David E. Wheeler: Assistant General Counsel, Verizon

#BakersDozen is a series of interviews with leading professionals in the fields of law, consulting, finance, tech, and more.


EXCERPT

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be in (or a customer of) the legal business?

I was a philosophy major. It was the first time I had done something just because I loved it and not because it fit into a grand plan. Then one day as I neared graduation, I woke up and thought, “Uh, what am I going to do with a philosophy degree?” I didn’t want to earn a Ph.d. in philosophy, so I went to law school instead.

What do you do for a living right now?

I am an antitrust lawyer for Verizon, which gives me a great vantage point. People mistakenly think we debate the nuances of Supreme Court cases and economic theories all day. But for in-house lawyers, facts matter. I’ve spent my entire career learning about our business and industry. I have the rare opportunity to see across all of Verizon’s segments – wireless, wireline, IoT, digital advertising, consumer, enterprise, SMB, etc. – and understand how they knit together.

What has been your greatest triumph and your greatest success in the legal services field and what did you learn from each?

I don’t spend much time thinking about my triumphs and successes, and I try to be honest about what I should have done better even for projects that succeed. But I am proud of the careers of my direct reports. Many have been promoted. All have evolved into excellent attorneys, and their careers will ultimately outshine mine. I’m proud to be a part of that.