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Name and title: James C. Carter, vice president, general counsel and chief legal officer Age: 57 Victory goddess: Headquartered in the Portland suburb of Beaverton, Ore., Nike Inc. is the world’s largest seller of athletic shoes and athletic apparel. The company began in 1962 as Blue Ribbon Sports, founded by University of Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight, a runner and business student. In 1972, the company changed its name to Nike, after the Greek winged goddess of victory, and went public in 1980. Its shares trade on the New York Stock Exchange. Nike employs about 26,000 people worldwide. Nike reported net income of $1.2 billion on revenue of $13.7 billion for fiscal year 2005, ending on May 31. Wholly owned subsidiaries include Converse Inc., Cole Haan Holdings Inc. and Hurley International. Free speech litigation: In the 1990s, Nike was the focus of intense criticism over alleged substandard working conditions in factories that made its products. Nike defended itself in a campaign asserting its good labor practices in advertisements, public statements and letters to universities. The campaign prompted consumer activist Mark Kasky to sue Nike in 1998 under a California misleading business practices statute, alleging that Nike intentionally issued false statements in its campaign. Nike sought dismissal under the First Amendment’s speech freedoms. In 2002, the California Supreme Court rejected Nike’s argument, holding that corporations may be legally liable for their public comments, and sent the case back for discovery and trial. The U.S. Supreme Court initially agreed in 2003 to hear the closely watched case, but later reversed itself and dismissed the appeal. With the case back in the trial court, Nike settled in September 2003, agreeing to pay $1.5 million to the Fair Labor Association in Washington to provide workers with education and economic opportunities. Carter had joined Nike just a few months before the lawsuit was filed. “It was intense,” he said. “But I had done litigation work for Nike for a number of years before that, so I knew many of the people in the company, which helped.” Nike felt the need to put a lid on its public comments in light of the suit, Carter said. “There was a potential exactitude demanded by the statute as it was interpreted that would make it really difficult to comfortably talk even casually,” he said. California lawmakers have since changed the law to require plaintiffs to show actual harm. Carter was the legal player on the team that managed the case and its aftermath internally. “It was a blend of caution about the litigation discussion publicly-also an openness to the reality that we had to be public about what was going on,” he said. With corporate responsibility goals in mind, Nike put itself under a microscope, Carter said. Officials examined which Nike people were talking about labor issues, what their sources were and whether the information was accurate, he said. Nike reached out to critics to determine what information they needed to feel satisfied that the company was fulfilling its corporate duties. Meanwhile, the company examined its methods for choosing and monitoring factories, and explored how it could effect improvements. Nike then evaluated how much of the data to make public. Carter said he provided the legal framework for weighing the shades of risk in these decisions. In April, Nike made public its first corporate responsibility report in three years, naming the 731 factories employing 650,000 people with which it did business and describing any ongoing labor problems. “The traditional legal position would have been, ‘Hey let’s not force on the public a lot of information that may put us in a bad light,’ ” Carter said. “ On the other hand, if you are going to create some transparency, you’ve got to put both the good and the bad out.” Knock it off: A constant issue confronting the legal department is knockoffs, Carter said. Companies with popular products face ongoing sales pressure from cheaper products that try to look like the higher-priced name brand. Carter said there are many aspects to defending the product, but the key is to involve lawyers and investigators in the countries where the knockoffs are made. “There’s a lot more action outside the U.S. where a product is produced to take advantage of laws, rules and regulations that exist in those countries,” he said. “The prosecution side in-country, I think, is critical.” Inside team and outside counsel: Carter oversees a team of 34 lawyers worldwide, including about seven in the Netherlands and one in Shanghai, China, organized along product categories and regions. As for outside counsel, Carter said Nike hires lawyers, not firms, and strives to have a key provider in each area, plus a backup or two. “One thing that’s important to me is making sure the inside people don’t feel intimidated by the outside practitioners,” Carter said. Although numerous outside counsel represent Nike, he named three longtime advisers: Mark T. Banner at Chicago’s Banner & Witcoff for patent and other intellectual property work; Barry A. Pupkin of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey’s Washington office for sales rules and competition law; and Tracy K. Edmonson of Latham & Watkins’ San Francisco office for financial and bond work. Route to the top: Before joining Nike in 1998, Carter was a litigator for 20 years at a Portland firm now known as Schulte, Anderson, Downes, Aronson & Bittner. In the five years before going in-house, Carter handled a variety of cases for Nike, including trade secret and employment matters. He joined the company as general counsel for the United States and the Americas, then became chief legal officer in 2003. He reports to chief of staff Lindsay D. Stewart. Carter holds an economics undergraduate degree from Stanford University (1971) and a law degree from the University of Oregon School of Law (1976). Personal: Carter was born in Pendleton, Ore. He and his wife, Julie, a nurse practitioner, have two children, Emily, 22, and Tyler, 20. He runs, cycles and plays golf. Carter chairs Oregon’s Classroom Law Project, which sponsors a constitutional law program called “We The People” in high schools and mock trial competitions from grade schools to high schools. Carter is executive liaison to the Nike employee networks council, which promotes diversity. Last book and movie: The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century, by Thomas L. Friedman, and Walk the Line.

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