For as long as he can remember, Erick Rivero has been a performer. He spent his childhood in musical theater and excelled at playing the trombone, oboe, bassoon, and piano. He further developed his stage presence through his experiences in choir, band, and orchestra. Rivero’s childhood experiences directly influenced his future career—but not in the way most would expect.
His passion for music and performance as well as a natural sense of creativity led him not to a role as a professional musician or actor but to the law, a profession that (on the surface) seems to be as far from the arts as possible.
“I saw lawyers on television in court, and the creativity that they were scripted to convey really resonated with the performer in me,” remembers Rivero, who currently serves as assistant general counsel for corporate securities and mergers and acquisitions at Silicon Valley-based Intuit. “That’s how I, in my mind, chartered this course of wanting to be a lawyer before actually really knowing what it meant.”
A passion for writing, storytelling, and solving puzzles would make him believe that he was meant to practice litigation, but it wasn’t until the end of Rivero’s first experience as a summer associate at Winston & Strawn LLP that he realized his true calling.
“I was talking to one of my summer program partner mentors for what must have been one or even two hours, and he walked through all of the experiences that I had and discussed what I liked from those experiences,” Rivero recalls. “He gave me what was probably the best advice that I received. He said, ‘It sounds like you want to be a transactional lawyer.’”
This feedback would guide the entire trajectory for Rivero’s career. Following his graduation from Hofstra Law, he joined his mentor’s practice group and spent nearly a dozen years honing his craft at the firm’s New York City office.
In 2019, Rivero joined Intuit’s corporate securities and M&A group, bringing along many lessons from his private practice days. In this role, he drives governance and reporting across the organization. “This includes SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] reporting, communications with our investors, our compensation and benefits program, ESG [environmental, social, and governance] and corporate responsibility, and our political accountability practices,” he explains. “Really, almost anything that touches our board of directors or any of our investors is under the umbrella of things that I do.”
The transition proved to be, as Rivero says with a chuckle, “huge.”
“When you’re an attorney at a law firm, your practice is a primary business driver,” Rivero says. “It’s different when you’re working in-house at a company. You are part of a team that helps to enable the strategy of the business. There’s just a different way that the perspective you have is valued and there’s definitely a learning curve.”
However, that shift in mindset instilled a new sense of professional confidence in Rivero. “You do a lot of building when in-house,” he notes. “You build processes, you build relationships, and you help to build the reputation of the company.”
Rivero estimates about 95 percent of his time is spent collaborating across Intuit’s organization, not just within the legal department. One of Rivero’s current priorities is fleshing out the concept of stakeholder empathy. “I’ve been trying to shift the idea of stakeholder empathy from what some folks may see as a soft skill to a business skill that we can teach and measure,” he says.
Alongside his team, Rivero is creating a framework around several critical areas. These include leading with inquiry, asking the right questions, and understanding stakeholders and their problems from the very beginning. This allows faster response rates and the development of trust with all key stakeholders.
“In a year from now, I would like to be able to say that we’ve done the alpha version of that,” Rivero says. “We have a curriculum, we’ve taught it to folks at our organization, and we see folks using that in their everyday practice, and that’s creating even greater impact and better results for the company.”
Out-of-the-box thinking has come naturally for Rivero throughout his legal career and has contributed to his success.
“I have worked with Erick for over three years and admire the thoughtful and collegial way he looks for opportunities to reframe, streamline, and improve on the conventional way of approaching legal issues ranging from board self-evaluations to transaction closings to addressing the evolving requirements for disclosure of ESG practices,” says Gordy Davidson, partner at Fenwick & West LLP.
In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities at Intuit, Rivero is focused on providing mentorship to up-and-coming attorneys. Reflecting on the importance of his own mentor, who shaped the course of his career, Rivero takes his role as mentor very seriously. Currently, he works with the Law in Technology Diversity Collaborative, a unique legal internship program where first-year law students can split their summers between leading technology companies and law firms in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Boston. Rivero guides students in the program from the initial interview process through their internships and beyond.
“The goal of this program is to increase the population of lawyers that are from historically underrepresented communities, especially in legal leadership roles,” he says. “We focus on creating opportunities for folks who are Black, Latinx, LGBTQ+, women, Indigenous, disabled, and first-generation law students.”
While he may no longer be performing under the bright lights of his high school’s auditorium, Rivero has found a place to exercise his natural creativity at one of the fastest growing global tech companies.
Editor’s note: At the time of press, Erick Rivero was promoted to senior assistant general counsel
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP:
“As assistant general counsel for Intuit, Erick has an excellent grasp of complex securities and corporate law issues. His expertise, coupled with his practical and business-oriented approach, make him a real pleasure to work with.”
–Lori Zyskowski, Partner