as $500 billion annually. “NBC Universal has developed a team of lawyers and government relations
specialists focused on intellectual property protection,” Cotton said.
“The big challenge in large organizations is to
engage strategically with senior lawyers and to facili-
tate communication among lawyers and specialists
who may overlap,” he said. “So it’s a pretty steady
diet of meetings and conference calls, aimed at
focus and make sure you’re thinking about every
aspect of the problem, but also to be thinking stra-
tegically,” he said. “How can our organization change
to prevent legal problems before they arise?”
ROUTE TO THE TOP
Cotton earned his undergraduate degree in 1965
from Harvard College, where he majored in political
science, economics and anthropology, with a focus
How can our organization change to prevent legal
problems before they arise?”
and libel issues, arguing cases at trial and on appeal
in federal and state courts.
From 1987 to 1989, Cotton was president and
chief executive officer of the Washington-based
management company HCX Inc. He then became
executive vice president and general counsel at NBC.
In 2000, he headed for London, where he became
president and managing director of business channel
CNBC Europe. He helped expand the unit’s reach to
85 million homes and establish programming relationships in Europe, Turkey, Russia and the Middle
East. Cotton was named general counsel of NBC
Universal when the company was formed.
making sure we’re moving forward and that there’s
real communication across the legal organization.”
Cotton has served since January 2007 as chairman
of the Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy,
a joint project of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
and the National Association of Manufacturers.
The organization, which speaks for some 500 companies, lobbies Congress and cooperates with the
U.S. Department of Justice, FBI and Department of
Homeland Security in enforcing intellectual property
Cotton said he has no immediate plans to retire, but
offered some advice to his eventual successor:
“Things come at you so fast that you need to really
on city politics. He earned his J.D. from Yale Law
School in 1969. He then served as clerk to Judge
J. Skelly Wright of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
for the District of Columbia in 1969 and 1970, and
to U.S. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan
Jr. in 1970 and 1971.
Born in Washington, Cotton has been “a political junkie and news junkie forever.” He worked for
Newsweek for a while between his bachelor’s degree
and law school. Outside of work, Cotton is a self-described “passionate tennis player,” who enjoys
hiking and travel. He also likes spending time with
his children, Rachel and Jon.
A BOOK AND MOVIE
Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin, and The
Lives of Others.
An earlier version of this profile appeared in The
National Law Journal on April 14, 2008.