daily, and all the pieces else will simply occur organically.” I feel that gives actually useful steerage, as a result of I do know what I have to concentrate on, and doing the most effective work is the way in which you develop. It’s additionally the most effective branding and networking for your self as a result of if you end up doing nice work, your work speaks for itself.

The second level is, “by no means be too busy to study and replicate.” As everyone knows, the large legislation job could be very demanding, and if you happen to’re not conscious of the way in which you’re employed, it could possibly grow to be all consuming in some unspecified time in the future. So, have a transparent roadmap, be strategic with the kind of offers you wish to do, the kind of experience you wish to construct up, and proactively search out these alternatives. As well as, sustain with data administration. Ever since I used to be a first-year, one observe of mine that I actually profit from is I take plenty of notes on my transactions. I overview and replicate on my notes very frequently.  I feel if you happen to don’t try this, it’s like consuming with out digesting—generally we spend an excessive amount of time working and never sufficient time reflecting on how you can work extra effectively and successfully.

The third factor is that it’s by no means too early to begin constructing your skilled community, as a result of the most effective alternatives down the highway will come from individuals who really know you and know your work. Attempt to work extra with the individuals who you share their values and who admire your kinds, and earlier than you already know it, you’ll have constructed up a bunch {of professional} allies round you.

Abby Gregor: That’s one piece of recommendation that I utterly align with you on. I feel what you don’t admire, whilst a junior affiliate, is that your friends are going to be your future shoppers. These are individuals you’ll give you, they’ll go in-house, and by the point you’re a mid to senior affiliate or a associate, these would be the inner stakeholders and the decision-makers. Folks shift into BD roles right here now, so I really feel prefer it’s crucial to foster these relationships as early as you possibly can. That’s nice recommendation.

What about for associates who’re contemplating a transfer in-house—what recommendation do you’ve gotten for them as they determine whether or not to make that profession transition?

Beibei Solar: I transitioned in-house comparatively lately, and what I’ve seen is that the in-house expertise may be vastly totally different primarily based on totally different industries, totally different phases of firms, and even totally different geographic places. When you’re contemplating shifting in-house, do your due diligence and discuss to individuals who know the corporate or who’ve labored on the firm, and to see whether or not that’s the kind of substance of labor or work setting that you’d take pleasure in. One other factor I might say is, don’t transfer for a suboptimal alternative. As you proceed your time at Ropes, getting skilled and serving an excellent shopper base, your expertise will solely grow to be extra invaluable the longer you keep.

Abby Gregor: Sure, and there are additionally so many networks right here. I feel the agency could be very supportive when and if an affiliate decides that they wish to go in-house, using these networks and ensuring, as you mentioned, that it’s the most effective alternative it may be—that you just’re not simply shifting to one thing with out doing all of your diligence.

Beibei Solar: That additionally jogs my memory, I feel associates ought to have open conversations with the mentors they belief internally in the event that they really feel like they want changes to sure facets of their work. I feel it’s essential to make this job additionally give you the results you want as a way to develop and study extra sustainably right here at Ropes.

Abby Gregor: Transitioning to that subsequent level, who had been your mentors at Ropes, and people specifically who influenced your profession to this point?

Beibei Solar: I really feel very blessed as a result of I actually had many great mentors throughout my time at Ropes, and a few of them proceed to be my mentors as we speak, together with you, Abby. Lately, we labored on transactions collectively—it’s simply so particular to have the ability to work alongside certainly one of my mentors again on the agency who I already labored with and know so properly. I feel we collaborate very properly throughout negotiations as a result of we perceive one another immediately.

Abby Gregor: Completely, and I might say I’m the fortunate one—I had actually hoped to proceed to have the ability to work with you. You had been undoubtedly certainly one of my favourite associates that I loved working with once you had been right here, and to have the ability to proceed that relationship is actually particular.

Beibei Solar: Thanks a lot, Abby. If I’ve to call mentors, I feel two specifically that basically confirmed me what sort of lawyer I wished to be throughout my early days at Ropes had been Steve Wilcox and Ed Black. Steve was the founding father of the life sciences observe group—he was assigned to be my coordinating associate after I was a summer season affiliate—and Ed was the chair of our IP transactions group. I labored on a variety of transactions with each of them after I was a first- and second-year—I used to be simply blown away by the breadth of their data and the depth of their expertise. Every convention name with them could be a masterclass in the way you negotiate and the way you’re employed as a lawyer, and in addition the extent of integrity and professionalism they observe was actually one thing that was core to our work. After that, I continued to study from many different great companions each within the life sciences and IP transaction teams and past throughout the Boston, West Coast and Shanghai places of work, on each billable and professional bono work. I feel I actually benefited from studying from totally different kinds, however I wished to say Steve and Ed, as a result of the expertise working with them was so formative within the lawyer that I’m as we speak.

Abby Gregor: Sure, I don’t suppose you might have requested for higher mentors at an early stage in your profession. I utterly agree—Steve, particularly from my perspective being extra on the life sciences facet early on, served in that very same function for me.

Beibei Solar: Additionally, I echo the purpose you made earlier in regards to the worth of relationships along with your friends as a result of I feel a few of my greatest mentors again at Ropes had been my friends, both my classmates or associates from shut class years. We might actually have open conversations about questions we had both in relation to substance or how we labored. As we proceed to develop and transfer alongside in our careers, they actually grow to be very robust allies and we are able to function nice assets for one another.

Abby Gregor: I utterly agree—the alumni community is so robust. Having individuals you possibly can ask for precedent or how they strategy a problem that they encounter when drafting is like your individual little data base, so I completely agree with that.

What do you miss most about Ropes & Grey typically?

Beibei Solar: I actually miss the pleasant faces of our colleagues and with the ability to stroll down the hallway and have an informal chat with our great authorized govt assistants—I feel that work setting is actually energizing.

Abby Gregor: All of them miss you very a lot, as properly.

Beibei Solar: That’s so candy to listen to. Additionally, I do know everybody who left Ropes actually misses Doc Processing, Person Assist and the great paralegals—generally it’s simple to take it as a right if you end up working with such nice assets daily. Once you really transfer to a different group the place legal professionals or authorized are now not the middle of the universe, you actually really feel the distinction. I additionally miss the professional bono program. Ropes has an exquisite professional bono program internally, and never simply the alternatives or issues you possibly can work on, but in addition the good inner assets and experience you possibly can profit from as you’re employed on these issues. A superb factor is that the opposite day, I joined a Mission Citizenship workshop.

Abby Gregor: I used to be going to say, I believed you guys had been collaborating with Ropes on that.

Beibei Solar: Sure, I attended that workshop—I used to be in a position to see some colleagues and alumni, which was nice. Now at Sanofi, myself and some different colleagues are engaged on our personal workshop with Mission Citizenship, in order that extra colleagues from our authorized and ethics & enterprise integrity departments also can take part. For me, that’s an effective way to remain inside the Ropes group by means of doing professional bono issues.

Abby Gregor: I completely love the collaborations with shoppers—I feel that’s actually essential. To your level, professional bono is one thing we must always all be doing and it’s one thing we needs to be dedicated to. If we’re in a position to additionally work with shoppers whereas serving professional bono wants, I feel that’s the most effective of all worlds.

How do you are feeling Ropes ready you in your present place?

Beibei Solar: To start, the actual fact that I used to be skilled at Ropes really gave me extra credibility after I began at Sanofi, as a result of Ropes has a stellar repute within the life sciences authorized area. However stepping into extra element, I feel the four-and-a-half years I spent at Ropes was really formative. That’s true in relation to authorized substance, as a result of I actually discovered from the most effective transactional legal professionals within the life sciences market. I proceed to learn from the entire basic abilities of drafting, negotiating, speaking and significant considering, which I constructed up at Ropes, each day. That can also be true in relation to the way in which by which you’re employed, as a result of I feel a number of years at Ropes will likely be ample to coach you right into a extremely functioning skilled who’s in a position to ship nice high quality recommendation and work product, even throughout very tight timelines and underneath stress. I feel that degree of effectiveness is sort of a profession superpower.

Abby Gregor: Completely, and you probably did it higher than most. I recall fairly a number of instances the place you had been so desperate to work with totally different companions throughout totally different geographies that you’d be turning U.S. drafts by day after which working with Shanghai colleagues at night time. It was extremely spectacular to see how a lot you had been in a position to slot in throughout your time right here.

Beibei Solar: All these enjoyable instances. I feel it may be lots once you work with totally different groups throughout time zones, however I additionally actually benefited from studying and the mentorship on each side. All of that being mentioned, I feel extra importantly is how Ropes ready me—being the place the place I began my authorized profession, Ropes outlined what sort of lawyer {and professional} I’m as we speak. I feel as legal professionals, our upbringing at Ropes is all about dedication to our shoppers and our groups. The extent of excellence in our work and recommendation, and the respect for even probably the most troublesome counterparty on the opposite facet, we at all times attempt to perform with the best degree of integrity and professionalism. I feel all of that simply turns into a part of you.

Abby Gregor: You embody that. Having now seen you in motion on negotiations, I’m so extremely impressed, however I additionally admire how you retain your cool in conditions. I feel we’d like to take credit score for that, however that’s only a talent set that you just your self have developed, and it aligns with who you might be as an individual and as a lawyer. It’s been so rewarding for me to have the ability to see you in that function in-house.

We’re going to change to some lightning spherical questions. What FLIK café merchandise do you miss probably the most?

Beibei Solar: I actually miss the good cookies. I feel after we had been having trainings as associates again at Ropes, there have been at all times very good cookies and little desserts on the sidebar.

Abby Gregor: Sure, they’re nonetheless there—we are able to go get some after. Now that you may take break day with some predictability, I hope, what’s your favourite trip vacation spot?

Beibei Solar: Sure, my holidays now have extra certainty and predictability. My husband and I’ve actually wished to make our manner again to Hawaii. Now we have been to the 4 larger islands and we loved every of them, so actually hoping to return. We additionally wish to return to Paris once more, as a result of we actually benefit from the meals, the artwork, and the structure. Possibly as a result of I’m working at a French firm proper now, I’m obsessive about all the pieces French.

Abby Gregor: I used to be going to say, you’re on the proper firm to make that occur. Lastly, end this sentence: Ropes & Grey is…

Beibei Solar: Ropes & Grey is a brilliant lawyer coaching camp. I feel it’s actually inspiring to see the impactful work our alumni have been doing with their time post-Ropes.

Abby Gregor: Thanks—it was wonderful having you right here as we speak. I at all times love seeing you in particular person, working with you and attending to spend time with you. This has been actually particular listening to you replicate in your time right here and in addition very thrilling to listen to about what you’re doing at Sanofi. Thanks very a lot for coming in.

Beibei Solar: Thanks a lot for having me, Abby. It’s my pleasure, and it has been enjoyable.

Abby Gregor: For the alumni which are on the market, please go to our alumni web site, which is to remain up to date on alumni and to get the newest information in regards to the agency. If you happen to’re excited by switching jobs, there’s a bit of part on that. If you wish to come again to Ropes, tell us. Thanks for listening, and we sit up for the following one.

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