Fall 2015


May Liang, ’89: “I love the vibrancy of the Law School.”

May Liang, ’89
May Liang, ’89

As a lawyer, May Liang, ’89, was trained to think through problems in shades of gray. But she sees the value of her Michigan Law degree in black and white. “Now that I’m established in my career, I really appreciate my time at Michigan,” she says. “It was an impressive education that provided incredible opportunities, and I’m proud to give back.”

Liang serves on the Law School’s Development and Alumni Relations Committee and gives to the Law School Fund, which provides expendable resources that support students, faculty, and many campus activities. She also supports the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association at Michigan. She says that she and her husband, James Lintott, get involved with causes they care passionately about so that their philanthropy and volunteerism are personally driven. “We feel strongly that we are caretakers of what we have received, and we have a duty to be good caretakers.”

Liang grew up in Kansas as the daughter of academics. Although she had undergraduate degrees in political science and engineering from Stanford and wanted to pursue a career in intellectual property law, she left Silicon Valley to attend law school in Ann Arbor. “There were lots of liberal arts geeks in law school, but not many technology geeks, so I was kind of a two-headed goat,” she says. “I very much approached law school with the pragmatism of an engineer.”

She returned to the Bay Area after graduation and entered private practice in IP law, before ultimately landing in Washington, D.C. There, she discovered her career passion: serving as in-house counsel, first at AOL Inc. Liang loved the opportunity to practice “preventive lawyering,” which she describes as “getting your company from point A to point B without anyone wearing an orange jumpsuit.” The chance to influence company actions at early stages was appealing, and the tech startup environment was comfortable. “There was no safety net, which for some is immensely disturbing but for me was exhilarating.”

She went on to serve as executive director of The Epilepsy Therapy Project, overseeing its growth and eventual merger with the Epilepsy Foundation, on whose board she now sits. (Keeping with her commitment of personal connections to her causes, Liang’s uncle has epilepsy.) Liang then was general counsel and chief financial officer of Total Music LLC/Ruckus Network LLC, a digital music entertainment company that became a casualty of the Great Recession. She likens the experience of folding a company to eighth grade: “It was worth doing once, but not worth repeating.” When two former AOL colleagues came calling, she found her current position—cofounder, general counsel, and chief financial officer of OpenConcept Systems Inc. Leading the software development and system integration company brings Liang back to her technology roots and entrepreneurial spirit. “I’m best at a company that has fewer than 100 people because I can really make a difference in the direction of the organization. And having a 30,000-foot view of the technical issues makes my lawyering better.”

As a Law School volunteer and a donor, Liang also has enjoyed the up-close-and-personal view of today’s Michigan Law. “I love the vibrancy of the Law School,” she says. “A law school that stays static is a law school that’s going to atrophy and wither. So I like the introduction of new innovations without forgetting what made Michigan Law so well-regarded in the first place.”—AS