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Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Qwest Communications International Inc. 2004 Revenues: $13.80 billion Lawyers in Legal Department: 110
What becomes a GC most? In an era of corporate scandal, it’s the lawyer who can guide his company safely through a government investigation and protect it from the ensuing bombardment of lawsuits. These days, that’s precisely Stefan Stein’s job description. A senior vice president and deputy GC, the 48-year-old handles Qwest Communications International Inc.’s response to all government investigations — by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, or the General Services Administration — as well as related civil litigation. He’s Qwest’s “wartime consigliere” says James Lyons, a partner with Denver’s Rothgerber Johnson & Lyons who, as counsel for Qwest’s board, worked with Stein for two years on derivative suits. A Los Angeles native, Stein has a resume custom-made for the job. He joined the telecom in December 2001 from Denver’s Sherman & Howard, where he was a litigation partner. Prior to that he was deputy chief of the public corruption and government fraud section of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles. Alejandro Mayorkas, former U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California (and now a partner at O’Melveny & Myers, which serves as outside counsel for Qwest), watched Stein prosecute high-profile cases, such as one against Darnell Garcia, a U.S. drug enforcement agent accused of drug distribution and money-laundering. “Throughout that months-long trial, Stefan demonstrated incredible mastery of an intricate web of evidence, gathered from around the world, and the law,” he says. Stein’s tactical skill and cool head under fire are invaluable these days. He led the Denver-based company, which has cooperated fully with the government investigations, to a $250 million settlement with the SEC in October. But there was no time for rest. Resources freed from the SEC front were immediately redeployed to defend civil litigation. “We’re operating on the frontlines here,” says Stein, “dealing with issues and taking blows.” Qwest currently faces two securities class actions, seven individual securities actions, an ERISA class action, and three lawsuits over its involvement with a bankrupt Dutch company. Stein and his staff of three attorneys and one paralegal orchestrate the efforts of over 100 lawyers at six outside firms (Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr; Haddon, Morgan, Mueller, Jordan, Mackey & Foreman; Wiley Rein & Fielding; Boies, Schiller & Flexner; O’Melveny & Myers; and Sherman & Howard). On top of this, Stein also coordinates with counsel for some 50 current and former officers, directors, and employees. There have been a few notable victories along the way. Stein negotiated a settlement with 10 insurance carriers that had tried to rescind $350 million in D&O coverage for the company. The result was a $200 million trust for Qwest and its directors and officers. In June, Qwest also settled a high-profile derivatives suit for $25 million. According to colleagues and outside counsel, Stein doesn’t simply coordinate all of this litigation. He also has in-depth knowledge about each case. “A lot of in-house attorneys are a mile wide and an inch deep,” says Stein’s boss, Qwest GC Richard Baer, “but Stefan seems to be both a mile wide and a mile deep.”

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