The new head of legal at Orbitz Worldwide Inc. joins the online travel business after a considerable trek through corporate lawand across much of the country under his own power.
JIM ROGERS took his seat as the company's general counsel, senior vice president, and corporate secretary in mid-August, hard upon the heels of a bicycle trip in which he cycled 850 miles. The self-described "road warrior" turned the trip into a charitable event for nonprofit network Appleseed, the pro bono organization that he has contributed to throughout his career. While on the road he also tried out his new employer's services, booking hotels along the route using the Hotels by Orbitz iPad app.
Rogers arrives at Orbitz following a two-year stint as general counsel at TLC Vision. The company faced bankruptcy when he arrived, and affiliates of private equity firms Charlesbank Capital Partners LLC and HIG Capital LLC were in the process of acquiring it. Rogers initially agreed to work for TLC for one year, but he stayed on for a second.
Rogers had a long law firm career before he went in-house. But he always knew that he wanted to work directly with corporate clients, and he's excited to bring a pair of fresh eyes to Orbitz. "There's so much to learn here," he says. "Coming in cold to any industry gives you the chance to ask, 'Why do we do it that way?' " To start out, Rogers will focus on transactions, governance, and contract work, and will bring some new hires in to the legal department. ALICE GEENE, Orbitz's former interim general counsel, will serve as assistant GC under Rogers during a transitional period, then will leave Orbitz to take a position as general counsel of Trustwave, an information security provider.
Prior to going in-house, Rogers spent almost 29 years at Latham & Watkins in Washington, D.C., leaving the firm as a partner. While at Latham he became involved in pro bono work, eventually becoming cochair of the board of directors at Appleseed. There he led two major initiatives, one of which, a project to reform immigration courts, brought together colleagues at Latham with other D.C.based attorneys from the firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. "Deals are exciting, and they pay the rent," Rogers says. But, he adds, "in the last couple of years, the immigration court project was what really lit up my eyes."
Rogers attended Columbia University School of Law and Princeton University as part of a joint program during which he earned his law degree and a master's of public administration. He then clerked for two judges, including Ruth Bader Ginsburg, when she was on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He considered working in the public sector. But, he says, "you can be a corporate finance or tax lawyer and make a contribution, too. Here at Orbitz, I've spoken to the legal team about pro bono, and there is a lot of enthusiasm. It speaks to the caliber of the people here."
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Tag, You're It
A game of phone tag ultimately led to a position as general counsel at Mercer Inc. for RIAN MILLER.
PETER BESHAR, the general counsel of parent company Marsh & McLennan, had heard of Miller through consultants and employees at the company. When the position of general counsel at subsidiary Mercer Inc. opened upupon former GC CAROLINE CHENG's departure to work as deputy White House counselBeshar called Miller at Towers Watson, where she was the managing counsel for risk and litigation, and left her a voicemail. She returned his call with a voicemail of her own.
When they finally connected, Beshar told Miller that the GC position at Mercer was available and asked if she was interested in talking to him about it further. "I hadn't even known that the job was available," she says.
Miller began at Mercer in June, leaving her position at Towers Watson after a two-year stint. Since arriving at Mercer, she has been familiarizing herself with the company's leaders and the rest of the legal department, but she was no novice to the industry. "I had the advantage of coming to Mercer with a good understanding of the business that the company is in," she says. (Towers Watson offers advice on human resources, risk management, and financial management, among other services.)
About 50 lawyers work in the law department at Mercer, a human resources consulting and related services firm. Half of the attorneys are based in the United States, and the rest are sprinkled throughout more than 40 other countries. Two lawyers report directly to Miller. Miller reports to Beshar and to Mercer CEO Julio Portalatin.
One of Miller's greatest responsibilities will be dealing with changing laws and regulations. "Anticipating and preempting risk is a big part of what I do," she says. Miller's position at Mercer is much broader than her job at Watson was, she says. The work at Watson was primarily tactical, but the job at Mercer is more broadly strategic. "It's a different kind of challenge, and it takes a different mind-set," she says.