Profiles: Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson

JD 89

Attorney, Trustee, Audit Committee Chair, Chair of Board of Trustees at Golden Gate University, Trustee, Treasurer at Teton Valley Hospital Foundation

1st in Class

"If it hadn't been for Golden Gate Law School's evening program, as well as the scholarships I received, I wouldn't have been a lawyer. I couldn't have afforded it. So I see my role on the GGU Board of Trustees as giving back and trying to do something for the university that did so much for me."

This GGU Law alumnus graduated first in his law class and passed the bar on his first try. He brings decades of experience to the Board, both as a partner in one of the Bay Area's well known law firms and as Dolby Laboratories' Executive Vice President, general counsel and corporate secretary.

His first GGU alumnus involvement was in 2004, when he became a member of the Law School Advisory Committee. Three years later he accepted an appointment to the Board of Trustees. "I feel it's an important role for alumni to play," says Anderson. "It's a useful way to have your voice heard. I also find it rewarding. I see this commitment as operating on two levels. First, the school benefits from having an active, engaged Board of Trustees, and I enjoy being part of that.

The other aspect is that the Board of Trustees is a strong group of leaders. There are people with remarkable talent who contribute a great deal of time for no pay. We do it because we love Golden Gate University. Being a part of that leadership team is special."

When he decided to go to law school, he was working as a CPA and analyst for Consolidated Capital Companies, a real estate syndication firm that he joined in 1984, Anderson was in his late twenties and building his career when he decided to go back to school, although law was not his first choice. Looking back, Anderson recalls his law school days as challenging but rewarding.

"The education I received at Golden Gate was solid and thorough. I think law school was easier for me in some ways because I had been in business. That experience gave me an advantage. It also helped me appreciate what I was learning because I could see how the class work often applied to what I had done in the business world. I felt supported here, and I had good relationships with the professors."

Law school had shown him where his interest and talents lay, and it wasn't as a CPA, he'd decided. He spent the spring of 1989 wrapping up his final law courses and clerking at the firm where he would one day become a partner (Farella, Brawn and Martel) in San Francisco. Mark and the law firm were a natural fit. For fifteen years he worked as a business transaction lawyer, and was named a partner in January 1998. Then, in January 2003, he was selected to head the business department at the firm and also earned a sabbatical that summer.

He ultimately became Dolby's first general counsel after learning of the opportunity at a dinner party. Before his arrival, Dolby was sending all its legal work to outside firms. Anderson set to work building the department in preparation for the looming IPO. By the time he left in 2011, his legal department had more than sixty staff, including a couple dozen attorneys.

Over the years, Ray Dolby and his company of engineers earned over 3,500 issued patents, two Oscars, multiple Emmys and a Grammy award. Dolby enjoyed tremendous growth during the years Anderson worked there, growing from the $200 million private company it was when he came on board to revenues in excess of $900 million his last year there.

"The difference is that when you're a lawyer in a law firm, you give advice but you don't have to live with the consequences. You can advise someone what to do, but if they don't do what you say then that is their problem. But when you're in-house and you give your own company advice, you have to live with the consequences. And that is a very different place to be, and I enjoyed it all that much more."

This new chapter in his life envelopes what he's dubbed his "interesting projects" -- advising start-ups, sitting on the boards of some private companies, doing select legal work and, of course, his leadership role with Golden Gate University.