Paul Dacier is one of the rare general counsel who somehow managed to avoid doing any significant time at a law firm before going in-house.
After graduating from Marquette University's law school in 1983, Dacier, the executive vice president and general counsel of EMC Corp., a data-storage solutions provider, spent a year at a small law firm outside Milwaukee working mostly on litigation. But Dacier was as interested in business as he was in law and, in 1984, took a job as a staff lawyer at Apollo Computer Inc.
Q. What was the state of the company's legal affairs at that point?
A. From a legal standpoint, EMC was pretty unsophisticated. But they were doing the right thing. They were putting all their efforts into building market share. But when the company grew really quickly, competitors started suing the company for patent infringement. It became evident that we needed to build our patent portfolio so we could level the playing field.
Q. What's the toughest part of your job?
A. We are clearly overregulated in today's environment. So the challenge I face on a daily basis is giving the board and management the right advice so they can run the business.