Oliver Herzfeld, Senior Vice President & Chief Legal Officer, the Beanstalk Group. ()
The Beanstalk Group LLC is the brand-licensing agency that helped turned the Jaguar auto brand into a chain of stores selling high-end Jaguar-branded merchandise, and launched a line of Salma Hayek beauty products through CVS pharmacies, among deals for The Procter & Gamble Co., Jack Daniels, Black & Decker and Ford Motor Co.
Beanstalk is headquartered in New York, with offices in London, Los Angeles, Miami and Hong Kong and affiliates throughout the world. Parent Omnicom Group Inc. does not disclose Beanstalk’s revenue.
General counsel Oliver Herzfeld heads a team of three attorneys and four nonattorneys who keep track of corporate documents. More than 95 percent of the workload involves transactions and less than 5 percent employment, litigation, real estate and all other matters, he said. And the in-house team handles about 95 percent of that work, with only 5 percent going to outside counsel.
“We do about 500 agreements a year — I run a contract factory,” Herzfeld said. “We only eat what we shoot and kill, we get compensated on the deals we can secure.”
When looking for outside counsel, Herzfeld values firms with a history of working with his company.
His favorites include Atlanta-based Troutman Sanders for corporate matters and three other firms — Phillips Nizer of New York for licensing matters and litigation; Davis & Gilbert for mergers and acquisitions and litigation; and Sullivan & Worcester of Boston for its corporate and intellectual property expertise.
Herzfeld arrives at the office around 9 a.m. and leaves by 7:30 p.m. unless business keeps him later. “Every day is interesting and different,” he said. “All types of legal matters continuously arise from all offices, divisions and departments of the firm.” He travels less than 5 percent of the time.
He contributes articles about intellectual property and entertainment to Forbes.com, where his item about the Robin Thicke hit “Blurred Lines” garnered 58,000 hits. He reports to Beanstalk’s chief financial and operating officer Marc Schneider.
ROUTE TO THE TOP
Following his graduation from New York University in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, Herzfeld became a computer consultant, working for the United Nations and Blue Shield. But he found the work isolating, he said, and decided he wanted to work “more with a team of people”; he earned his J.D. from Columbia Law School in 1990. He joined Sullivan & Cromwell and moved to his first in-house job at JP Morgan as assistant general counsel in 1993. He later became general counsel to Capco, a professional-services firm for financial industry, in 1999. A year later he joined w-Technologies Inc., a wireless technology firm, as chief legal officer. He joined Beanstalk in 2003.
Herzfeld is a New York native whose hobbies include movies, TV and theater; working out; writing; networking; and walking the dogs. He and wife Judith Orovitz Herzfeld have four children: Hillel, 25; Lena, 23; Joshua, 21; and Margo, 19.
LAST BOOK AND MOVIE
“Patent Law” (“boning up”) and “The Wolf Of Wall Street.”
His advice: Learn your boss’ job and “Be someone your clients want to have a drink with about the business, not just some narrow legal problem.”