Buzzworthy: Lystra Batchoo '07
Meet Lystra Batchoo '07, Assistant General Counsel at Buzzfeed
Lystra Batchoo ’07, Assistant General Counsel at the digital media company BuzzFeed, has her hands in all aspects of the company’s operations. Her typical day might involve engaging in contract negotiations with an ad agency; deciphering the intent of FTC rules; advising on copyright infringement; and providing general legal support to the company’s sales, technology, research, and business operations and strategy teams. Dull it’s not—and she loves it.
“BuzzFeed is a company that likes to take risks,” Batchoo says, “which could drive some attorneys crazy. But for me, it makes my work interesting.”
Batchoo was not initially drawn to a law or media career. After graduating from Columbia University, where she studied history and liberal arts, she worked for the Robin Hood Foundation and then for NPower NY, a technology service provider for nonprofits and a job training program for low-income New York City residents. The public service work inspired her to pursue law, and she was attracted to Brooklyn Law School because of its strong focus on public interest and its commitment to practical training.
“I wanted to be able to hit the ground running after graduating,” she says, noting that she did a clinic or an externship every semester after her first year. Her experience during law school included work at the Children’s Law Center and the Manhattan D.A.’s office. She also had two judicial clerkship externships—with U.S. District Court Judges Deborah Batts and Shira Scheindlin in the Southern District of New York.
Batchoo’s professors at the Law School further inspired and helped to shape her career path. She was impressed with the passion and intellectual stature of the faculty.
“Teachers like [the late professor] Michael Madow, who had such a passion for teaching, really brought the law to life for me and opened my eyes to many different opportunities,” she recalls.
After graduation, Batchoo joined Kelley Drye & Warren, starting out in the litigation group and then shifting her focus to advertising law. She built her career at the firm for more than eight years while she also was building her family with her husband, Joel Daniels.
As it became more challenging to juggle family and work at a New York City law firm, Bathcoo also realized she wanted to focus on advertising law rather than general litigation. “It was a re-conception of my career and the type of lawyer I wanted to be,” she says.
In 2015, Batchoo became a staff attorney at the National Advertising Division, a self-regulatory body for the advertising industry, which settles and arbitrates cases between competitors and handles consumer complaints. A year later, in 2016, she was hired away to become senior counsel at BuzzFeed. It’s a position that has given her enormous professional and personal satisfaction.
“The BuzzFeed legal team is led by a general counsel who understands the pressures on working parents, especially mothers,” Batchoo explains. “She has two children as well and respects our time outside the office. That sets the tone for everyone else. I can work remotely, and actually enjoy vacations without interruptions from the office. The flexibility I enjoy now has been a wonderful surprise.”
The fast-paced work also has been rewarding.
“Moving to BuzzFeed has been a thrilling transition,” Batchoo says. “We’re tackling, debating, and discussing cutting-edge legal issues all the time. It’s the kind of job that pushes me to come up with creative solutions, because people don’t want to hear ‘no.’ And that has made me a better lawyer.”
— Andrea Strong ’94