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Karen Mayer: General Counsel of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.


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Article About Karen Mayer The General Counsel Of Penguin Group (USA), Inc. And Information About General Counsel, Penguin Group, English-Language Trade Book Publisher, Law Students, General Counsel Positions And More.

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Karen Mayer: General Counsel of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  1. 1. LAWCROSSING THE LARGEST COLLECTION OF LEGAL JOBS ON EARTH LAW STAR 1. 800.973.1177 Karen Mayer: General Counsel of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. [By Charisse Dengler] Ask any bookworm you can find, and he or she will tell you that Karen Mayer has a pretty cool job. As General Counsel of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., Mayer plays an integral part in getting books into the hands of readers all across the country. She is involved in negotiating author contracts, as well as dealing with issues pertaining to copyright law, trademarks, and liability. In addition, Mayer said she works on corporate matters such as labor and employment, real estate, and acquisitions.Mayer, who is a member of Penguin’s fully- Mayer, who studied philosophy as an to work as an associate in the litigationstaffed, five-attorney legal team, has worked undergrad, wasn’t sure what type of graduate department of Proskauer Rose, LLP.for a number of other publishing companies degree she wanted to pursue. She had However, with three young children at home,in the past, including Simon & Schuster, never imagined she would want to become a Mayer decided to transition to an in-houseRandom House, and The Putnam Berkley lawyer. In fact, she came upon her interest in position.Group. However, when Putnam Berkley a somewhat unusual way.merged with Penguin in 1996—a merger that “I wanted a more manageable lifestyle, andMayer said was one of the most gratifying “I asked a friend, who was a lawyer and who I wanted something that was more concretethings she’s ever worked on—she became seemed to have interests that were similar and practical,” she said. “At the time, I hadthe general counsel for the combined to mine, if he would please loan me his most three children, and I felt rather strongly thatcompanies. boring casebook,” she said. the life of a litigation associate or partner was simply too difficult to combine with thatThis merger was “very labor intensive but When he loaned her his casebook on agency, of being a suburban mother.”also very rewarding,” she said. Mayer was she found that instead of being bored, shea key player in helping the acquisition move was fascinated. She decided to go to New Mayer enjoys her job immensely, and sheahead because she “was able to answer York University School of Law, and upon especially loves the fact that every day isquestions that people had about the way graduation from law school, she went different and challenging. She said shethe company was being run and the legal likes that she gets to work on a variety ofissues it faced,” she said. “In the end, it Q. What do you do for fun? issues on a daily basis. In addition, she saidwas satisfying to see all the pieces fall into A. Ballroom dancing, sailing, and reading. her job is made even better by the talentedplace.” colleagues and authors she interacts with Q. What CD was most recently in your CD daily. player?Penguin Group is currently “the second- A. Vladimir Ashkenazy playing Chopin.largest English-language trade book She said the most challenging aspect of herpublisher in the world,” boasting well-known Q. What is the last book you read? job is “simplifying complex legal issues soauthors such as Nick Hornby, Tom Clancy, A. Snow by Orhan Pamuk. that people can actually act on some of theJoyce Carol Oates, Nora Roberts, John complex things that we face as lawyers in the Q. hat is your favorite TV show?Steinbeck, and Arthur Miller. As if that isn’t intellectual property area.” A. Ugly Betty.impressive enough, the company is also aleader in the realm of children’s publishing Q. Who are your role models? When asked if she had any advice for lawand has an author list that includes Judy A. Gerald Hollingsworth, who was GC for students who have their sights set on generalBlume, Ludwig Bemelmans, Tomie DePaola, another publisher. When I was young, counsel positions, Mayer advised students toand Don Freeman. it was Brenda Starr, an old comic book “build their skills at the best law firms they character.PAGE continued on back
  2. 2. LAWCROSSING THE LARGEST COLLECTION OF LEGAL JOBS ON EARTH LAW STAR 1. 800.973.1177can find because most in-house positions ON THE NET Advance to Young Lawyersrequire a good deal of outside experiencein related fields.” She said her experience Penguin Group USA Mayer said that it is important for youngworking for Proskauer Rose has helped her lawyers to “first, get as much knowledge us.penguingroup.comtremendously in her current position. as they can, preferably in an outside legal position, to get as broad a base of training Random House“Working in a firm and understanding how and preparation as they can, [and] to try www.randomhouse.coma firm functions has helped me to work with and focus in on the industries that they’reour outside counsel and to be a much better interested in.” Simon Schusterlawyer,” she said. She also recommended that students “build their skills at the best law firms thatShe also encouraged students to gather as they can possibly find.” Mayer said hermuch information and experience as possible experience working in private practice hasand to build a solid foundation in the areas of contributed to her success as a generallaw in which they are interested, both on the counsel. “Working in a firm has made mejob and through volunteer work. a better lawyer, and understanding how a firm functions has helped me to work with our outside counsel,” she said.PAGE