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Before he became general counsel at Apple, Inc in 2007, Oracle’s then-GC Daniel Cooperman was on a business trip in China and his boss’s best friend called him with a question. That friend was Steve Jobs, whose company had cycled through two top lawyers back-to-back and was now facing a vacuum in Apple’s law department. “He said, Look, obviously I’m not doing this right,” Cooperman recalls. Jobs went on: “I need to know, what does it take?” Back in California, Cooperman met with Jobs at the chief executive’s house one Saturday afternoon to explain how to build an in-house legal department. By day’s end, Jobs—who was the best man at Oracle CEO Larry Ellison’s wedding—was offering Apple’s GC spot to Ellison’s top lawyer. And when Cooperman eventually accepted (with Ellison’s support), it marked the beginning of a new chapter for the world’s most valuable tech company, where legal issues have been embraced by the corporate culture that Jobs so painstakingly tended. Jobs’ passing on Wednesday has shone a light on the inner workings of Apple, a company heralded for its secrecy. And Apple’s in-house legal strategy has been integral to the company’s $300-plus-billion business—from protecting its simple signature logo and coordinating worldwide product launches to waging litigious warfare over smartphone patents. That litigation agenda has been driven by general counsel Bruce Sewell, who joined Apple from Intel Corp. in 2009, when Cooperman retired from Apple and the in-house world. As Reuters reports, the Cupertino, California-based company rarely filed lawsuits before Sewell’s hiring. Since then, writes Susan Decker, Sewell, using iPhone patent portfolio, “has led Apple’s fight against mobile devices running Google Inc.’s Android operating system in lawsuits spanning four continents.” Prominent among those suits is a contentious battle with Samsung Electronics Co. As with so many proclamations from the tight-lipped Apple campus, Sewell’s appointment came as a surprise, but “it was clearly a good hire,” says Mark Lemley, director of Stanford University’s program in law, science, and technology. Lemley used to practiced law with Sewell at the firm Brown & Bain. “You need a certain combination of both patience and fight and energy to work well with Steve Jobs. And I think Bruce had that combination.” Apple declined a request to interview Sewell, and declined to comment for this story. Jobs’ path to i-success has become nearly mythical. He and Steve Wozniak started their personal computing business in Jobs’ garage in 1976. By 1980, Apple Computer had gone public, netting Jobs an estimated $200-plus million fortune. In 1985, however Jobs was run out of the company in a now-infamous boardroom coup—only to be asked to return to rescue the struggling computer-maker in 1997. The rest is history. Over the last decade, Jobs cemented the company’s success—and his legacy—by revitalizing Apple’s line of personal computers and launching the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad tablet. Says Cooperman: “His ability to stand atop a very complex organization, comprised of software and hardware engineers—typically totally different mindsets from different industries, and orchestrating them the way a symphony conductor would, to work so seamlessly together, in the interest of building just fantastic products—that is a real art.” Cooperman first met Jobs in the wake of his 1985 ouster, when Jobs went on to form another company: NeXT Inc., which Cooperman incorporated on behalf of the bespectacled innovator. By the time they reconnected two decades later, Cooperman’s immediate predecessors had clearly not worked out. Nancy Heinen, who had also been Jobs’ general counsel at NeXT, left Apple in 2006 and was later implicated in a scandal at Apple involving backdated stock options. (She settled charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2008.) Her replacement, Donald Rosenberg, formerly of IBM, did not last long at the Cupertino headquarters, either. Cooperman hadn’t planned on leaving Oracle. He was happy there, and the legal department hummed along “with the precision of a Swiss watch,” he says. But by the end of that Saturday afternoon discussing legal department structure with Jobs, the marketing wizard had worked his magic on Cooperman. Larry Ellison, Cooperman’s boss at the time, didn’t encourage his GC to leave but did impress on Cooperman the value of an opportunity to work for Jobs. “Ellison said, ‘Look, Steve Jobs is one of the very few, perhaps the only person in Silicon Valley who will have made a mark on his generation to the point that he will be remembered in 100 years as one of the true visionaries of our time,’” Cooperman remembers. “And Larry doesn’t say that about many people.” Cooperman reported directly to Jobs. They didn’t talk every day. Rather, Jobs expected his management team “to take care of their own issues,” Cooperman says. “So they would reach out to him when help was needed, or when additional input was needed.” One of the issues facing Cooperman was restoring morale in the law department. “As any department would be when you have so many changes in leadership—it was destabilized,” says Cooperman. It fell to him to get the department back on “an even keel.” Then came time for the iPhone launch in 2007, a demanding task for his approximately 100-person law department. The revolutionary mobile device was being introduced in 70 countries in three waves, all in the span of a few months. “This was a product the company had never made before—a phone—in a market it had never been in, in a [telecommunications] space that is highly regulated in almost every country. We had to do this from scratch. So we were scrambling, really scrambling,” he says. Similar to how the iPod and iTunes stores changed how music was bought and sold, Jobs was once again shifting the parameters of commerce with the iPhone. “Up until the time the iPhone was introduced, the major telephone carriers in the United States dictated of phones you could buy, and what capabilities those phones would have,” Cooperman says. “Suddenly, with the iPhone, it was totally different.” Looking back on his tenure at Apple, Cooperman calls it “a very inspiring period. I just found it to be riveting, to be able to work with him and be able to see his perspicacity—his vision was so keen.” These days, Cooperman teaches a course at Stanford University that stresses interdependence between the success of a senior executive and the success of the legal department in achieving strategic goals. Entitled, “The Role of the Modern General Counsel,” he lectures to both law school and business school students on how dramatically the role of general counsel has been recast over the past 15 years. Cooperman doesn’t reveal any trade secrets in class (naturally), though his curriculum does draw generally on his own GC experiences at Oracle and Apple. The executive bench under Jobs was a textbook case of the kind of strong management team Cooperman tells his students about. At Apple, “legal issues are embraced, the lawyers are not treated like plumbers—i.e., ‘There’s a problem, go fix it. The pipe is broken, go fix it.’ But rather the lawyers are part of the senior management team, their views are solicited about major issues.” Standing so close to Jobs during that time, Cooperman also had the chance to observe what made the CEO so good at what he did. “He had the ability to shut things out of his mind and just focus very narrowly on one specific issue. I often said that his greatest strength was his ability to say no. Because you can imagine that over the years, so many people came at him with ideas about one product or another,” Cooperman says. “He focused very, very sharply on making excellent products that people would love, and not doing lots of other things that would distract from that mission.”

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