Emily Schlesinger – Microsoft Health & Life Sciences

Assistant general counsel transforms from litigator to product lawyer

Unlike many of her peers, Emily Schlesinger hasn’t always wanted to be a lawyer. In fact, after spending years as a commercial litigator, she realized that defending big companies in court wasn’t her cup of tea. 

But then Schlesinger began working with tech clients, delving into litigation around early internet regulation—including cases focused on Google’s placement of tracking cookies that circumvented privacy settings, as well as allegations that the company gathered Wi-Fi data from millions though its “Street View” program. 

Emily Schlesinger – Microsoft Health & Life Sciences

Emily Schlesinger | Assistant General Counsel, Cloud + AI | Microsoft Health & Life Sciences

“At the time, privacy and data protection was an emerging area, but it wasn’t something that was a primary practice, like it is today,” Schlesinger recalls. “I began to develop an interest in how challenging that space was and understanding the importance of data issues in the context of these large companies.”  

Now, as assistant general counsel for Microsoft Health & Life Sciences, part of Cloud + AI engineering, Schlesinger leads the team within the legal department that supports Microsoft’s emerging healthcare products and services. Those include Azure Health Bot (which helps developers in healthcare organizations build and deploy chatbots), Text Analytics for Health (which extracts and labels medical information from doctor’s notes, discharge summaries, clinical documents and electronic health records) and Azure Health Data Services (a suite of technologies that process protected health data in the cloud).  

Her responsibilities range from advising engineers on product development to negotiating contracts to coaching executives on IP and deal strategy. 

It’s all the result of a mid-career transformation that saw Schlesinger join Microsoft after three years as a litigation associate at the Seattle office of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati PC. Arriving at the company in 2014, she started out as a privacy attorney on the regulatory affairs team. Then, she became a product lawyer. 

“I wanted to pivot from being a subject matter expert to being in the room with the clients who are actually developing the products,” she says.   

Jumping into healthcare  

In March of 2022, Microsoft closed its acquisition of artificial intelligence company Nuance Communications for $16 billion (or $19.6 billion including debt), expanding its reach into healthcare, where it had previously had only a modest presence. Nuance is best known for its speech recognition technology, including software used to help launch an early version of Siri, Apple’s voice-activated assistant.  

Its flagship service is Nuance’s Dragon Medical One, which physicians can use in place of jotting down notes. To use it, they speak into a hands-free device and see their words converted to text on-screen—easy for them and whoever’s reading the notes. That service, along with others, is now under Microsoft’s umbrella. 

Schlesinger has been helping to sew up the Nuance integration on several fronts, which has included aligning different approaches to product development and compliance. 

“I’m leading the group of lawyers and project managers from PwC defining workstreams of Microsoft and Nuance lawyers,” Schlesinger says. “It’s a combination of organizational governance as well as running the team that’s doing the day-to-day integration work.” 

Layering on new policies 

As the company moves more squarely into the healthcare space, another recent project of Schlesinger’s is right-sizing Microsoft’s policies to comport with those of Nuance.  

Having long been a cloud provider for healthcare entities, Microsoft already had privacy and security standards. But offering healthcare products that process protected health information brings a bevy of legal and regulatory requirements—for example, employee training, access controls and significant documentation rules. 

Emily Schlesinger – Microsoft Health & Life Sciences

“We’re essentially adding another layer of health-specific policies and requirements on top of our existing robust requirements to ensure that we can better service our healthcare customers,” she says. 

By now, Schlesinger says she’s positioned to steer Microsoft into new privacy and security terrain. She’s spent the latter half of her career building up expertise in the data and privacy issues surrounding technological advances like the ones Microsoft is currently wading into. 

Finding her niche  

A graduate of Brown University and Vanderbilt University Law School, Schlesinger launched her legal career clerking for a federal judge in the Southern District of Ohio. From there, in 2006, she went to the Chicago office of DLA Piper, working as a litigation associate on complex commercial litigation. 

After another brief clerking stint, this time on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, Schlesinger joined the Ohio attorney general’s office as a deputy solicitor in 2009, tackling both civil and criminal litigation on behalf of the state in the Ohio Supreme Court, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. 

She spent nearly two years there before moving to Seattle to join Wilson Sonsini’s litigation group in 2011. It was at this law firm that she found her professional niche. 

Emily Schlesinger – Microsoft Health & Life Sciences

“When I was at Wilson Sonsini, that’s really where my interest in privacy and data protection grew,” Schlesinger says. “We were working with some large tech clients at the time, and I was dealing with litigation in the context of early Internet regulation.” 

It was a major jump from commercial litigation to tech, Schlesinger says, owing mainly to the difference in approaches. She was supporting engineers and compliance professionals rather than spending time counseling in-house lawyers, and she had to simplify her communication. But determined to forge a new path, she underwent a professional rebranding, and found her way into the realm in which she operates today. 

Beyond her career, Schlesinger enjoys spending time with her husband, 5-year-old son and their dog; getting outside to enjoy the Pacific Northwest; and preparing for the arrival of her second son, who is due in March. And she’s a proud advocate for her employer, which she believes always puts customers first. 

“Microsoft really has for the longest time considered customer trust to be paramount in the products and services that we offer,” Schlesinger says. “And there’s no difference between that principle whether you’re talking about our general cloud computing technology or our healthcare services.”  

View this feature in the Vanguard Winter III 2023 Edition here.


Published on: January 20, 2023



Showcase your feature on your website with a custom “As Featured in Vanguard” badge that links directly to your article!

Copy and paste this script into your page coding (ideally right before the closing tag) where you want to display our review banner.


The piece highlighting my company, Bob Baker Enterprises, Inc., came out fabulous. Our company is in the new and used car sales and service industry. Everyone was great to work with and extremely professional. They produced a high-quality product and have provided expert assistance and guidance post-production of the article.
– Wade Poulson, General Counsel, Bob Baker Enterprises Inc.
It was a great honor to be featured in Vanguard Law. Working with every member of the team, from the initial interview with Erin Clark, through production with Victor Martins, writing the article with Taryn Plumb and creating the final content with Dave Gushee, was a true pleasure. Everyone was very professional, enthusiastic and supportive, and their creative approach and positive attitude clearly came through in the final product.
– Kevin C. Rakowski, Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, Compliance with Radian Group Inc.
I was honored to be the subject of an article. I enjoy reading Vanguard articles and seeing how other attorneys got to their positions and see their jobs. It's also interesting to see how different law firms partner with the subjects of the articles.
– Henry Marquard, in-house counsel, Stanley Consultants Inc.
As promised in advance, my feature in Vanguard has increased my visibility within the profession and prompted more than a few people I have not communicated with recently to reconnect. One of the Italian law firms I have used in the past is now in the process of interviewing me for an article on their website and tweeting out the feature story. Activity and the number of people connecting with me on LinkedIn has soared, which is great. The Vanguard writers and editorial staff were great to work with—highly professional and made the effort to make the experience both fun and rewarding (they were also respectful of the time pressures and demands all lawyers face). I was very pleased with the experience and the final outcome. Needless to say, I have been very pleased. All in all working with Vanguard has been a very positive experience which generated good publicity for both Shawcor and myself. My sincere thanks.
– Tim Hutzul, General Counsel, ShawCor Ltd.


Summer I 2024



  • * We’ll never share your email or info with anyone.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.