GC Powerlist US Teams - page 94

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GC POWERLIST 2015
US TEAMS
The team
The legal team is as old as my 16-month tenure at the
company – there was only one other lawyer when
I joined. We now have ten lawyers and two legal
managers.
I tend to keep an active hand in all matters – some
much more active than others. But for virtually any
issue, I can turn to the impossibly talented and deep
bench we have. Our deputy GC, Dom Perella, has
a similarly expansive purview, but tends to focus
principally on litigation, compliance, copyright
issues, and Snapchat’s ‘Live Stories’ – our user-
generated news and feature coverage.
The team is divided into six groups: IP, litigation,
employment, M&A, advertising, and original
content. The lawyers on these teams are all whip-
smart and bring impeccable legal judgment to
the questions they’re hit with. But—and this is
important—they also are savvy about the business,
the product, and the philosophy that informs so
much of what Snapchat does. That makes a real
difference in how we’re able to truly partner with
the business; not just play the part of passive legal
arbiter.
We have a wealth of experience on the team in
every area. Some came from Silicon Valley or from
other industries. As for me, I took a slightly more
unorthodox path to Snapchat’s beachside office:
I spent 14 years in Washington, DC in a major firm
doing Supreme Court and appellate litigation.
The job
Working in legal at Snapchat is an incredibly
rewarding experience if you like thinking creatively
about the law. Given the company’s culture of
restless innovation, we have no playbook. We
often have to go back to first principles, since
there is no blueprint for what Snapchat is doing.
We’re often called upon to figure out the ways in
which anachronistic laws apply to these modern
technologies. Suffice it to say we work very closely
with the designers, engineers, and business folks to
ensure that Snapchat maintains its innovative edge
without crossing legal lines.
So that’s why the common denominator uniting the
lawyers here is creativity. For me what makes a great
legal team—especially at a company like Snapchat—
is finding people who are intellectually curious about
the law and how the law and business affect each
Snapchat
i
General counsel
i
Chris Handman
i
Based in Venice Beach, California, with offices steps from the sand, Snapchat
has established a beachhead for the tech community in Southern California.
We spoke to Snapchat general counsel Chris Handman about the challenges
of gearing up a legal team for this innovative company.
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