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LinkedIn's Legal Eagle Keeps Eye On Privacy, Security
The National Law Journal
Founded in 2003, LinkedIn Corp. is an online networking and social-media service used by more than 200 million professionals around the world. LinkedIn, based in Mountain View, Calif., has almost 4,000 employees. It went public in 2011, and last year the company reported revenues of $972 million, up 86 percent from the previous year.
During the first quarter of 2013, it reported revenue of $324.7 million, an increase of 72 percent from the first quarter of 2012. The site's features are available in 19 languages and in 26 countries.
Erika Rottenberg's duties as vice president, general counsel and secretary include a focus on privacy and security as well as global regulatory matters. The company's fast growth and the evolution of Internet law have ensured that she doesn't have many dull days. Rottenberg's philosophy on management is to focus on the 10 percent to 20 percent of matters that are either key strategic issues or high-risk factors, including data security.
"I sat down at one point last year and thought about how is it that we operate?" she said. "How do we manage to stay squeaky clean?"
LinkedIn's legal team has more than 20 people, including more than 15 attorneys. Overseeing the department is Erika Rottenberg, who is vice president, general counsel and secretary. Rottenberg reports to Chief Executive Officer Jeff Weiner. They meet weekly as part of the executive team but connect by phone or meetings more often, as needed.
The legal team has four groups: commercial, which handles all contract matters; product, which includes intellectual property and privacy matters; litigation and disputes; and corporate.
For outside counsel, LinkedIn uses Cooley to handle trademark work, litigation and privacy matters, and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati for corporate work and privacy issues. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe takes on securities litigation counseling. Munger, Tolles & Olson handles litigation, and Canadian firm Heenan Blaikie tackles privacy matters in Canada and elsewhere.
London's Field Fisher Waterhouse handles privacy issues in Europe. LinkedIn's legal department also gets a hand on policy matters from Monument Policy Group in Washington.
Route to the top
A native of Silver Spring, Md., Rottenberg taught public school in Anchorage, Alaska, from 1984 until 1989. She earned her law degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law in 1992. She spent three years with Cooley after graduating and then moved in-house to become general counsel for Creative Labs Inc. She held that position from 1996 until 2002.
She became LinkedIn's first full-time attorney in 2008. The company previously had relied on a contract attorney to serve as acting general counsel.
Rottenberg enjoys cycling, hiking, spending time with friends and eating good food. Her legal team participates in pro bono work that has included sending lawyers on the Justice Bus to rural areas to serve people needing legal counsel.
Last book and movie
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandberg. Rottenberg admits she's not a big moviegoer and much prefers theater. She's recently seen The Book of Mormon and War Horse and recommends both.
June Bell writes for National Law Journal, a Daily Report affiliate.