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No one would have faulted Brandon Egren for walking away from a legal career. Graduating from law school in the depths of the economic recession, his entire incoming class at Dewey & LeBoeuf was deferred for more than a year due to a slowdown in work. When he was finally able to begin his career in private practice in early 2012, the venerable firm promptly imploded.
“It makes for an interesting conversation now,” Egren says, laughing. “But at the time, it felt like a defeat. I had been waiting so long to begin my law firm career, and when Dewey & LeBoeuf collapsed, it felt like it was over before it had even started.”
The current associate general counsel and assistant corporate secretary at Verizon now considers those tumultuous early years an asset, both because of the skill he was able to acquire navigating challenges and the practical and varied experience he was ultimately able to amass.
A De Facto Generalist
Despite being deferred, Egren was able to secure a secondment at an organization he had long admired: New York City’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Over the course of almost two years, he worked on a wide array of projects for the world-renowned organization.
Egren was unintentionally becoming an in-house generalist, reviewing artist and consultant contracts, advising on nonprofit law and governance, and handling intellectual property and real estate matters. “It wasn’t what I had planned or anticipated, but if I could do it over again, I wouldn’t do it any other way,” he reflects. “Lincoln Center was the perfect place to begin my career.”
But the lawyer knew he’d need law firm experience to reach his career goals. He would go on to build out a specialization in capital markets and securities law at Hogan Lovells in Washington, DC, and Jones Day in New York. Egren found public company advisory work at both firms incredibly rewarding, engaging in extensive research and solving issues that required creative thinking. He also gained international exposure, working closely with Jones Day’s international offices to advise overseas clients on US corporate and securities law.
Egren’s hectic early years turned out to be more valuable as he developed in his career. When he interviewed for an in-house corporate governance position with Verizon in 2017, the lawyer’s variety of experience, resilience, and flexibility impressed his future leadership team and landed him the job.
Proxy and Preparation
Since coming aboard as staff counsel, Egren has been promoted and seen his responsibilities increase meaningfully. His work includes overseeing subsidiary governance, stock ownership reporting, and insider trading compliance matters, but perhaps his most notable achievement has been his role in the preparation and execution of the telecom company’s annual proxy statement and shareholder meeting, a rigorous process that takes place over many months each year.
“As I’ve moved more into leadership roles, I’ve found that the work on the proxy statement really brings together many different layers of requirements and considerations,” he explains. “You have to comply with securities law disclosure, state corporate law, and stock exchange requirements, and an important goal is to effectively communicate information that a wide range of investors looks for in a proxy statement. This process also requires the skillful coordination of different teams, workstreams, and timelines.”
Egren has now navigated six proxy seasons at Verizon. However, just as he was finding his footing, Verizon’s 2020 annual shareholder meeting, the first meeting for which Egren led the drafting of the proxy statement, was upended by the onset of the pandemic. The in-person event that takes months to plan suddenly had to be moved online.
“Like most companies, we had to pivot on a dime,” he recalls. “Many time-tested aspects of the meeting had to be reimagined to adapt to the reality that everyone would be at home in front of their computer screens instead of interacting together in the same room.” Despite the challenging circumstances, Verizon’s first virtual shareholder meeting was a success.
It’s yet another case of Egren rolling with the punches. For lawyers earlier in their journeys, he has wise words. “Sometimes, unexpected turns in your career path can have surprisingly positive outcomes,” he says. “It can be extremely valuable to learn how to deal with upheaval. In this line of work, things are constantly changing, and I regularly find myself needing to jump in and simply draw upon my knowledge and perspectives to adapt quickly to challenging situations.”
It might be difficult today, but today’s seemingly insurmountable challenge may well become the source of tomorrow’s success.