| Name: Derek Squire
|Job Title: Vice President & Senior Deputy General Counsel, Comcast Corporation; General Counsel, Comcast Ventures
|Drinker Biddle practice and years: 1999 to 2004, Corporate & Securities
|Education: Dartmouth College, B.A, 1996; Harvard Law School, J.D., 1999
|Hobbies, Family, Civic Activities: Spending time with family, coaching his children’s sports teams, playing softball, skiing, reading
Derek Squire is Vice President and Senior Deputy General Counsel for Comcast Corporation. In this role, he handles acquisitions, divestitures, investments, joint ventures and other strategic corporate transactions for all Comcast business units, including Comcast Cable and NBCUniversal. Derek also serves as General Counsel of Comcast Ventures, Comcast’s venture capital arm, where he oversees all legal activities, including structuring and negotiating new investments and exit transactions, as well as working with management of Comcast Ventures’ portfolio companies on legal issues.
“When I joined Comcast in 2004, even though it was the largest cable company in the U.S. it was still primarily a domestic operation,” he said. “The biggest change in terms of my practice since then occurred with the NBCUniversal transaction in 2011, when Comcast became an international business overnight. My colleagues and I are now handling transactions all over the world and we’ve traveled to Europe, South America and Asia.”
Originally from Lower Merion, Penn., Derek left the state to attend Dartmouth College and went on to Harvard Law School. He decided to return to the greater Philadelphia area after law school and today he, his wife and their two children live in South Jersey. Derek started his legal career as a summer associate at Drinker Biddle in 1998 and joined the firm as an associate in 1999 as a member of the Corporate & Securities Group. At the firm, his practice focused on mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, private equity and venture capital investment transactions and general corporate work. Early in his career it was a boom time for venture capital investing across the country, he said, and he spent a fair bit of his time specializing in that area, which would prove invaluable experience years later when he was given the opportunity to take on the role of General Counsel at Comcast Ventures.
Comcast was, and still is, one of Drinker’s clients, and Derek worked on various Comcast matters during his time at the firm, including acquisitions and investments. The work he did for Comcast eventually led to his transition in-house in 2004, initially as a general corporate and transactional lawyer. The role was intriguing to Derek because it would allow him to continue to work on deals.
“There aren’t many in-house positions where you can be a full-time M&A lawyer,” he said.
What Derek enjoys most about his work at Comcast has been the breadth of transactions that he has handled, both in terms of the deal structures and the businesses involved. He said that Comcast is a very acquisitive company, which makes it an exciting place to work for a deal lawyer.
“At some level, a deal’s a deal,” he said, “but it’s still more interesting when you’re selling the ’76ers or buying NBCUniversal.”
It was his desire to further expand his practice at Comcast, coupled with his early years doing venture capital deals during the first dot.com bubble, that led Derek to take on his second role at Comcast, as General Counsel of Comcast’s venture capital arm, upon the closing of the NBCUniversal transaction in 2011.
Since that time, Comcast Ventures has grown considerably (under the stewardship of another Drinker alum, Amy Banse). As a global media and telecommunications company with many different businesses, the types of companies Comcast Ventures’ invests in are as diverse as Comcast itself, ranging from networking and cloud computing, enterprise software and advertising technology to digital media, virtual reality and e-commerce. The fund’s model is to operate as a financial investor but with a strategic focus. “I think whereas a lot of corporate venture arms operate like an R&D function to support their mothership, we aim to turn that model on its head and utilize our platform to support and grow our portfolio companies, which makes them more valuable for all shareholders,” he said.
In addition to his work at Comcast, Derek has volunteered with the Support Center for Child Advocates for more than 10 years and he joined their board of directors in 2015. The nonprofit works with victims of child abuse and neglect, utilizing a model whereby a volunteer lawyer is teamed with a social worker to represent children in the dependent court system.
“I was looking to do something that would be completely different from my day job and I certainly found that with the Support Center,” he said. “I had never been in court before going to family court as a child advocate, and it has been a very rewarding experience.”
Derek was also instrumental in establishing a pro bono program at Comcast, which launched at the start of 2016. He now serves as chair of Comcast’s pro bono committee, helping to promote pro bono work to others in the Comcast legal department.
When he reflects on his time at Drinker Biddle, Derek said it was a great place that fostered mentorship. Many partners were genuinely invested in training associates and encouraged people to ask questions and really understand the things they were working on.
“They are not skills you learn in law school, such as how to negotiate a deal [or] how to draft a transactional document,” he said. “It’s not intuitive stuff all the time and so I think the level of mentorship that Drinker provided was invaluable.”
And even more importantly, he said, the lawyers he worked with at Drinker were just great people. “I still count many of the people I met there as my friends.”