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Q&A with Terry Miller, GC of the London 2012 Olympic Games, Part 1
For Terry Miller, the general counsel of the London 2012 Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, her most vivid memory isnt the 25,000 contracts she oversaw, nor the security company she is fighting for backing out of its deal at the last minute. For Miller, an avid equestrienne, the most emotional moment was being part of the Paralympic award ceremony when a British rider won a gold medal.
So how did a former reporter in Cincinnati find her way to London, become an international general counsel for Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and then GC of the Olympics, you might wonder? As Miller winds down the leftover legal business from the 2012 games, she took time to talk to Corporate Counsel about her journey, her love of horses, and the challenges of her job with reporter Sue Reisinger. (In the interest of disclosure, Miller and Reisinger were University of Dayton Law school classmates in the mid-70s, and Reisinger worked with Millers British-born husband, Jonathan, at the Dayton Daily News.)
Here are excerpts from their recent conversation:
Corporate Counsel: Briefly, tell me about your career and how you ended up in London.
Terry Miller: After graduation in 1977, I worked in enforcement at the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington D.C. for six years, took a year off with two small children, and then joined Kirkpatrick & Lockhart in private practice. When Jonathan was offered a good job in London in 1988, the law firm worked out an arrangement with a group of solicitors in England so that I could do K&L work from those offices. In 1989, Goldman Sachs hired me in-house and I worked there 17 years, becoming partner, group deputy general counsel, and international general counsel overseeing legal teams across Europe and Asia. [Being hired] was lucky timing, because England was just going through this new securities regulatory structure, and much of it was based on the U.S. model.
CC: How did you start working for the Olympics?
TM: In 2005 I planned to work part-time at Goldman Sachs and spend more time working on my equestrienne skills, trying to raise my competitive level. Then one of my fellow Goldman Sachs partners became the CEO of the [London 2012 Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games], and he asked if I would be the general counsel.
CC: You started the job more than six years before the actual games; what was there to do that soon?
TM: It was full-on right from the start. There is a master schedule of things to be done at certain times; its a model for the International Olympics Committee. There were already eight people on the legal team and a ton of work. The big push at the beginning was to develop a sponsorship model because most of the spend comes from private contributions. We helped negotiate and sign sponsorship deals. But much of the work was contracts.
CC: There were 25,000 or more contracts. How could that be? With whom?
TM: There were even more when you count that every volunteerand there were 70,000 of themhad a contract, as did each torch bearer, every city, town, village, harbor, pier, and community we [torch bearers] passed through. Every single employee had a contract, as did all the venues and facilities. And contracts for massive purchases, such as a million tennis balls, sand (some 2,200 tons) for beach volleyball, and temporary toilets (estimated at 14,000).
CC: How many lawyers worked with you?
TM: About 32 lawyers17 were my core team and the rest were seconded from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in what was a first for the Olympicsa law firm appointed as an official Olympics provider. As a sponsor, it provided people with special skills, especially property law, on secondment, plus others did hourly work as well. They handled all our venue use agreements. It was a huge advantage for us.
CC: London reportedly performed a massive redevelopment of the area in and around the Olympic Park; were you involved in those efforts?
TM: Yes, we worked closely, especially on how we would manage the park, when we would take it over and give it back, simple things like cutting the grass and turning off the lights. There was a master plan on what we needed and what could be used after the games. For example, the athletes village was constructed so it could be sold after the games as sustainable housing. Were doing that now. Regeneration and legacy is an effort involving the government and the City of London, but we worked closely with them.
Stay tuned for part two of our interview with London Olympics GC Terry Miller.