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Name and title: Steven D. O’Brien, general counsel and corporate secretary Age: 47 Not just a pollster: Renowned for its polls, research and behavioral studies, The Gallup Organization also provides management consulting services, corporate surveys and performance-improvement regimens for corporations and employees. The Gallup Poll, its various publications, an interactive database and Gallup University are all seminal sources of information and training. Founded in 1935 by Dr. George Gallup, an icon of the science of polling, the Washington-based company employs 2,050 in 40 offices worldwide. Privately held and employee-owned, last year it reported $200 million in annual sales. Daily duties: O’Brien serves as general counsel for all aspects of The Gallup Organization, including the polls, Gallup University and myriad management and consulting functions. He describes himself as a generalist who tends to various corporate responsibilities while managing other attorneys in their areas of specialization. Gallup’s legal work, and thus, O’Brien’s, encompasses three basic areas: employment, intellectual property and contract law. He participates in protecting Gallup’s intellectual property and works on the registration of survey, management and consulting techniques. He also assists the company’s insurance group in matters of coverage and policy limits. O’Brien has served as primary attorney in several mergers and acquisitions, mostly international in scope. Some real estate transactions have also been handled by his department: most recently, a campus for a new training center constructed outside of Omaha, Neb. O’Brien is involved closely with the Open Compliance and Ethics Group of Scottsdale, Ariz., a nonprofit that helps him keep abreast of the industry’s best practices in regulatory and information technology (IT) compliance. To adhere to guidelines suggested by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, he has enhanced Gallup’s internal audit committee (now a three-employee panel) and added an independent director. The Gallup Organization helms three categories of polls. It collaborates with CNN and USA Today on the Gallup Poll. It conducts proprietary polling for business clients, usually for internal research, and it also does polling “on its own nickel” for Gallup’s own use. O’Brien is involved in all such arrangements. One poll that is memorable for him was generated by a remark made by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld on a televised political program. In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Rumsfeld was asked to evaluate the Muslim view of America. The secretary’s response-”It’s not like you can do a Gallup Poll of them”-spurred Gallup into action. Based on extensive surveys done in Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia, the organization released an important poll just five months later. O’Brien is responsible for government relations activities, including the firm’s relationships on Capitol Hill. He serves as liaison with the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Agency for International Development, particularly in efforts to protect the Gallup name overseas. Trademark issues: The Gallup Organization’s name is very well known in the United States and, as a result, O’Brien generally avoids domestic trademark conflicts. Overseas it’s a different story. Due to less sophisticated foreign trademark systems, the Gallup mark is sometimes misappropriated. O’Brien and the organization are presently in the midst of a case involving Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS), a London-based market-information company. The dispute centers around the use of the Gallup name in Russia, and has prompted several O’Brien trips to the country. Initially, the Russian Agency for Patents and Trademarks ruled in Gallup’s favor concerning the ownership of the firm’s mark. TNS then sued the trademark tribunal and The Gallup Organization, alleging that a wrong decision had been reached. The case has now moved to the Russian court system, with a third trial scheduled at the appellate level. Data demands: Gallup must be in compliance with data protection laws in the jurisdictions where the information is collected. In Europe, data protection laws governing survey research are as stringent as those involving credit cards. Today’s rapid pace of information technology means for O’Brien that “we have to be more vigilant as a legal group to make sure we are in the loop. The game got faster and it’s more challenging.” Gallup’s relationship with its respondents is “precious,” and the firm is “always ratcheting up” its IT security efforts in the way it gathers, holds and maintains the confidentiality of data. Legal staff: Three attorneys in addition to O’Brien comprise the Gallup team, assisted by a pair of paralegals and a secretary. The general counsel hires the in-house legal staff and also goes outside as needed, partnering with Pittsburgh-based Buchanan Ingersoll for intellectual property litigation; Kansas City, Mo.’s Blackwell Sanders Peper Martin for corporate and securities matters; and San Francisco’s Littler Mendelson for employment work. One-quarter of the legal work is handled internally. O’Brien uses local counsel in each jurisdiction, relying upon their regional knowledge. He reports to Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer James K. Clifton. Route to the top: Armed with degrees from the University of Nebraska (1980) and George Washington University Law School (1983), O’Brien joined the Lincoln, Neb., litigation firm Knudsen, Berkheimer, Richardson & Endacott upon graduation. He was able to attend hearings right away and tried cases immediately, a “real benefit” in comparison to colleagues on the litigation track who waited years to reach the courtroom. After seven years, he jumped to Gallup as its only attorney, serving as its “de facto general counsel.” Personal: O’Brien was born in Grand Island, Neb., and plays golf in his spare time. He and his wife Becky are the parents of son Nick, 18, and daughter Alex, 10. The GC is proud that during his reign, The Gallup Organization has expanded from one to 28 foreign offices, and its trademark ownership has exploded to more than 1,000. Last book and movie: Make the Rules or Your Rivals Will, by G. Richard Shell, and The Upside of Anger.

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