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Shark Week: Who's the Head Shark in Discovery's Legal Department?

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on July 07, 2015 12:59 PM

Happy Shark Week, in-house counsel! As Discovery celebrates sharks for the 28th year, we at FindLaw are highlighting the sharks in the legal profession. This topic raises the question: who's the head shark of Discovery's legal team? Meet Bruce Campbell, General Counsel and Chief Development Officer at Discovery Communications.

Campbell has been Discovery's GC since 2010 and has seen everything from the creation of the classic film "Sharknado" to the channel's partnership with Oprah Winfrey. We're sure he's seen his share of shark-bite related matters as well.

Skilled Negotiator

Like the much maligned great white shark, attorneys are often painted as ruthless man-eaters. But in-house counsel know that you can often advance your company's interests without all the bloodletting. Indeed, skilled deal making can be a much more sharky move. No one represents that more than Campbell, who has focused his career on negotiation and business development.

Campbell has long been more interested in negation than litigation, he told The Washington Post after becoming Discovery's GC. He was drawn to "working directly with companies to build deals that were going to help them grow." Of course, getting the best deal requires a bit of a killer instinct as well, though it may be less bloody than corporate litigation.

Media companies, like sharks, need to keep moving or they'll die. As GC and Chief Development Officer, Campbell has been behind plenty of deals, including Discovery's $1.7 billion acquisition of SBS Nordic, a Scandinavian media company, and Discovery's joint venture with Oprah Winfrey. His bite hasn't been limited just to the television market, either. As GC, Campbell has overseen Discovery's acquisition of TreeHugger.com and HowStuffWorks.com, fitting matches for an environmentally-minded, education-focused media company.

From Minnow to Shark

Campbell cut his teeth, so to speak, as an associate for O'Melveny and Myers before deciding he wanted to go in-house. Campbell took an entry-level position at NBC which was heavily focused on deal making. Things went ... swimmingly. He was involved in many of NBC's major acquisitions, including their purchase of Telemundo and Vivendi and negotiated their entry into online streaming.

Campbell credits that time at NBC with exposing him to the deeper side of business development. Working in-house at NBC let him learn about financial analytics, business development, and digital media. When he splashed over to Discovery, he was able to apply both his legal background and business development experience in his joint role as both GC and CDO.

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