Day 4 of Career Month features Hewlett-Packard business lawyer

Kira Sterling and

Gina Signorello, Palo Alto resident and senior legal executive, shares her experience working as a business lawyer with Palo Alto High School students. In 2016, Signorello was honored as one of Silicon Valley Business Journal’s Top 100 Women of Influence. Photo: Kira Sterling

Business Lawyer Gina Signorello took to the Performing Arts Center lobby during lunch on Friday to offer words of encouragement to Palo Alto High School students thinking of pursuing law in the future.

As part of Paly’s annual Career Month, the Chief Legal Council of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise shared her own experience handling disappointment and her personal journey through the business law world.  

According to Signorello, she experienced disappointment firsthand when rejected from Harvard, the school of her dreams. To the packed room, Signorello recounted the advice of her high school calculus teacher after the rejection — “Don’t go forward … with a chip on your shoulder,” Signorello said. “You have to embrace what you have and make the most of it.”

Signorello majored in political science and attended law school at Boston College. It was not the Harvard of her dreams, she said, but nonetheless she went on to lead a successful career as a business attorney at Hewlett-Packard, later becoming senior vice president and deputy general counsel.

Practicing law is not easy, Signorello said, and it is plagued by distasteful misconceptions surrounding lawyers’ work. Attorneys often have to set aside their personal beliefs to serve a client, and outsiders may consider a lawyer greedy or immoral for getting paid to defend a controversial stance.

Although Signorello said there may be one or two people that fit that negative stereotype, she added that, generally, lawyers are much more helpful than they are made out to be.

“I think lawyers are great people,” Signorello said. “We’re trained to help, and to help other people achieve what they want.” 

Career Month presentations will continue today during lunch with Peter Drekmeier, policy director of Tuolumne River Project and former Palo Alto mayor, in the Media Arts Center, and Wellness Outreach Worker Angelina Michael in the PAC lobby.