PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, the U.S. arm of the Big Four accounting firm, traces its history to mid-19th century London. It became a global auditing, tax and consulting giant following the 1998 merger of Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand. PricewaterhouseCoopers Interna­tional's global revenues of $31.5 billion in 2012 were the largest among the Big Four that audit the largest multinational companies. Its U.S. unit is the firm's largest and has 2,700 partners and 35,000 employees. PwC's international network of firms has offices in 158 countries.
Diana Weiss, a former partner in King & Spalding's Washington office and at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, was the company's outside ­counsel until 2012. She moved in-house that year following the death of the previous general counsel, Charles William Gerdts III. Weiss oversees a department of 75 people, including 40 lawyers and forensic accountants. They are organized into three groups: litigation, corporate and regulatory and counseling. "This is definitely challenging work," Weiss said. "It's not: Pick up the phone, call outside counsel and go home."
The five outside law firms Weiss turns to most are King & Spalding; Davis Polk & Wardwell; Cravath, Swaine & Moore; Kirkland & Ellis; and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr. Davis Polk does much of the corporate work, but all five firms handle litigation and regulatory matters for the company. Weiss generally pays hourly rates.
"To make significant fixed-fee arrangements work, you need a high volume of similar cases, and we don't have that," she said. "We have a lot of cases, but they're not one-size-fits-all."
Weiss has found that the transition from law firm partner to general counsel has meant dealing with a much wider variety of legal matters. "It's making sure you know enough to understand issues and give good advice without having to do it yourself," she said. "The analysis you do is more about seeing around corners and where the next problem may lie." Weiss manages an active litigation docket, including defending a suit filed by MF Global Holdings Ltd. customers accusing PwC of failing to adequately audit controls at the collapsed derivatives broker.
ROUTE TO THE TOP
A 1991 graduate of Cornell Law School, Weiss began her legal career with the New York law firm Donovan, Leisure, Newton & Irvine. When the firm broke up in 1998, she joined many of its lawyers in moving to Orrick.
In 2001, she moved to Washing­ton and expanded her government-investigations practice for clients including accountants facing probes before the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. In 2010, she and two other Orrick litigation partners jumped to King & Spalding.
A native of Buffalo, N.Y., she enjoys yoga and cheering for the Buffalo Sabres, Buffalo Bills and New York Yankees. She is active in PwC's Earn Your Future program, which helps youths with career counseling.
LAST BOOK AND MOVIE
The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, by Stephen Greenblatt, a history of ideas during the Renaissance; Moonrise Kingdom, directed by Wes Anderson and starring Bruce Willis and Bill Murray.