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Deputy General Counsel Google Inc. 2004 Revenue: $3.2 billion Lawyers in Legal Department: 42
“Do no evil.” They’re probably the three most famous words from Google Inc.’s unorthodox IPO prospectus last summer. The phrase could also serve as a mantra for one of our Shortlist honorees, Google deputy general counsel Miriam Rivera. Senior Google execs got a taste of Rivera’s style this past holiday season. A contracts attorney at the Internet search company had to work furiously on a big deal with a deadline around the holidays, and he had to toil through Christmas Day to complete it. Afterward, Rivera told the executive who had set the deadline for the deal, “I want to debrief on this. Why did this [lawyer] have to work over Christmas?” We have a custom in the legal department, she told the executive, that holidays are sacred. Rivera came away with an apology and a promise that it wouldn’t happen again. Rivera, 41, “isn’t afraid to speak to power,” says her friend and former colleague Jeffrey Belkora, director of decision services at the UCSF Breast Care Center. “She’s got a combination of street smarts and high education, and when you mix that in with her high ethical standards, people take notice.” The second lawyer ever hired at the Mountain View, Calif.-based business, Rivera, as head of the commercial transactions group, quickly made her bones as a tough, fast negotiator at the contract table. She hammered out deals with scores of companies that use Google’s search tools on their Web sites, or bought sponsored links on Google pages. And she earned a reputation for speaking plainly, building teams, and nurturing colleagues. Now, as deputy GC, she’s the “COO of the legal department,” says Christopher Chin, a colleague who stepped into her old job when she was promoted last October. As such, Rivera’s charged with making sure the department runs smoothly, while GC (and vice president, corporate development) David Drummond handles long-term strategy. Rivera had a big role in building the department she’s now managing; she took the transactions team from one (herself) to 24 people. It’s been tough; Google is choosy about its hires. According to Rivera, “it’s easier to get into Stanford Law School than to get a job at Google.” And, she adds, the highly successful company is not only looking for great credentials, but a certain something she calls “googleyness,” which Rivera describes as a combination of legal smarts, scientific and tech savvy, and being “team players as opposed to divas.” Raised by a single mother in Chicago, Rivera went to Stanford on scholarships, earning a law degree and an MBA. After a stint as an associate at the now defunct Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, Rivera, her entrepreneur husband, Clint Korver, and Belkora caught the Silicon Valley startup bug. They launched a short-lived business analysis software firm. “She learned everything from soup to nuts about running a company,” says Belkora. He says that when cash ran low, “Miriam got on the phone with vendors and laid it out very honestly.” Later, Rivera went in-house as a lawyer, landing a job at software-maker Ariba Inc., negotiating contracts. What’s ahead for her? “While I would love to be a general counsel someday, I didn’t enter the profession to do that,” she says. But Belkora sees a sprint to the top. He jokingly refers to Rivera as “the racehorse [who] doesn’t just run fast, she runs well.”

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