October 2, 2007  ·  Lessig

Creative Commons announced yesterday that we have hired a new General Counsel (and Vice President).

I can’t adequately describe the happiness (and relief) that announcement gave me.

The General Counsel is crucial to CC’s success. Virginia Rutledge is our third. We’ve had fantastic general counsels before her. And when each left, while I wished them luck in their new life (at Google), I felt as if the wind had been knocked out of me.

Our first had been the entrepreneur who founded the place. That quality couldn’t be replaced. But I was extremely happy when we found someone who could give us something else that we needed then. Like our first, this GC was brilliant and could write extremely well. But she was also a very experienced lawyer (she had practiced and had practiced in other jurisdictions), and she let that experience translate into a very strong will in guiding and protecting our most important asset — the legal brand.

When she left, I again had doubts we would find a replacement. But again, I am extremely happy to have my doubts proven wrong. Virginia, too, has the tough-lawyer experience that our last GC showed us was so critically important. But beyond that, she also had an extensive life in the community of artists and museums before she turned to the law. Of all the candidates we considered, none could match the breadth and significance of this experience.

From the press release:

“I applaud Creative Commons for its inspired choice of Virginia Rutledge as Vice President and General Counsel,” said copyright expert William Patry, Senior Copyright Counsel, Google Inc. “Virginia’s background in academia, the art world, and the white-shoe corporate law firm environment is unique. Her ability to forge consensus, her love of learning and commitment to the public interest will serve Creative Commons and the rest of us exceedingly well.”

“I commend Creative Commons for this excellent choice to help further the worthy purposes of the organization,” said patron of the arts Martin E. Segal. “Virginia’s commitment to the arts and her scholarly and practical background make her a wonderful addition.”

“Creative Commons couldn’t have made a better choice,” said Joel Wachs, President of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. “Virginia has deep knowledge of contemporary art practices and institutions, and the practical experience of working within a highly competitive corporate culture. She will do an excellent job of helping to build relationships between communities that have a common interest in promoting vibrant cultural production and exchange.

She will. And as I understand now, this is precisely what we now need.