Erika Rottenberg
Erika Rottenberg (Jason Doiy)

PALO ALTO — LinkedIn Corp. announced Thursday that longtime general counsel Erika Rottenberg will leave the company in August. In a statement, Rottenberg, 51, said she has “decided to take some time off from the day-to-day work that is required from a general counsel” after six years in that role at LinkedIn and 21 years in the legal profession.

“Our company feels tremendous gratitude to her for her fantastic insights and smart counsel,” LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner said in a statement. “We wish her the very best as she pursues her ‘next play.’”

A company spokeswoman said the search for a replacement won’t go through a headhunter. Instead, it will use LinkedIn, adding that it will look for “a smart, savvy general counsel who can lead a strong team, drive successful business results and navigate an increasingly complex industry landscape.”

Rottenberg joined the Mountain View-based professional networking service as its first full-time attorney and GC in July 2008. Today, the legal department has a staff of 30, more than double the size of the team in 2012.

Rottenberg joined from SumTotal Systems, a talent development software company, where she was general counsel; she also held that post at Creative Labs, which brought multimedia capabilities to the computer. A graduate of UC-Berkeley School of Law, she started her career in Cooley’s litigation department. Rottenberg had previously taught junior high school special education in Alaska.

She is credited with shepherding the company through its 2011 initial public offering, which was one of the most successful tech debuts of that year, and helping establish a LinkedIn presence in China. Rottenberg also used her post to push for enhanced transparency about how tech companies collect and use data and to speak out on patent trolling’s impact on business. She’s been an advocate for women in the legal field, and many of her deputies at LinkedIn are women.

In her time at LinkedIn, the value of the company has soared. The stock made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange at $45, and it now trades at around $177, making Rottenberg’s current holdings in Class A common stock worth some $6.8 million. According to an aggregator of SEC Form 4 data, since LinkedIn’s IPO, Rottenberg has sold shares worth some $45 million.

“Erika was a key driver of the strategy and success of LinkedIn, far beyond just legal compliance,” said Cooley’s Eric Jensen, who said her engagement of regulatory and industry groups on privacy “established a model emulated by the leading Internet companies in Silicon Valley.” Jensen, who worked with Rottenberg on the company’s IPO, said they’d also teamed up on pro bono projects.

“This company has an incredible future ahead of it, and I feel privileged to have been a part of its both foundational and transformational years,” Rottenberg said. “I am looking forward to helping LinkedIn identify its next general counsel.”

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