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Still Carrying the Torch
For Terry Miller, the general counsel of the London 2012 Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, her most vivid memory wasn't the 25,000 contracts, nor the security company she is fighting for backing out of its deal. For Miller, an avid equestrienne, it was being part of the Paralympic award ceremony when a British rider won a gold medal.
How did a beginning reporter in Cincinnati find her way to London and become an international general counsel for Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and then GC of the Olympics? As Miller wound down the leftover legal business from the 2012 games, she talked about her journey, her love of horses, and the challenges of her job with reporter Sue Reisinger. An edited version of their conversation follows. (In the interest of full disclosure, Miller and Reisinger were University of Dayton Law School classmates in the mid-1970s, and Reisinger once worked with Miller's British-born husband, Jonathan, at the Dayton Daily News .)
Corporate Counsel: Tell me about your career and how you landed in London.
Terry Miller: 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. When Jonathan was offered a job in London, the law firm worked out an arrangement so that I could do K&L work from [there]. [Then] Goldman Sachs hired me in-house, and I worked there for 17 years, becoming partner, group deputy general counsel, and international general counsel overseeing legal teams across Europe and Asia. It 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 [organizing committee], 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 early?
TM: It was full-on right from the start. There is a master schedule of things to be done at certain times. 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.
CC: How could there be 25,000 or more contracts?
TM: There were even more when you count that every volunteerand there were 70,000 of themhad a contract, as did each torchbearer, every city, town, village, harbor, pier, and community [that torchbearers] passed through. Every single employee had a contract, as did all the venues and facilities. And there were contracts for massive purchases, such as 1 million tennis balls, sand [2,200 tons] for beach volleyball, and temporary toilets [around 14,000].
CC: How many lawyers worked with you?
TM: About 3217 were my core team and the rest were seconded from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in what was a first for the Olympics: a law firm appointed as an official Olympics provider.
CC: Security was a big issue; what was your role in that?
TM: Security was always a concern, ever since the July 7  bombings in London. From a legal perspective, we assisted with negotiation and verification with security providers. The government had overall responsibility for security, and we had responsibility for private-sector providers. It was to be a blended resource pool, but the [private provider] had significant failings. We worked closely with the government to deploy more Army personnel to fill the gap. [The firm] accepted responsibility for paying the additional costs. We withheld all remaining payments and are in the process of negotiating a settlement.
CC: I understand that you presented awards to British equestriennes in the Paralympics. Why?
TM: All directors were invited to participate in the Paralympic medal ceremonies. I chose the equestrian ceremonies because I've been involved with a group of disabled riders for years. The winner, Sophie, has serious cerebral palsy, and I got to give her flowers. It was a hugely emotional moment for me. I knew all the work she had done to get there.
CC: Do you regret giving up competitive riding to work more than six years on the Olympics?
TM: Oh, this is a job you would never pass up. I love sports; there are few I won't watch. This was a once-in-a-lifetime chance, and it will give me memories forever.