Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Q: What criteria do you use when making the decision to hire outside firms? A: We don’t hire outside counsel and turn matters over to them. We have to take a very close inventory of what skills we have in-house. Do we have the skills available to address the issues that are raised? Generally the answer is yes and the matter stays here. If the answer is no, we need to figure out what we are missing. We will go out very selectively to seek those missing parts and find an attorney who has those requisite skills. That individual would then join our team and help us solve the issue. Q: Any trends in this area? Are you seeing more or less work stay in-house? A: I think in the last year, certainly as we have become more acquisitive, we have relied more heavily on outside counsel than we have in the past. I think that is a trend and I think it will grow. The key here is if we identify certain patterns that are recurring, I will want to go out and staff internally so that we will be able to handle these matters without the need to go outside. Q: If a law firm wants to work with Oracle, how would they best get your attention? A: If the firm has a particular skill set that gives it a distinctive competence, it would be well to bring that to my attention. Rather than producing a rather generic brochure of all the specialties, I think it requires some thought on the part of the firm as to how they might be able to engage with us. The firm may have particular strengths that it believes distinguish it from other firms and that makes it uniquely suited to assist Oracle in issues that would be on our minds. I think it requires the firm to give that some thought and try to match up those internal resources with our needs and then to bring that to my attention in somewhat of a customized way rather than just taking a generic approach. Q: How do you avoid conflicts when it comes to hiring outside firms? A: We take conflicts very seriously as do most law firms. We have systems to determine any potential conflicts as do the firms with whom we work. Because I was in private practice for 20 years, I think I’m very pragmatic with respect to conflict issues. I don’t believe in using conflicts offensively as a tool to disqualify counsel just as a tactical matter. On the other hand, I think there are situations that present genuine conflicts of interest. For example, I do not want a firm that has a strategic relationship with Oracle, a close relationship with us and knowledge about many of the intricacies of the company, appearing opposite us in litigation. I would be uncomfortable with that. Q: Given the company’s stature, I assume you’re in a position to drive a pretty hard bargain on price. A: I think it certainly is true that, to the extent that we can offer outside counsel a significant volume of work, firms find that sufficiently attractive and are willing to offer price concessions. That’s important to us, and I don’t want to minimize it. On the other hand, because of the way we utilize firms, what is equally important is the individuals who are available to assist us and the attention that they’re prepared to devote to our matters. That’s really quite critical, too. Q: What about hiring people in-house? What qualities are you looking for? A: We do not hire straight out of law school. We don’t hire lawyers who are new in practice. The reason is, quite simply, that we want lawyers who are well trained and who have already begun to demonstrate expertise in some functional area of competence. That typically happens in the fourth, fifth or sixth year of being at a major law firm. The prototype candidate we are seeking is somebody who comes from a major firm and who has had significant client responsibilities and increasingly has assumed first-chair responsibilities in projects and cases that they’re working on. Those would be ideal candidates. Q: What would you say are the top three current legal issues facing Oracle? A: I think one of the large, unresolved issues is the collision between the rights afforded by patents and the principles of competition law. There is a natural tension between the rights that are afforded under patent law and the ability of companies to compete freely with one another. It’s a rather turbulent area right now. A second issue is the efficacy of our patent system as it is today. I think that we’re beginning to see the rise of plaintiff syndicates who own patents but don’t utilize them in their businesses because they have no business. These are financial syndicates that are formed purely for the purpose of prosecuting a patent case. Their only interest really is in a financial result. Another area is the variation in state and national laws and the inconsistencies in those laws in areas such as privacy, security and the responsibilities of common carriers. For global companies like Oracle who do business in all of these different jurisdictions, it’s very hard to embrace a global model when these laws are inconsistent. I think ultimately it reduces the efficiency of global commerce. Q: How has globalization specifically affected the management of Oracle’s legal department? A: There is virtually no decision that I have on my desk that does not require me to think beyond our national borders. That’s a real challenge because, as lawyers, we are trained in the laws of the jurisdictions where we’re licensed. I’m licensed in California and, of course, those are the laws that I needed to learn to be able to pass the bar exam. Yet the law that I practice goes far beyond the laws of any of the 50 states. It requires us to have a sensitivity not only to national laws but to systems of law — that is, the differences between civil law, for example, and common law. This is one of the reasons why I have felt it so important that the lawyers who represent Oracle in-house and who are located outside the United States are not expatriates. They’re not Americans sent abroad. Instead they are lawyers who are locally licensed and trained. They understand the local business culture and legal system and they’re able to provide expert guidance on just these nuances because that’s where we need the help. Q: Where is the legal department expanding? A: We are expanding in Eastern Europe. We are expanding in China. We are expanding in India. For us, those are areas of both fairly rapid growth and added complexity, which signify legal risk to the corporation. One way to address legal risk is to be sure that we are locally represented through someone who has intimate knowledge of the local marketplace and the legal system. Q: What are the biggest misconceptions that others might have about your job? A: [Laughing] The hours. People think that when you go in-house your schedule is much more regularized than when you’re outside counsel. That really is not right. In a sense, you’re on-call 24 hours a day and you develop tremendous depth when it comes to representing a single client as opposed to a wide variety of clients. The one thing I would say is that because of the thoroughly electronic nature of Oracle’s environment, we’re a virtual world here. We have the luxury, I think, of being able to spend most of our weekends at home. We still work but we can work very effectively from home and communicate with one another as if we were here in the office. So the number of weekend days that I actually have to come into the office has been diminished dramatically. That’s good. But the hours in the office are every bit as long on weekdays as they used to be. Particularly recently. Q: What’s it like reporting to Larry Ellison? A: It’s great fun. Larry is a visionary and a rare person at that. He is able to see the future in a holistic fashion where all the pieces fit together. I’m not saying Larry’s always right, because he clearly is not, but he’s right a lot more often than he’s wrong. He has this compelling view about how the industry is going to change and evolve. When I first got here eight years ago, the very first action that Larry took was to announce that we were going to develop our products exclusively for the Internet and we would move away entirely from a client-server model. That was a very bold step for this corporation to take. And yet he saw the Internet wave coming. It was really a bet-your-company decision where he just basically said everybody’s going to turn left in unison. And the entire organization did. Daniel Cooperman is senior vice president, secretary and general counsel of Oracle Corp., the second largest software company in the world. Headquartered in Redwood City, Oracle recently made headlines with its $ 10.3 billion purchase and merger with rival PeopleSoft, a deal that was completed in January. Cooperman, Oracle’s general counsel since 1997, oversaw the legal issues that surrounded the hostile takeover of PeopleSoft and the U.S. Justice Department’s effort to block the acquisition on antitrust grounds. Prior to joining Oracle, which currently numbers about 130 in-house lawyers scattered across 31 countries, Cooperman was a partner at San Francisco-based McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen ( now Bingham McCutchen). He received an undergraduate degree in economics from Dartmouth College and an MBA and law degree from Stanford University. Cooperman was interviewed by Loren Stein, a freelance journalist in Palo Alto.

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.