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Top 10 30-Somethings 2018: Shelly Paioff

Top Ten 30 Somethings
Update: The nomination deadline has been extended to Friday, December, 14.

ACC's Top 10 30-Somethings program is now accepting nominations. The program recognizes the world's best in-house counsel between the ages of 30 and 39. During the nomination period, will feature profiles of the 2018 honorees, who showcase the innovation, proactive approach to challenges, strong global perspective, in-house advocacy, and commitment to pro bono and community service that have been become hallmarks of the program. Visit our Top 30-Somethings nomination page for more information.

S helly Paioff never planned to move in-house, but she had promised herself that if she ever did, it would only be for the opportunity to build something from the ground up. In 2014, after 18 months of providing outside advertising counsel to Taboola — an Israeli startup known for the ubiquitous "You May Like" boxes under online articles by publishers from established media companies like NBC News to nascent Facebook marketers — the company requested that she lead the growing organization as its first legal hire.

Enticed by the highly commercial multi-disciplinary role, Paioff accepted, taking on a full gamut of responsibilities: namely building a legal department from nothing and earning the trust of the previously unchecked sales and business teams. Paioff quickly proved to be a true ally to the teams with quick feedback and a multi-faceted understanding of Taboola's business that encouraged sales teams to solicit her input and guidance on negotiations from day one. Indeed, in each of her first two years at Taboola, Paioff won the annual MVP award during Taboola's annual sales leadership awards ceremony.

In the last two years, Paioff spearheaded Taboola's global compliance efforts for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — a legal challenge that all global corporations had to address or otherwise risk extreme financial and reputational harm. In late 2016, Paioff first approached Taboola's executive board about the impending GDPR, the huge financial consequences of noncompliance, the potential business implications for Taboola, and the magnitude of the project for her small legal team.

She worked tirelessly to inform herself of all things related to European privacy, including a Certification as an Information Privacy Professional for Europe (CIPP/E), membership with European industry groups, attending international privacy conferences, and swiftly retaining a top data protection officer.

She also convinced the executives to seriously appreciate Taboola's obligations and potential liabilities, and she assembled an active GDPR task force with representatives from Taboola's legal, R&D, user data, security, business development, and HR teams. Together with the task force, Paioff approached GDPR as an opportunity for Taboola to differentiate itself from others in the adtech market, taking an innovative approach to not only ensure global compliance, but also to maintain Taboola's and its publisher partners' continued revenue.

As Taboola's business grew, personnel expansion skyrocketed. When Paioff first joined, there were approximately 150 employees globally; now, Paioff's seven-person legal team supports nearly 1,000 employees in 15 global offices, from New York and Bangkok to London and Tel Aviv.

Taboola isn't the only area where Paioff is managing growth. As the mother of two young children, with a third on the way, she creatively manages her work-life balance, while also contributing to her community. Paioff has spoken on many industry-group panels to lend an in-house perspective to attorneys in the advertising, privacy, and self-regulatory arenas. Furthermore, Paioff has co-chaired the JCC of Manhattan's 2017 and 2018 annual Holiday Fair fundraiser, and has spearheaded a team for Cycle for Survival that in the past two years has raised more than US$60,000 for rare cancer research.

Thanks in part to Shelly Paioff's contributions, Taboola, with its pervasive presence, is part of our information culture. And this incredible leader, both at Taboola and in the community at large, has indeed built a global, full-service legal department from the ground up.

More Top 10 30-Somethings of 2018

Sheila Bangalore

Christopher Y. Chan

Steve Gangemi

Mary Gritzmacher

Paul Lanois

Olga V. Mack

Julie Ryan

Diana Toman

Greg Wu

About the Author

Joshua H. Shields is the managing editor of the Association of Corporate Counsel.

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