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Thanks to her new job, Terri Durham is about to become the coolest mom on her block. As executive vice president and global general counsel of Vivendi Universal Games Inc., she’s honing her video-gaming skills. Fortunately for the company, Durham’s competitive instincts aren’t limited to the screen. She wants to help VU Games, which trails competitors like Electronic Arts and Activision, Inc., become “a real player” in the games industry. The 40-year-old joined the company on May 17, jumping over from its parent, Vivendi Universal S.A., where she was vice president and counsel overseeing litigation and compliance matters. VU Games CEO Bruce Hack recruited her to lead the 15-lawyer department, replacing Robert Marafioti. Before moving in-house, Durham was a partner in the San Diego office of Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich, specializing in First Amendment, intellectual property, and complex business litigation. Durham says she loved working as a litigator so much that she expected to retire at the firm. But after making partner, her goals began to shift. “I wanted to influence business going forward, rather than always just jumping off to the next crisis,” she says. In 1996, with the tech sector booming, the time seemed right to make a switch. Durham took a job as vice president of legal affairs at MP3.com, Inc. The online music retailer was acquired in 2000 by Vivendi Universal Net USA Group Inc., and Durham became a senior vice president there, handling legal matters for VU’s Internet brands. The highly competitive Durham says she still sometimes misses the thrill of battling in court. “It’s always hard to just watch,” she admits. But she welcomes the chance to be more involved in daily business operations. Durham says one of her goals is building tighter relationships between the law department and the marketing, sales, and executive teams. She wants the lawyers to have more input in positioning and closing deals. To facilitate this, she has set up an interactive rights database that gives all the players access to the contracts and licensing agreements. In a family that bought two Gameboys and an Xbox just to keep the peace at home, Durham’s new job might be most exciting for her children. Her 7-year-old son now spends his time designing his dream video games and angling to become a product tester.

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