Main content start

Tim Toohey

Partner & Head of Cyber Security Practice, Greenberg Glusker LLP
Class of 1972

Thesis: William Morris’ Socialism

"A broad base in the humanities and social sciences will help prepare you for life--even when it takes you in an unpredictable direction."


Current Job:

Partner & Head of Cyber Security Practice, Greenberg Glusker LLP; specialization in intellectual property, entertainment and technology law. 

First Job after Graduation:

Oxford (3 years) (earned second B.A. in Modern History); then 5 years of graduate study at Harvard with Ph.D in Modern British History.  

1980: first job as a lecturer in Stanford History Department (teaching history survey course).

Law school 1982 - 1985: First job out of law school was as a clerk to the United States Court of Appeal for the Fourth Circuit.  Joined a law firm in 1986 and have worked in various law firms in New York and Los Angeles.

How did you end up pursuing your career? Do you have any advice for students contemplating similar career paths? What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were an undergraduate?

My original desire had been to be a history professor.  However, events took me in a different, but very exciting direction.  I couldn’t anticipate all the changes that were occurring, but my background in history helped me in the career paths that developed.  

History and the historical method have allowed me to apply critical thinking to my career as a lawyer.  As i have come to concentrate more on the legal implications of technology and privacy, the ability to analyze the context of events has been crucial.  It is key to have a broader insight into events from what has happened in the past to understand how technology and data are impacting our lives.  

My advice is take advantage of the exciting opportunities that are open to you as an undergraduate.  Explore different fields and take courses about different cultures of the world.  It was extremely important for me to take courses in Asian history, history of religion and foreign languages and literature.  A broad base in the humanities and social sciences will help prepare you for life--even when it takes you in an unpredictable direction.  Studying history is particularly important because it provides a broader context.  Try not to get too focused on a narrow career path.

Has your History training helped you along the way - and if so, how?

Studying history has allowed me to develop my skills of critical thinking.  I have applied these skills to many situations both in my professional and non-professional lives.  Particularly in our current political climate, it is crucial to examine critically what is presented as fact and to analyze the underlying causes of change in our society. 

Do you have any particularly fond memories of the History Department?

I would single out three professors, all of whom became my friends. First and foremost, was my thesis advisor and friend, Peter Stansky. He inspired in me a love of British history and of what it means to be an historian.  He had an immeasurable influence on my life in terms of my taste, as well as my understanding of history.  

The second is Paul Robinson, my undergraduate advisor (chosen more or less at random). Paul and I also became great friends. His love of opera and music, as well as his teaching of intellectual history and queer studies were and are important to me.

I also have very fond memories of Gordon Craig.  Gordon was truly one of the world’s leading historians of German history.  It was a privilege to teach with him when I returned to Stanford.  I still go back to his wonderfully entertaining and intellectual books.