[Faster.] [Higher.] [Stronger.]
A University of Dayton law graduate is at the center of London’s efforts to host the 2012 Olympic Games and revitalize its long-neglected East End.
Commuting to work every morning is something of an epic journey for Terry Miller ’77.
She drives 10 miles from her bucolic 15th-century farmhouse in tiny Alfold, Surrey (a county bordering London’s southeast), to Guildford rail station, takes a 30-mile train ride to Waterloo International, walks 1.5 miles along the spectacularly historic Thames River Path to London Bridge, cruises 10 minutes on an express boat down the Thames to Canary Wharf (once the busiest dock in the world and now one of London’s two busiest financial districts), and walks a few blocks to her office on the 21st floor of the gleaming, 21st-century-constructed One Churchill Place.
There, through the towering building’s vast paneled windows, Detroit-born Miller, the general counsel of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), quietly surveys the steadily developing 700-acre Olympic Park. Since her appointment in 2006, Miller has watched this once industrial, contaminated land in east London grow into a “big five” cluster of venues — the Olympic Stadium, Aquatics Center, Velodrome, Olympic Village, press center — that will host one-third of the XXX Olympiad’s events in 2012.
But Miller doesn’t gaze from the window for long. The games are less than two years away, and while Londoners may applaud construction milestones or grumble about the costs, Miller spends her days — and evenings and weekends — focusing on the mammoth legal task of making London 2012 happen.
The job involves managing a legal team of 25 — 10 of them from Freshfields, a global law firm and official legal services provider for the games — to offer advice on all aspects of LOCOG’s operations, including meeting the International Olympic Committee’s Host City Contract terms, implementing sponsorship and supply contracts — there are more than 7,000 — and protecting the London 2012 brand. When it comes to the games, there’s little that Miller’s team is not involved in.
“Our legal team is really integrated into the business,” says Miller, 59, between sips of coffee in a LOCOG meeting room, its door open wide to capture staff banter and panoramic views beyond the many desks. “There’s nothing in the games that’s not hugely interactive.”
It’s an autumnal Friday morning and, in Friday spirit, Miller is wearing jeans (and good walking shoes). Her grey hair is cut just above her shoulders, and when she talks, she is still, her countrified chapped hands cradling her mug, her minimally made-up brown eyes looking askance, and her American tone infected with British-isms and enunciated T’s, suggesting a long sojourn in England (22 years, to be precise; her British husband of 37 years, journalist Jonathan Miller, moved the family to London in 1988, and she was naturalized in 1996). “We have our base camp here, but most of the time, team members are out meeting with people from all other areas.”
Currently, that legal team is working with LOCOG human resources to recruit 70,000 volunteer “Gamesmakers” to help deliver the games.
“The HR team has responsibility for setting up the program,” explains Miller, “but worked with legal to make sure we covered issues like where we set the age that someone can volunteer. We wanted to encourage youth to apply, but volunteers under a certain age can’t work the same shifts as an adult, so we had to work through that.
“We also had issues around using ‘Gamesmakers’ as a title,” she continues. “There might be someone else who has the name ‘Gamesmakers,’ right? So we checked to make sure we could use it. We worked with the technology people to set up the online system. We had to ensure that the online structure allowed, in the best way possible, people with disabilities to use it, or that they could apply in other ways.”
Although her 5’2” frame exudes calm, Miller is acutely aware of the ticking clock. She mentions three times in 90 minutes that she needs to finalize most legal matters by the end of 2011.
“You can’t be doing huge deals two days before the games.”
Her priorities include liaising with the independent company producing the games’ opening and closing ceremonies to ensure that its policies, procedures and contracts are consistent with LOCOG’s; recruiting a ceremonies lawyer to deal with performing rights and talent negotiations; finalizing arrangements and contracts for third-party venues (65 percent of events will occur in commercial venues outside the Olympic Park, the highest percentage in recent games history); completing contracts for approximately 25 training venues; arranging the Olympic Park’s hand-over from the Olympic Delivery Authority, which has been building it; and detailing documentation about how LOCOG will use the Royal Parks, specifically Hyde and Greenwich parks and the Horse Guard’s Parade area.
Does that mean Miller will just kick back at games time, her job done?
Not exactly. Come 2012, Miller will oversee the management of each venue’s roaming brand protection team to control instances of infringement or ambush.
“If we need to take action such as getting an injunction to stop an infringement,” she explains, “Freshfields will have the additional support to take the case to court. We’re spending time now with Freshfields preparing legal action templates so that they can rush into court if necessary.
“Ad hoc issues might also arise, where we need to consider legal rights and obligations, like if equipment isn’t delivered the day before an event in the main stadium. How people deal with that is important because at games time everyone’s immediate reaction is ‘I don’t care! I’ll just call up whoever!’ to get a substitute. What you want to say is, ‘You have the right to get a substitute,’ and log it as a breach of contract, so that when the dust settles, you can make a claim.
“And there will be insurance-related issues. For example, among the first sports in 2012 is eventing [an equestrian sport], one of the most dangerous sports, so in addition to doing everything possible to make it as safe as we can we need to have protocols if something happens to the horses, to the riders. We need to have procedures in place, understand where we might have liability and have insurance to cover that.”
Learning about intellectual property, sports law and brand protection has challenged Miller, whose previous legal roles — as a partner and international general counsel of Goldman Sachs International in London, partner in the firm Kirkpatrick and Lockhart, and branch chief of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement division — had little to do with these areas.
“It’s been a huge education,” she says. “I didn’t really know the sports world except to the limited extent that I’m a competitor [she owns seven horses and regularly competes in eventing], but I didn’t really understand sports law or intellectual property. When we did the 8 1/2-minute handover ceremony [during Beijing 2008’s closing ceremony], we had to get rights to everything shown, sung or presented, plus organize all the contracts with our talent — David Beckham, Leona Lewis, Jimmy Page. We needed rights to new music. It was a lot of work, but it’s been amazingly interesting.”
As for protecting the London 2012 brand, LOCOG has all U.K. rights to the Olympic name, symbol, trademark — meaning any name containing “Olympic”, the rings, the Paralympics’ agitos symbol — until the end of 2012 and was obligated to expand U.K. laws of the 1940s and ’60s to protect Olympic and Paralympic symbols. The act passed in April 2006 for this purpose also enables LOCOG to protect against ambush — not the actual use of the rings, for instance, but marketing campaigns that refer to the games in a way that people might assume is official, yet isn’t.
“We do everything we can to educate the industry,” says Miller, who hasn’t yet gone to court with infringement or ambush cases because violators have backed down. “The team includes four brand protection specialists who work with the IP legal sector, tourism representatives, hotels, trade associations, to get out the message that you can do certain things but not others, and that we’re obliged to the IOC and our sponsors to act in ambush or infringement cases.”
LOCOG has also formed an anti-IP crime group with external partners, including the Metropolitan Police, to deal with such cases as well as with ticket scams and touting (scalping).
“We took many precautions around the 2012 emblem when it was announced in 2007,” Miller explains, “because while you can’t protect a number like 2-0-1-2, you can protect a distinctive shape and how it’s used.”
Striding past the Tate Modern (converted in 2000 from a disused power station) on her walk to London Bridge and then sailing through shiny, thriving Canary Wharf (transformed only 20 years ago from declining docks), Miller is reminded daily of the enduring power of regeneration and, therefore, of one of LOCOG’s central commitments: to revive long-neglected east London. Her daily walk has also made this much-lauded attorney (Legal Week’s General Counsel of the Year in 2006, The Lawyer’s Hot 100 in 2007, The Times Law 100 in 2008) acutely aware of accessibility issues that affect all of London and that the games can improve.
“You can’t really walk all along the river,” says Miller, who chairs the Accessibility and Inclusion Integration Group interagency forum, “because the walkway doesn’t continue around Clink Street. Buildings come up against the bank. And there’s no way to cross the river in an accessible way if you want to do a loop. You have problems if you’re able-bodied, but if you’re in a wheelchair, you have huge problems. You can’t go over cobblestones or over any bridge except the Millennium Bridge.
“We’re working with London’s mayor, among others, to develop a plan to make part of the river walk accessible — a huge benefit for people in wheelchairs, people with babies in pushchairs, and a small example of limited money having a big impact. If the river offers accessibility, numerous venues, like Greenwich, the Dome, ExCel, can be reached by boat. You can get the whole Brazilian wheelchair basketball team to the Paralympics in one big boat; otherwise, you’d need four specially equipped vans. It’s like when, two years ago, a mayoral disability office delivered ramps between piers and boats. I didn’t have to get hauled aboard by my elbows anymore, and people in wheelchairs could finally use the boats. Every day I bless the person who made that happen. That’s the kind of thing we can use the games to do because the games are happening on a particular day. We’ve got to do it now; we can’t just drift.”
As Miller talks about “using the power of the games to inspire change,” LOCOG’s tagline, her passion for making a difference is clear.
“We’ve committed that 10 percent of our volunteers will come from the Personal Best program,” she says, explaining how the program provides long-term unemployed people free training to qualify them to be 2012 volunteers.
“But because the program incorporates things like first-aid training, customer relations, event organizing, some people have gotten jobs already. That’s an example of creating opportunities for people who otherwise have no chance: because no one has ever employed them, no one will ever employ them. This puts them into an employment context, and that’s really important. If we miss this chance, it would really be a shame.”
Miller attests that her meticulously orchestrated daily journey to work — effectively spanning 50 miles, five centuries, four modes of transport — is “entirely for the purpose of getting some exercise,” but it illuminates a character that is disciplined, committed, patient and diligent. These attributes certainly have much to do with Miller’s journey from her childhood home in Detroit to one of London’s tallest buildings and most desirable legal jobs.
One of five children, with an accountant father and a stay-at-home mother, Miller recalls money being tight and starting part-time work at age 15.
“We were all expected to go to college,” she says, “but had to figure out how to get there, so I got a job at a library. I loved it. I loved reading and still do, and was one of those kids who’d come back from the library with a stack of books.”
Miller worked throughout her undergraduate years at University of Michigan at bookshops, libraries, even a sandwich joint called Mister Mini’s on Ann Arbor’s main drag.
“Aside from a couple of bad babysitting jobs, I’ve never had a job I hated,” Miller says. “But being the LOCOG’s general counsel is certainly one of the best legal jobs in the world. When I left Goldman Sachs, I had about 180 lawyers in Europe and Asia on my team who knew much more about their areas than I did, so I delegated a lot more. Here, I’ve been involved from the beginning, paralleling my 1989 career start at Goldman. It was essentially a start-up business in Europe and Asia — there were only two lawyers in London, I was the second in Europe and only the third outside the U.S. — which meant you did and set up everything. I really liked that. Coming to LOCOG meant coming back to a start-up.”
Paul Deighton, LOCOG chief executive and former COO of Goldman Sachs in Europe, worked closely with Miller at Goldman and encouraged her to try for the LOCOG role; 200 others also applied.
“Every time there was a problem at Goldman, I used to ask, ‘What does Terry think?’ and when I got to LOCOG, I didn’t want to change that,” Deighton says. “Terry has extremely good judgment about when it’s the right thing to be tough and when it’s the right strategy to seek a compromise. And like any good lawyer, she bases her good judgment on the facts. I particularly have a high regard for her sense of humor and how she develops her team.”
In 2009, law professor emeritus Dennis Turner met his former star pupil (Miller graduated first in her 1977 class) when he took 25 current students to England on a study abroad program. Miller spent two hours with the group.
“Students were awestruck by her demeanor and brilliance,” Turner recalls. “One student described her as ‘powerful without a hint of arrogance.’ Miller clearly promoted a team approach, even though it was clear from the respect of the other lawyers that she was very much in charge.”
Turner remembers the student Miller as having “a maturity and a wisdom that set her apart from others — she was very self-disciplined and had confidence and poise, qualities she still has today.”
Miller came to Dayton after graduating with a degree in English from Michigan and getting married. She wrote for the Kentucky Post and National Enquirer, where she reported, among other stories, about former Ohio Gov. James Gilligan’s alleged UFO sighting.
“It was not a career-enhancing move for him, but I made so much money out of that,” jokes Miller. “I did that and then went to law school because a law school was starting up at Dayton and I thought, ‘Why not?’ I had covered a big court case in Kentucky and, while watching the trial, thought, ‘I might like to do that.’”
“Terry has the deadly combo,” says former classmate Thomas Whelley ’77, now a partner at Dayton law firm Dinsmore & Shohl. “She’s incredibly bright and she works really hard. She was always prepared and worked really hard in law school. I didn’t know that her current position existed, but if you’d said she was in [Prime Minister David] Cameron’s cabinet, I wouldn’t have been at all surprised.”
Another Dayton peer, Judge Mary Donovan ’77 of the Second District Court of Appeals in Dayton, describes Miller as “an excellent writer with a keen intellect. She was focused, driven and enthusiastic — but in a very quiet way. Terry never sought the spotlight. She was also a very principled and kind person and, along with the few married women in class, helped look after crisis-stricken classmates.”
After Dayton — where she contributed to the School of Law’s newsletter and Law Review, served on the Law Review board, and clerked for a local judge — Miller got a job at the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, D.C.
“That was a fantastic job,” she remembers. “It was like being a reporter with subpoena power. The very first case I did involved Rev. [Sun Myung]Moon, whom I interviewed under oath, and I wasn’t even 30. It was a tremendous learning experience.”
After six years at the SEC, during which time she earned a master’s in law from Georgetown, Miller had a daughter (today a CNN producer in London) and a son (a writer/sculptor in Tel Aviv) and began working part time at Kirkpatrick and Lockhart, a firm she’d encountered in SEC cases. That position set her up to work in London after her husband took up a Times (of London) post there. Shortly after the trans-Atlantic move, Miller’s financial experience became highly desirable as London prepared for “the aftermath of big bang and the whole system of regulation,” and Goldman Sachs recruited her.
About juggling career and family, Miller speaks candidly: “You have to make decisions about your priorities, and for a chunk of my life my priority was family. I did ridiculous things. I’d go to work, come home, put the kids to bed and return to work. It helped that my husband often didn’t have to be in the office 9 to 5. After my kids grew up, work became my priority. Choices dictate your career path, so my career was an extended one — I made partner at Goldman in 2002 when I was 51. But that’s OK. It’s OK. I wouldn’t change that.
“I’ve been hugely lucky,” says Miller philosophically, adding that the 2012 Olympics are her last big adventure. After 2013, she’ll focus on riding (she wants to earn more qualifications for teaching it) as well as writing and traveling.
“I mean, to be part of the early days in Europe at Goldman Sachs — no one in 1989 would necessarily have said that Goldman would emerge as the premier investment bank in the world. And what could be luckier? I’ve been a huge sports fan my entire life and, when I was growing up in the U.S., the Olympics were this amazing event that happened only every four years. With the possible exception of snooker, there’s no sport I wouldn’t watch.
“So here you are, it’s your city, somebody you know is in charge, and you’re still vaguely compos mentis. Why wouldn’t you say, ‘Gee, I’ll throw my hat into the ring’? You would never pass up something like this. You just wouldn’t.”
Christine Fundak Rohan is a London-based writer whose work has appeared in university magazines across the U.S.