Nowadays, many companies realize the merits of weaving a lawyer into the infrastructure of the business early on. In addition to offering perspective with compliance as a guiding principle, in-house lawyers can stop a problem before it begins as they help ensure new ventures are completed thoroughly and carefully. While these companies benefit from having a legal voice on their internal teams, Guardant Health stands a step ahead by including a lawyer on its own founding team.
Michael Wiley, chief legal officer and founding member of Guardant Health, says that being one of the first three people at the company allowed him a unique chance to build and influence Guardant’s culture and instill good decision-making habits from day one.
“I had the rare opportunity to have my fingertips on the company since the beginning,” Wiley says. Not only did his influence allow the company to set a sound foundation to grow upon, but he also used his past professional experiences to set the framework for best practices when approaching management and financial matters—and that original opportunity has paid dividends for Guardant for over eight years.
Prior to founding Guardant, Wiley attended Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business. Starting as a tax accountant at KPMG, he put his financial prowess to the test as he eventually moved on to be vice president of finance at Microchip Biotechnologies Inc. and CFO of Voyage Medical. Still interested in finance but wanting to dig deeper into the legal side of a business, Wiley eventually returned to his alma mater to receive his JD at J. Reuben Clark Law School.
“I had the rare opportunity to have my fingertips on the company since the beginning.”
Early in his law career, Wiley worked as a corporate attorney at Venture Law Group and served as in-house associate counsel for software and services company Novell, where he focused on matters dealing with intellectual property and employment. With a wealth of knowledge in not only finance and law but also in the healthcare industry, the opportunity to help develop Guardant was one he couldn’t resist.
Now, as chief legal officer, Wiley uses these skills to propel Guardant’s mission of “conquering cancer.” As a “leading precision oncology company,” Guardant uses a range of data from blood tests to analytics to help provide personalized, informed treatment options before a patient’s diagnosis is too far along.
“We believe the key to conquering cancer is unprecedented access to its molecular information throughout all stages of the disease,” Guardant’s website says. “We are developing a solution through tests that require only a blood sample.”
With a catalyst as simple as a blood sample, the company’s goal is to use this DNA to advance clinical trials and data sets and take the guesswork out of cancer research. And with more than five thousand oncologists in over thirty-eight countries on board with Guardant’s mission, the company is one step closer to finding better cancer treatment solutions.
The secret? Finding methods that cater to individual needs and conditions—a philosophy evidenced by Guardant360, a comprehensive genomic testing process that profiles a patient’s tumor and suggests the best route of care. From Wiley’s standpoint, these treatment methods, though incredible, offer him his own checklist to complete.
With each new treatment developed, Wiley must ensure that all aspects of the process meet compliance and regulatory standards, have long-lasting intellectual property protection, and are constantly upkept and reviewed with each new advancement.
As Guardant works to advance its early detection and precision treatment methods, Wiley and his small team strive to make their mark on medical technology in ways we never thought possible. “We’ve discovered something great and we’re trying to share it with the world,” says Michael Peltier, Guardant’s software production engineer.
And with every new piece shared to the world, with every new treatment option available, Wiley and his fellow founding members’ fingertips have certainly set their standards for healing.
Serving life sciences companies for more than twenty-five years, Latham & Watkins combines a highly developed grasp of regulatory regimes and market issues around the world with the global resources needed to provide a one-stop shop for clients in this rapidly evolving, highly regulated industry.
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP:
“Michael epitomizes what you want in a general counsel. Excellent judgment, calm, and considerate. His experience in the life sciences field shines as he helps lead Guardant Health to great things.”
–Edward Reines, Partner