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Juniper Networks GC Mitchell Gaynor Seeks a Few Good Tech Lawyers
Juniper Networks Inc. designs and markets network infrastructure equipment and software that support the internet, mobile internet and cloud computing. Its products include routers, network traffic management software, virtual private network and firewall devices, data center, and intrusion detection, and prevention systems. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company also does consulting and support services for customers, which include phone and cable companies, content and social networking providers, large enterprises, government agencies, and universities. Juniper reported 2011 revenues of $4.45 billion.
THE QUICK BIO
Mitchell Gaynor joined Juniper in 2004 as vice president and general counsel. In 2011, he became executive vice president, general counsel, and secretary of a department that stood at six lawyers when he arrived and now numbers more than 35. Gaynor graduated in 1981 with an A.B. in history from the University of California-Berkeley and thought about being a history professor but eventually reasoned "that law would offer the chance for a little more success and the opportunity to do a lot more things." He graduated from University of California Hastings law school in 1984 and took his first job as an associate at now-defunct Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison as "a general purpose business and securities lawyer." The one thing Gaynor was never cut out for was litigation, but "I found that I had an ability to understand technology businesses and I really enjoyed working with those companies, contributing to their growth."
In 1989, he left Brobeck for a year to go work for ComputerLand, one of the early national retail computer chains, but returned in 1990 and worked there until enterprise software maker Sybase Inc. made him an offer to go in house in 1993, where he held several roles before becoming vice president and general counsel. He joined internet billing and customer management systems maker Portal Software (now owned by Oracle Corp.) in 1999 and stayed there until he was recruited by Juniper in 2004.
As Gaynor explains, Juniper was looking for an experienced GC "who would know how to scale this department as the company grew." But he didn't realize how quickly that need would come. "I was supposed to start on a Monday, but they called me on Thursday night and told me they needed me the next day." As it turned out, the company was already planning its $4 billion acquisition of network security software company NetScreen Technologies Inc. that year, and Gaynor had to hit the ground running. "I think they still owe me two days' pay," he said, laughing.
Since Gaynor was hired, Juniper has grown from 1,500 employees to more than 9,000 globally. While he doesn't travel "as much as I should," Gaynor says he likes his job "because it covers every legal issue all over the world."
INSIDE AND OUTSIDE COUNSEL
Juniper's legal department payroll tops out at 65 including staff, paralegals, and other functions managed by Gaynor. The majority of the department is located in Sunnyvale, with others in the D.C. area, Massachusetts, the United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan. "We look for people who are very good at collaborating and are practical," Gaynor said. "We want people looking for a company they want to stay with a long time."
Most of the department is focused on supporting the sale and licensing of products to customers and the purchasing and inbound licensing of technology. But Gaynor says intellectual property issues are increasingly at the forefront, whether in the form of patent litigation with nonpracticing entities or negotiations with suppliers and customers regarding intellectual property infringement indemnification.
As for departmental workload, he notes, "Most of the people in my department have kids at home, and I try to make sure they have an appropriate work/life balance."
In terms of outside counsel, Juniper uses Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati for securities, M&A and litigation and Baker & McKenzie for international work and HR support. Irell & Manella takes the lead on the company's patent litigation, with Shumaker & Sieffert and Harrity & Harrity splitting other patent responsibilities.
According to Gaynor, "We're not innovators in the alternative billing space. On the patent side we work out fee structures and sometimes explore discounted hourly rates. Mostly, we choose firms with the right tools for the right matters." As for future hiring, Gaynor says he's always looking for good technology company lawyers with "significant law firm and in-house experience."
Gaynor is married with two children, ages 24 and 20. In his spare time, he explores his interest in ancient history, particularly Greece and Rome. He recently finished Barbara W. Tuchman's A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century and Erich S. Gruen's Rethinking the Other in Antiquity. He sees at least one movie a week and considers The Artist a 2011 favorite.
Lisa Holton is a freelance writer based in Chicago.