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    May 5, 2008  


Join us for lunch with three of America's top General Counsels: Freddie Mac's Bob Bostrom, the Washington Post's Veronica Dillon, and American Capital Strategies' Sam Flax (largest publicly-held private equity firm in the US; Sam and his team were named WMACCA's law department of the year).  Wed, May 28, at Il Mulino in DC. Sign up here. Thanks to great sponsors Studley and IMC.


With the horse race between Hillary and Obama so much fun, we decided to check in on Steve O'Brien, General Counsel to Gallup. He tells us in past Presidential elections Gallup started nightly polling only after the conventions, but this cycle they've been producing such numbers since January 1. But mainly we kept wondering:  What's a GC do there? Hmm, could Hillary sue them because of bad results?


From his Penn Quarter office, Steve helms a five-lawyer team counseling a business making $300 million a year. Some of the take comes from Gallup's national polling; a subscription to the World Poll, which tests public opinion in 140 nations on a wide range of questions (Do you have enough food? What do you think of the U.S.?), will run you about $30K. But Gallup's polling actually accounts for only a small part of the business, and doesn't require much legal work.


Though he loves handicapping and once had a stake in 23 race horses, Steve has discovered it isn't the most reliable money maker. But back to Gallop...errr, Gallup.  Much of its revenue comes from management consulting. Companies such as Lexus and Toyota use its consultants and market research to strengthen relationships between management and employees and brands and customers. So Steve spends much of his time on international IP protection, thwarting foreigners, for example, who slap the Gallup name on research reports. Though he makes use of Baker & McKenzie and others, Steve says a single relationship can't take care of problems across the globe. Instead, he goes with "a bunch of independents," even a father and son shop in Germany.  


Showing off polling data in America Speaks, a Gallup newspaper product from the 1930s, Steve came on as the firm's first general counsel in 1990. At the time he was litigating railroad cases in Nebraska, where Gallup had its headquarters. (It moved top operations to DC in 2000.) So, did Gallup have a hard time convincing him to climb aboard? "Trying cases is the most fun you can have outside of sex." So yeah, they made him a pretty good offer. 

John Ford is Bisnow's Managing Editor. Got a good story? By all means, let him know at john@bisnow.com.

Andrews Kurth
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