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Karen Mayer: General Counsel of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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Ask any bookworm you can find, and he or she will tell you that Karen Mayer has a pretty cool job. As General Counsel of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., Mayer plays an integral part in getting books into the hands of readers all across the country. She is involved in negotiating author contracts, as well as dealing with issues pertaining to copyright law, trademarks, and liability. In addition, Mayer said she works on corporate matters such as labor and employment, real estate, and acquisitions.

Mayer, who is a member of Penguin's fully-staffed, five-attorney legal team, has worked for a number of other publishing companies in the past, including Simon & Schuster, Random House, and The Putnam Berkley Group. However, when Putnam Berkley merged with Penguin in 1996—a merger that Mayer said was one of the most gratifying things she's ever worked on—she became the general counsel for the combined companies.

This merger was "very labor intensive but also very rewarding," she said. Mayer was a key player in helping the acquisition move ahead because she "was able to answer questions that people had about the way the company was being run and the legal issues it faced," she said. "In the end, it was satisfying to see all the pieces fall into place."

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