Feminist lawyers have changed the world, but rarely has money been a focus of their work. Ann Olivarius' fruitful career has shown that the two need not be separate.
As a litigator, Olivarius has taken on some of the world’s most powerful, financially sophisticated and legally aggressive institutions – including Fortune 500 companies, the Catholic Church, Wall Street law firms, hedge funds and Ivy League universities – and prevailed, amassing multi-million dollar awards for clients who have suffered discrimination based on their race, sex, and religious identity. Her confidence in taking on and prevailing against deep-pocketed employers stems in part from her deep experience in the corporate world.
Although Olivarius may be more recently known as a lawyer challenging discrimination and inequality, she spent the early years of her career immersed in the financial industry and corporate law, which serve as strong foundations for her practice today.
In 1982, Olivarius worked on structuring the rules that established London as a global center for international arbitration. She joined Goldman Sachs as an associate in its Mergers and Acquisitions department in 1987, where John Thornton, then head of Goldman Sachs in Europe, awarded her the “Best in Finance” prize over several hundred other associates. Following this, Olivarius left to consult with Warner Brothers and U.S. News and World Report. Other work included cases involving international asset transfers and money laundering. As a legal and financial advisor to Perot Systems, a Fortune 500 company, she devised software licensing contracts that became industry standards. Her work designing and implementing the company’s corporate structure in Europe from 1988-1990 set the framework for its startling international growth, allowing it to employ more than 23,000 people worldwide and generating $2.8 billion revenue annually by the time Dell acquired the company for $3.9 billion in 1999.
In 1990-1992, Olivarius ran the corporate practice in the Washington, D.C. office of Shearman & Sterling. At Shearman & Sterling, Olivarius served as counsel to the government of Mexico in negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement
From 1992-1996, Olivarius acted as President, CEO, General Counsel and Executive Director of Scientific Programs at the Sarnoff Endowment for Cardiovascular Science, whose assets increased from $6 million to over $100 million in this period according to valuations by Hambrecht & Quist, an investment bank.
As a result of her business and legal acumen, some of the world’s most powerful figures have sought legal and financial advice from Olivarius, including Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher, and Queen Rania of Jordan. In 1999, Olivarius served as corporate advisor to Hambrecht & Quist CEO Dan Case, helping broker H&Q’s $1.35 billion sale to Chase Manhattan Bank. Olivarius prepared Bill Gates for the “road show” following Microsoft’s 1986 initial public offering. Daphne Park, Baroness of Monmouth, who had senior positions at MI6, consulted Olivarius on how to publicize her career in British intelligence and on matters before the House of Lords, particularly on Northern Ireland, the UN, and various peace initiatives.