New Orbitz GC Starts Off With Multi-State Bike Trek
Jim Rogers, the new head of legal at Orbitz Worldwide Inc. joins the online travel business after a considerable trek through corporate law.
Rogers took his seat as the companys general counsel, senior vice president, and corporate secretary on August 13, hard upon the heels of a bicycle trip in which the self-described road warrior cycled 850 miles. His tires hit the pavement under the iconic Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, and he finally put down his kickstand in Bethesda, Maryland (just outside Washington, D.C.). Rogers spent much of his careeralmost 29 yearsat Latham & Watkins in the nations capital, leaving the firm as a partner. And he has called St. Louis home for the past two years, as the general counsel of TLC Vision Corporation.
Rogerss trip was somewhat emblematic of his career cycle over the past 33 years. He was able to pedal through several places that have played important roles in his life, and some former colleagues and friends joined him along the way. Most important, from Rogerss point of view, he was able to turn the trip into a charitable event for Appleseed, the pro bono organization that he has contributed to throughout his career. Rogers also tried out his new employers services while on the trip; he booked hotels along the way using the Hotels by Orbitz iPad app.
Rogers says hes always known that he wanted to work directly with corporate clients, and hes excited to bring a pair of fresh legal eyes to Orbitz. Theres so much to learn here, he says. One of the advantages is that coming in cold to any industry gives you the chance to ask Why do we it that way? To start out, Rogers will focus on transactions, governance and contract work, as well as new hires for the legal department. Alice Geene, Orbitzs former interim general counsel, will serve as assistant GC under Rogers during a transition period, then will leave Orbitz to take a position as general counsel of Trustwave, an information security provider.
Rogers arrives at Orbitz following a stint as general counsel at TLC Vision. He was brought on at the company on a temporary basis, as affiliates of the private equity firms Charlesbank Capital Partners LLC and HIG Capital LLC acquired the company out of bankruptcy. While Rogers originally agreed to stay with TLC for one year, he stayed for more than two before deciding it was time to move on. I really enjoyed it, Rogers says. He liked the opportunity to be part of the senior management team, he says, and to make strategic decisions along the way. As he wrapped up his responsibilities there, he made plans to travel and take a vacation. Thats when the idea of the big bike ride began taking form.
When Rogers departed from TLC, the company gave him an appropriate send-off, complete with a Tour de TLC, which meant his colleagues, all decked out in matching shirts, shuttled him around the office to various stations with food and gifts for his road trip. And he went to a St. Louis Cardinals versus Chicago Cubs baseball gamefitting, since Rogers will move from St. Louis to the Windy City for his new job with Orbitz. They were really glad to see me go, Rogers joked about the TLC farewell festivities.
Before taking his first in-house job at TLC, Rogers specialized in corporate transactions and finance, mergers and acquisitions, private equity, and labor and employment at Latham & Watkins, serving clients from many industries. His primary focus was on the technology and communications areas. At Latham, Rogers became involved in pro bono work, and eventually became co-chair of the board of directors at nonprofit network Appleseed. In that role, he led two major initiativesone of which, a project to reform immigration courts, brought together colleagues at Latham and other D.C.-based attorneys, from the firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. Deals are exciting, too, and they pay the rent, Rogers says. But, he adds, in the last couple of years, I would say the immigration court projectthat really lit up my eyes.
Public service was always important to Rogers. After he attended Columbia University School of Law and Princeton University, as part of a joint program during which he earned his law degree and a masters of public administration, Rogers clerked for Judge Charles Clark at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth District. Then he was among the first group of clerks for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, when she was on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit prior to her appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. Rogers thought of his clerkships as a natural extension of his education in the law. He considered working in the public sector, though he never intended to be a litigator. But you can be a corporate finance or tax lawyer and make a contribution, too, Rogers says. One of his goals, once hes settled in at Orbitz, is to reach out to the Chicago branch of Appleseed. Here at Orbitz, Ive spoken to the legal team about pro bono and there is a lot of enthusiasm. It speaks to the caliber of the people here.