GC POWERLIST – US RISING STARS
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GC Powerlist > US Rising Stars 2014
The Legal 500 by country
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To compile this list, we asked leading US private practice and in-house lawyers to nominate the “rising stars” amongst the nation’s corporate counsel. We also reached out to lawyers who have made headlines for ground-breaking work in their relevant industries, to be considered for the list. As well as interviewing candidates themselves, we obtained feedback from peers, where appropriate. ...read more
A “rising star”, for the purposes of this publication, is somebody who could “do more, given the chance”. This includes lawyers in more junior positions, as well as those who have only recently reached GC-level, or who act in standalone roles or head less established legal functions. We did not impose any restrictions regarding age or years of experience. Some of the final 100 were partners at leading firms before moving in-house; in other cases lawyers at the very beginning of their legal careers have achieved a great deal in a short space of time.
As in the case of the original US top 100, we are highlighting individuals who have been pivotal in changing or forming opinions within their company or industry; have excelled technically; have created innovative structures to ensure the in-house function is driving the business forward; or have provided a business working model that other corporate counsel should follow.
|David Burgess||Alexander Boyes|
(listed in alphabetical order; click on an individual to view an expanded biography)
Vice president and general counsel
Cobham Corporate North America
Associate general counsel
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Chief legal officer and general counsel
Vice president and chief counsel, labor and employment
Assistant general counsel, senior counsel specialist – litigation
General counsel and chief compliance officer
Circle Internet Financial
Managing director, general counsel and chief compliance officer
GSO Capital Partners
Chief legal officer
Assistant general counsel
General counsel and secretary
Silver Bay Realty Trust Corp
General counsel/risk manager
Straub Construction, Inc.
Vice president and senior legal counsel – corporate litigation
HSBC North America
Assistant general counsel
Dow Jones & Company
Assistant general counsel
Assistant general counsel and corporate secretary
Johnson & Johnson
Diana Clift Cebrick
SVP and counsel, North American credit card and merchant services
Vice president, chief M&A counsel
Senior litigation counsel
Air Liquide Global E&C Solutions
Global litigation counsel
Senior director, IP counsel
Vice president-legal, West region
Balfour Beatty Construction
General counsel and chief legal officer
Assistant general counsel
General counsel for North America generation businesses
The AES Corporation
SVP, group GC - corporate and governance, and corporate secretary
The Travelers Company
Vice president and associate general counsel
HP Enterprise Services
General counsel and corporate secretary
Cosentino North America
Assistant general counsel – litigation
Oaktree Capital Management
Seattle Art Musuem/ Seattle Symphony Orchestra
Vice president and deputy general counsel
Vice president of legal and government affairs
San Francisco 49ers
Senior vice president, corporate development and chief counsel – corporate
Vice president and deputy general counsel
Divisional vice president, associate general counsel, litigation
Divisional vice president, commercial litigation
Chief employment counsel
Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc.
Director of litigation
Air Liquide USA
Executive vice president and chief legal officer
Associate general counsel
Chief administrative officer and general counsel
Deputy general counsel and chief regulatory officer
Bank of Montreal
Associate legal director
Vice president and senior counsel
Marriott Vacations Worldwide
Senior vice president, associate general counsel and assistant secretary
Vice president, corporate counsel
Director, IP and litigation
John C Lynch
Vice president and intellectual property counsel
Kate Spade & Company
Senior managing counsel, med-surg
Boston Scientific Corporation
Vice president, deputy general counsel and secretary
Booz Allen Hamilton
VP and counsel, commercial engines
Pratt & Whitney
Vice president and associate general counsel
Abercrombie & Fitch
Lead counsel for mobile/android patent strategy
Vice president and general counsel
Director and senior counsel, regulatory affairs
Deputy general counsel and vice president
Vice president, legal – corporate transactions and securities
Chief legal officer BT Americas
Assistant general counsel
Managing and chief bank regulatory counsel
Assistant general counsel, chief compliance officer
Tallgrass Energy Partners, LP
Senior counsel – compliance
Senior vice president and deputy general counsel
Associate general counsel/litigation
Assistant general counsel
Vice president, associate general counsel – labor and employment
Senior director and associate counsel
Tishman Speyer Properties
Corporate counsel and assistant secretary
The Allstate Corporation
Managing director and associate general counsel
American Airlines & US Airways
Technology and litigation counsel
Competitive Carriers Association
Managing director and associate general counsel
Oaktree Capital Management
Assistant general counsel
Associate general counsel
Associate general counsel
Assistant general counsel mergers and acquisitions
Archer Daniels Midland
Assistant General Counsel
Associate general counsel
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Vice president, associate general counsel
World Fuel Services
Vice president, general counsel and corporate security
General counsel and SVP of people (SVP of HR)
Vice president and associate general counsel – trademark
Abercrombie & Fitch
Vice president, chief counsel corporate
Stephanie Zapata Moore
Vice president and general counsel
One of the industry’s fastest growing crop insurers, ProAg takes the unique approach of solely servicing agents and farmers. A ‘thought leader’ and rare national ‘specialist’ in this highly-regulated field, Grant Adams has handled considerable change and growth at ProAg, since becoming its first general counsel in 2007. The company’s premium value tripled during his first two years, requiring Adams to develop a legal function capable of handling the diverse issues this created. ‘Grant faced a number of significant challenges,’ says one private practice source. ‘Not the least of which was building a legal department from the ground up in a way that engendered trust and co-operation from his internal clients and management’. Adams speaks regularly at industry events.
As the sole in-house lawyer supporting aerospace and defense specialist Cobham’s North American business, Bruce Almquist says it is his ability to continually reinvent himself which sets him apart. This manifested itself first of all when he left private practice to become an outsourcing lawyer at Electronic Data Systems (EDS). When Almquist joined Cobhams in what was primarily a compliance role, his first task was establishing a compliance program for contracting with the US Government. In time, his remit broadened to include a full spectrum of legal work, including investigations, M&A and employment, culminating in his promotion to become the region’s first GC. Moving from a specialist to a generalist legal role of this kind, he says, has been both rewarding and a steep learning curve. ‘The transition is still underway, and I’m not going to hold myself out as an expert in all of those areas, but over the years I have obtained a lot more knowledge so that I can spot issues and do some triage.’ Praised for his work ethic, Almquist ‘cares deeply about quality, efficiency and decency’, according to Michael Feldberg of Allen & Overy LLP, who adds: ‘As one of a small handful of lawyers responsible for the legal function of a multi-billion dollar company in a complex industry, Bruce has to deal daily with an incredible variety of legal issues’. Almquist was also nominated for the company’s ‘Senior Development Program’; the 18-month scheme, which he is currently completing, is intended to develop individuals in senior positions at Cobham. During his time at EDS, Almquist helped to organize the business’s European legal support to help establish a global function. When asked what law firms could improve upon, Almquist suggests not only ‘cost-efficiency’, but also ‘getting to the point quickly’. ‘Options are good to know, but I also need them to step up and make a recommendation on what I should do or the business should do’.
‘An amazing hard worker’ who ‘keeps an eye on the big picture’, Ruth Atherton is valued not only for her highly technical skill-set but for her energy and commitment to The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s cause. ‘The leadership team is just phenomenal,’ she says. ‘Everyone truly cares about the mission of the foundation’. Atherton’s drive and passion to make a difference were already manifested when she founded her own charity, Raising the Blues, in 2008. The organization promotes music therapy for children with physical, emotional and educational challenges. A former scientist, Atherton handled patent litigation in private practice before moving in-house to biotechnology company Genzyme, which develops treatment for rare genetic and life-threatening conditions. It was here Atherton developed her ‘unique’ focus on pharmaceutical manufacturing, which she took to the Foundation in 2012, to support its broadening efforts to promote ‘global access’ to medical treatment. Here Atherton focuses on the entire supply chain, ensuring products are affordable and accessible to their intended recipients. Inevitably, her work covers a variety of jurisdictions. ‘One of the challenges at the foundation is the tremendous number of venues – the foundation supports work in over 100 countries,’ Atherton explains. ‘We’re helping to mitigate risk and that’s more challenging when you’re taking a truly worldwide perspective’. The foundation, she adds, has become more sophisticated over the years, and she supports a wide variety of teams. ‘The foundation always thinks about how we can create the biggest impact with our funds. It’s a very collaborative environment and that’s intentional’.
GitHub Inc. is the world’s largest repository of open source software and ‘the de facto platform for collaborating on open source software development and code’. It has attracted a large following from non-technical specialists sharing and collaborating on projects and documents across a broad range of industries. As GitHub’s first general counsel, Julio Avalos already has a strong voice within the industry, particularly regarding the information-sharing technology’s application in the legal sector. ‘Julio is committed to making the practice of law more human, transparent, and collaborative,’ says one source. Leading a growing team, he has applied the innovative open-source dynamics to Github’s own legal function, as a means of sharing information internally and externally. Avalos was previously corporate counsel at Yelp, and before that practiced at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, where he was involved with early Facebook litigation.
Having worked with plaintiffs and as an administrative law judge, Norma Barnes-Euresti’s decision to join Kellogg’s as head of its labor and employment function was not the most obvious career move. ‘The common denominator for when I was on the plaintiff and the judge’s side is that the bad thing had actually happened,’ Barnes-Euresti says. ‘But assuming that somebody has actually been wronged, all you can offer is money – you can’t restore somebody’s dignity. What I find on the defense side of things is the story hasn’t happened yet, so you’re in a unique position to decide that whatever happens, it is going to be fair’. In that vein, Barnes-Euresti says her biggest achievements at Kellogg’s are the things that didn’t happen. She and her team take an active role in policy decisions, keeping a close eye on company-wide trends, to ensure issues are less likely to arise in the first place. Directly managing 15 people across Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific, Barnes-Euresti is quick to emphasize the strong team approach to decision-making and daily operations. ‘I have an employment specialist in each region and we drive the policy work as a group to make sure people get consistent treatment throughout the world’. Barnes-Euresti is particularly praised for her championing of corporate diversity. She was the first executive sponsor for the company’s LGTB group ‘K-Pride & Allies’, and worked alongside co-chairs in its establishment. Barnes-Euresti has been ‘at the forefront of the corporate defense strategy to donning and doffing claims’ through her role in Franklin vs Kellogg. Her other major recent work highlights include Kellogg's legal defense to union workers’ lockout in its Memphis TN plant. In her view, outside counsel do not always appreciate the tight budgetary frameworks in-house legal teams are working to and should be prepared to agree to more flexible arrangements, such as exclusive retainers or fixed fees. ‘Hourly-fee arrangements really don’t work anymore’.
Overseeing litigation teams across multiple jurisdictions, Mary-Alice Barrett has drawn particular notice through her handling of one of the US’s largest mass-tort cases. Comprising nearly 8,000 individual cases and several alleged class actions, the matter has been ongoing for 15 years; six of them on Barrett’s watch. Under her leadership, there have been several positive outcomes for Roche, including its first verdict in favor and a series of successful appeals. Because of the sheer scale of proceedings involved, one of Barrett’s most crucial contributions to the situation’s ongoing resolution has been developing an efficient system for managing the multi-firm defense teams, through ‘innovative’ initiatives such as a ‘virtual firm’ model, ensuring effective collaboration and information-sharing between all parties involved. ‘A number of my peers have used a “virtual firm” model – but I think ours is among the most dynamic and successful,’ Barrett says, ‘in part because it is not as formally hierarchical as some others (each firm has direct access to me), in part because we’re willing to break down the strict (and conventional) “firm-by-firm” organizational model’. According to one private practice source, ‘These efforts have resulted in remarkable degrees of collaboration, interdependence, and collegiality among her firms while also allowing for many of the efficiencies the model typifies’. Barrett is also active in developing the careers of junior team members through a ‘rewards and recognition program’. Her remit includes governmental investigations, commercial, environmental and employment issues; Roche also encourages her to broaden her non-contentious expertise, she explains, as a way of furthering her professional development.
A Digital Asset Transfer Agency (DATA) board member and the first general counsel of BitCoin’s creator Circle Internet Financial, John Beccia is a key figure in the world’s burgeoning digital currency market. Prior to joining Circle, he had a strong involvement in regulatory, compliance and anti-money laundering concerns within the financial services industry. His past employers include Boston Private Financial Holdings, and The Financial Services Round Table, a top 100 financial services trade association, where he was chief regulatory counsel. He also teaches a law course on banking structure and regulation at Boston University.
Handling legal and compliance functions for one of the largest debt investment funds in the US market, Marissa Beeney has been active in new business initiatives for GSO Capital’s fund structurings. ‘In my experience she brings experience, creativity and commercialism to the process and is a true role model for women in the legal private equity industry,’ says Erica Berthou 52648 at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. ‘She is also very hardworking. Marisa will certainly be a name to watch in the years to come’. Before joining the fund, Beeney worked at DLA Piper 53884, and prior to that, she handled project finance and development transactions at Latham & Watkins LLP.
‘Anne is single-handedly building Summit’s legal department from scratch,’ says one private practice source, adding: ‘We consider her to be a rising star in the legal profession’. Summit Materials is a leading heavy building materials company, based in Denver, Colorado. In its first five years, Summit completed more than 28 acquisitions forming nine operating companies across 17 states, with its combined executed transactions value to date exceeding $1.5bn. During her short time in the role, ‘thoughtful, grounded, practical and very approachable counselor’ Anne Benedict has promoted corporate responsibility, by establishing a committee which works alongside the business community, to undertake voluntary and charitable work. As the company’s first and only in-house lawyer, Benedict leads legal and compliance functions across all nine of the company’s management teams.
Danielle Bernthal has been working on world-leading amusement park corporation Six Flags’ international brand expansion. ‘It is a very exciting time for the company and being integrally involved every step of the way has been both challenging and very rewarding,’ she says. Bernthal was previously an associate at Wilkie Farr & Gallagher.
High-profile public law specialist Katie Biber is well known for her involvement in US Government and politics. She was general counsel for Romney’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, and in 2004 worked in the general counsel’s office for Bush-Cheney’s re-election campaign. She also has significant experience in advising clients on US Congress investigations. In her role at global accommodation website Airbnb, she has a strong involvement in policy and government relations. Her other work includes marketing, consumer protection, and non-profit establishment and compliance.
Having reached GC-level just two years after moving in-house, Daniel Buechler has, in the words of one source ‘seamlessly made the transition’. He initially joined Silver Bay’s external investment manager, Pine River Capital Management, in 2012, during the preparations for Silver Bay’s complex IPO, which Buechler played a crucial role in. This involved a partial spin-off from a publicly-traded mortgage REIT, and the acquisition of five real estate portfolios.
Less than a year into his in-house career, Richard Calame was seconded to act as general counsel at Raytheon-owned Flight Options during its complex share divestiture from 2006 to 2007. As well as managing day-to-day legal operations during this time, Calame is praised highly by Steven Browne of Bingham McCutchen LLP for his role in ‘shepherding’ the business through the sale. ‘We had to make assessments of how we translate normal policies to a different situation and different culture,’ Calame says on the challenges of the role, adding: ‘I was wearing two hats’. Coming from a primarily M&A background, Calame reached partner-level at Sullivan & Worcester, before moving to major defense contractor Raytheon in 2005. ‘It was primarily the ability to be closer to the business and strategy considerations for transactions,’ he says on the appeals of moving in-house. ‘I had been doing mostly M&A for about 10 years and it had always been a feeling there was a bit missing’. His experience of outside counsel has generally been positive, though he says an area for improvement is ‘wiser’ use of associates, in the interests of saving costs for clients.
‘An outstanding general counsel’, Kyle Campbell is praised for his understanding of federal construction and the significant cost savings he has made to Straub since his arrival in 2008. As the company’s first in-house lawyer and a member of its executive committee, Campbell was required to provide centralized legal and risk support and promote a more consistent approach. One of his biggest achievements in-house, Campbell says, has been his role in negotiating several joint venture and teaming agreements, which he explains, ‘have expanded Straub’s ability to successfully compete in new segments of the federal construction market and on projects of greater size, complexity and scope’. As far as law firms go, he says he would sometimes like ‘more definitive advice’. ‘I know the outside counsel we retain are experts in their fields,’ he adds. ‘But not being insiders to the company, they seem to hold back from providing direction at times’.
HSBC North America is one of the US’s largest bank holding businesses, with services including retail banking and wealth management, mortgages, credit cards, insurance products and global markets. Leading a ‘talented and loyal internal team’, the ‘approachable and insightful’ Kristin Cantu focuses primarily on consumer mortgage lending litigation. ‘Kristin is supremely smart and direct,’ says Valerie Hletko of BuckleySandler LLP. ‘She gives outside counsel a great deal of matter ownership, but is effortlessly fluent in the facts and in very complex legal issues, providing defining direction in strategy discussions or on draft briefs’. Prior to joining HSBC, Cantu practiced at McDermott Will & Emery LLP 52047.
Kevin Chapman works in a three-strong team, handling all labor and employment law functions at global news provider Dow Jones, whose operations spanning more than 50 countries. ‘I have the opportunity to work with virtually every business unit in the company, both in the US and around the world,’ Chapman says. ‘The diversity of my matters is amazing’. During his time at the company, he has taken an active role in the modernization of its operational practices across multiple jurisdictions, in line with decade-plus changes to the newspaper business. ‘Our printing plant practices are now the model for the rest of the industry,’ Chapman says. He has worked towards managing outside counsel costs by promoting a centralized, global instruction system, and introducing e-billing. On the former point, he explains, getting both HR and business buy-in ‘was a huge challenge’. Cost-awareness and better communication with clients are areas law firms could improve upon, he feels. Chapman is an adjunct legal writing professor at New York Law School. Outside the legal world, he published his first novel Identity Crisis in 2003 and is an award-winning short story writer.
‘A hard working and able attorney,’ Kamil Chaudhary joined online content manager Alfresco as assistant general counsel in 2014, after less than two years in-house. In his previous role at publicly-traded online marketing company QuinStreet, he served as product counsel to business and engineering teams on privacy, telemarketing and email marketing law and other regulatory issues. He also handled direct corporate governance matters for company subsidiaries and trained new recruits on the company’s legal policies. He previously specialized in consumer internet, software-as-a-service, e-commerce and mobile spaces at Goodwin Procter LLP.
‘Being, in the same room, both spectator and participant in corporate decision-making at the highest level gives me a unique window,’ says Douglas Chia, assistant general counsel and corporate secretary at Johnson & Johnson. ‘These are things the public will never see’. Chia is praised highly by his peers not only for his intelligence and technical ability, but for his strong interpersonal skills. ‘The biggest achievement for me has really been building relationships within Johnson & Johnson and then also externally with my counterparts at other companies,’ he says. Chia also takes an active role in thought leadership, as current board of directors’ chair for the Society of Corporate Secretaries & Governance Officials and former president of the Stakeholder Relations Society of New York. Having moved in-house relatively early in his legal career, he says he was always very conscious of the need to add value. ‘I have been very cognizant of the fact that you’re always going to be the youngest person in the room and you don’t want to be perceived in that way’. Since joining Johnson & Johnson he has helped to implement a centralized database for all the company’s worldwide legal entities and move its board of directors towards a more paperless environment. He has spent almost 10 years at Johnson & Johnson, and previously worked as assistant general counsel for Tyco International. ‘I expect great things from Doug in the years to come,’ says one professional associate.
‘She excels at making complicated projects simple and finding the art of the possible,’ BuckleySandler LLP's Manley Williams says of Diana Clift Cebrick. ‘Business people love to work with her because she is honest, direct, and understands the operational constraints. When she finds a problem, she doesn’t run from it, nor does she create an unworkable solution, instead she finds a way to get things done, on time, and at a reasonable cost’. ‘A dynamic leader’, Cebrick has a long history within consumer credit, having previously led compliance at Barclaycard US and worked at MBNA America Bank (now Bank of America). In her current role at TD Bank, she is responsible for negotiating and drafting purchase and sale, joint marketing agreements, and other contract matters for TD Bank’s credit card business lines. Cebrick has been a guest lecturer at the University of Delaware’s Legal Studies Program.
As general counsel of $4bn investment manager TPG Growth, Matthew Coleman heads a small legal team. ‘The biggest challenge I have faced is the global nature of our business,’ he says. ‘No two transactions are the same, and when you add in the complexity of investing in and owning companies on five continents, the issues increase exponentially’. He adds: ‘It's both the biggest challenge I face and the most interesting part of my job’. Coleman has already drawn considerable praise for his handling of these pressures. ‘Matt does an amazing job leading the legal work associated with the global investment strategy of TPG Growth,’ says Kevin Schmidt at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. ‘The diversity of transactions on his plate – from minority investments in far-off countries to control investments in the US – requires an impressive range of substantive legal knowledge, wise judgement, commercial savvy and boundless energy. Matt delivers these qualities to his organization and his business colleagues in abundance’. The lean nature of TPG’s legal function requires complex and integrated systems, including an extensive network of outside counsel, and during his two years as general counsel, Coleman has built up in his words ‘a legal operation and ecosystem that provides high quality, efficient legal coverage’ for the global business. These have included building a global advisor network to support transactions across the US, Europe and Asia Pacific and monitor the Group’s entire portfolio. He has also developed a transaction manual and implemented a D&O insurance policy for all portfolio companies. With TPG’s heavy reliance on outside counsel, Coleman has firm expectations of the lawyers he hires. ‘I am really pushing our law firms to be problem solvers,’ he says. ‘We pay our firms for top-notch advice, not just and manpower and issue spotting’.
‘John has continued his development as a premier defense and aerospace M&A attorney,’ says Thomas Monson at Jenner & Block LLP. With an exceptional track record in defense and aerospace transactions, Cox has been active in helping Northrop Grumman expand in Australia. He is particularly praised for his work on the acquisitions of cybersecurity provider MS Network Security Qantas’ defense services division in the jurisdiction. Cox previously worked for General Dynamics and Honeywell. He is particularly praised for his ‘practical’ and solutions-focused approach.
One of the world’s most ubiquitous brands, Apple is no stranger to controversy, with frequent questions raised on issues of privacy, and allegations of monopolistic behaviour from competitors. Operating at the forefront of technological development within a global legal framework that struggles to keep up presents multiple challenges for a business’s global litigation strategy. A patents expert, Iain Cunningham handles US and international disputes, and has been with the company since 2010. He previously practiced at Cooley LLP 52803.
Michael Dailey has drawn particularly praise for his handling of global EPC projects, during his time as general counsel for French industrial services and fuel provider Air Liquide. ‘Michael possesses the skills of a journeyman lawyer, and is a tough, yet fair and pragmatic negotiator,’ says one private practice source. Formerly counsel in BP’s ‘Global Projects Organization’, he has been in the role since 2013.
Paul Doda’s involvement in the digital copyright infringement debate reached its pinnacle with his participation in a US Congressional hearing. ‘Paul is becoming an industry leader,’ says Dentons’ Marc Friedman. ‘Many publishers throughout the world now look to Paul for his leadership and ideas. He is becoming a force’. Allen Maines of Holland & Knight LLP concurs. ‘Paul Doda has taken a leadership role not only on behalf of his company, but for the industry as a whole’. Doda is widely praised for his measured stance on the issues, seen by many as a key to the effectiveness of his advocacy. ‘By avoiding a sledgehammer approach, he has garnered credibility and the trust of publishers and other content owners and the respect of those who hold opposing views,’ one industry contact argues. Doda himself says: ‘We are trying to work through deeply felt polarization on certain issues’. Chairman of the Online Piracy Working Group for the Association of American Publishers, he is, in fact, a relative newcomer to the industry and quick to point out its challenges. ‘The work in this area can be daunting based on the sheer magnitude and complexities of the online piracy problem’. Before Doda’s arrival in 2007, Elsevier had no specialist capabilities for dealing with disputes. Doda spurred on a global approach, spearheading efforts to collaborate with publishers and trade groups worldwide, sharing information and resources, to enable simultaneous action across multiple jurisdictions. ‘Most of the dedicated “bad actors” in this arena – e.g. pure pirate sites and counterfeiters – are common to the international community,’ Doda explains. ‘Joining together internationally to address them makes sense, but coordination can be a challenge’. Amongst other things, Doda also implemented a ‘“metrics”’ system to evaluate the outcomes of disputes, and with it ‘“return on investment”’. ‘Paul approaches litigation as a business tool rather than a 'cost center’,’ one private practice lawyer says. ‘The result is that, within Elsevier, Paul’s team is viewed as a profit center’.
‘I think interestingly business leaders are some of the most creative people I’ve ever met’. Originally a fine arts graduate, Heidi Dubois is passionate about the brands she supports. ‘The diversity of thinking that you get to see every day in-house I think really keeps me on my toes. You’re truly integrated in the business and you kind of get an ownership you don’t get to in a law firm. The plus is that you’re living with it, and the minus is that you’re living with it!’ Beginning her in-house career at Fortune 300 insurer Assurant, the truly global nature of PepsiCo’s brand really appealed to her, she says. The company’s “performance with purpose” policy on corporate governance is particularly dear to her heart. A strong advocate for the importance of the issue, Dubois is the elected president for the Society of Corporate Secretaries & Governance Officials’ New York Chapter, which holds a conference every year. ‘I think what’s really special about that conference is it’s really about advancing the conversation on corporate governance’. She has also been active in adapting the company’s proxy statement to shareholders on the subject, to make it more functional and user-friendly. With the many competing demands of measures such as Dodd-Frank, Dubois says prioritizing requirements and, with it, effective risk analysis is ‘a constant challenge’. ‘Trying to ensure you cover it all is tough and the best way to address it is to make sure you keep talking to people – I suppose it’s a learnt skill’. The variety of her current role, she says, is what she enjoys the most, as well as being another key area of challenge. ‘You need to be a curious person to be successful – you get to wear a lot of different hats’.
Vladimir Elgort has won considerable respect in the industry for his work on strategic projects and major, cross-border disputes. He co-managed of the global patent litigation between Sony and LG Electronics, which resolved in late 2011, working closely with counterparts across Europe and Asia. ‘We successfully worked together to strategically plan our global approach to the lawsuits,’ he says. Working alongside the heads of international and US IP operations, he leads support on all contentious and non-contentious IP matters, and represents Sony in various industry working groups. Elgort’s team also manages global strategic alliances and other initiatives focusing on the procurement and development of intellectual property assets. ‘I am fortunate to work with the best lawyers in the field,’ he says on the subject of outside counsel. ‘The one area that I would like to see law firms improve upon is the management of budgets’.
With ‘unparalleled legal expertise’, Lewis Ensley has drawn considerable industry recognition, throughout his seven-year career with Balfour Beatty. The British construction company agreed to sell its US professional service business Parsons Brinckerhoff to WSP Global for $1.35bn in 2014.
During her ten years in-house, Michelle Fang’s career has followed a steep upwards trajectory. ‘She is a knowledgeable, strategic problem-solver and not afraid to take responsibility for crucial company decisions,’ says one industry source. StubHub’s general counsel since October 2014, Fang heads domestic and international legal operations across the US, Germany and Luxembourg, taking a deep involvement in business strategy. She previously spent eight years at Stubhub’s parent company eBay, where she transitioned from leading North America litigation to global intellectual property head in 2013. ‘I said to the general counsel, I want to do something different, and I really hope it’s at eBay,’ she says on the move. Spending less than two years in the role, Fang headed a highly acclaimed legal team, and led innovative strategies which set precedents within the industry. She is an active participant in a number of working groups, including Intellectual Professionals and Anti-Counterfeiting.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, is one of the fastest growing large cap companies in the country, with share prices around one and a half times what they were four years ago. As assistant general counsel, George Fraley is involved in all stages of formulating and negotiating transactions. ‘He manages outside counsel thoughtfully and effectively juggles the various stakeholders in the company,’ says King Milling of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP.
Featuring in some of the most complex, cross-border billion-dollar transactions, award-winning lawyer Paul Freedman stands out for his legal and business understanding, and negotiation skills. ‘Paul is an unusual breed of corporate lawyer,’ says Bill Lamb at Baker Botts L.L.P.. ‘He has the ability to stay on top of a wide range of complicated legal issues, a well-refined view of the business issues driving the transaction and the ability to manage large teams of inside and outside lawyers, all at the same time and in the face of intense time pressure’. Freedman has served as both global business development lawyer and North American generation business general counsel for independent power company The AES Corporation. A key player in the domestic and global IPP industry, AES is a Fortune 200 global power company with operations in 20 countries and over $42bn total assets. ‘He is unique in the scope and breadth of his legal skills, sector knowledge and international expertise,’ says Mitchell Silk at Allen & Overy LLP. With significant M&A, project and regulatory experience, Freeman has handled deals across all global regions and all power technology sectors, for both traditional and alternative energy. He is also praised for his work in international development, having spent nearly five years as chief legal advisor for the US Agency for International Development’s worldwide credit guaranty program to stimulate private sector lending by banks in emerging markets. ‘Paul’s work was instrumental in growing this portfolio of local currency loans for infrastructure and small enterprises from $100m to over $1bn, and thereby fostering sustainable development while stimulating the economy and increasing employment in a number of developing countries,’ Silk argues. Freedman has been a course advisor and lecturer for the International Law Institute’s three week training program on Capital Markets Development and Regulation for government officials from developing countries since 2006. Freedman is also active in training and development at AES, and has taken substantial steps to implement precedents and procedures in the legal function.
‘Above all else, Matt is universally well-liked and respected,’ AJ Kess of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP says of Matthew Furman. ‘He is super star to work with’. The Travelers Company has shifted from a domestic to a strongly international focus. Furman handled 2013’s $1.1bn acquisition of Canadian company Dominion, Travelers’ largest transaction in almost a decade in 2013. ‘Travelers has always been exceptionally good at the role of lawyers,’ Matthew Furman says. ‘We sell heavily regulated contracts so my input is inherently important, but our legal team is seen as problem solvers – a group that helps people do their jobs’. Furman leads a large team of lawyers and non-lawyers across legal and corporate governance. ‘He is open-minded and has a rare style of consensus-building,’ Kess says. Furman has also been active in training and development within the team, as well as increasing collaboration and communication, with measures such as implementing interdisciplinary working groups. ‘The highlight of my job has been building and leading a team of outstanding professionals,’ he says. On the subject of outside counsel, Furman highlights the need to act in partnership with clients. ‘The best of our outside lawyers think proactively and act and feel like they have a significant stake in our success’. Formerly president of the Society of Corporate Counsel’s New York Chapter, Furman is a Legal Aid Society director and a New York Stock Exchanges Commission on Corporate Governance member. He has also taught international finance at Cardozo Law School as an adjunct professor.
‘Our GC is really creating a better department focused on career development,’ says James Gallagher. ‘He really views HP Legal as a talent factory – practicing law at a high level in the context of building a career’. A former Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP Government contracts attorney, Gallagher joined HP in 2005 and took over management of some of its largest and most visible public sector projects. Gallagher played the lead legal role in negotiating a multibillion-dollar sole source extension of the world’s largest IT services contract with the US Navy. As a part of this, he devised and executed the method of monetizing the intellectual property HP created under that program, resulting in a $3.7bn award. Gallagher currently oversees a team of lawyers and experienced contract professionals which supports approximately $4bn business annually. During his time in this role, he has created a deal governance procedure to address the unique aspects of government contracting. Law firms sometimes need to take a step back and consider the business context, he suggests. ‘Too often, outside counsel provides legal analysis in a vacuum. We value outside counsel that provides advice that resonates behind the business curtain’.
‘An excellent manager of both projects and people’, award-winning corporate counsel Chris Garza has often been thrown in at the deep end. A former litigator, one of this first tasks at his first in-house role at CITGO Petroleum was running a million-dollar construction project. With no previous experience in the field it was, he says, a ‘rude awakening’. ‘It was a huge transition from litigation to commercial,’ he adds. ‘It was on the job training. Now I’m sometimes doing some of the teaching’. Garza moved to Cosentino and reached GC level relatively early in his career in 2013. Making this step up, alongside the strong international dimension to Cosentino’s business, he says ‘was an offer to good to pass up’. As well as moving into an entirely new industry, Garza was also only the company’s second general counsel, and the first to be based in Houston, so he had to build a small local team from scratch. ‘Being a GC is much more business focused,’ he says. ‘The company really encourages teamwork and as a part of the executive team I provide a legal and a business perspective’. When it comes to law firms, Garza says ‘responsiveness’ is key. ‘We’re a very dynamic, fast-moving company. Quick responses within the day is number one and with it an understanding of our sense of urgency’.
‘An outstanding lawyer’, Harvard graduate Sergio Garza is highly regarding within his field. He has been at global exploration and production company Apache since 2006. He previously worked at leading energy firm Baker Botts L.L.P..
Capital One is the eighth largest bank-holding company in the United States. Leading a team of three, Leah Getlan reached resolution in a complex consumer class action brought against ING Bank prior to its purchase by Capital. ‘She devours legal arguments and factual details from every angle - equal parts the professor and the pragmatist,’ says BuckleySandler LLP oartner Valerie Hletko. ‘Her positive outlook and terrific sense of humor pervade her case management’. Getlan handles a broad spectrum of contentious work, including regulatory investigations. She regularly speaks at conferences and is an active member of the Mortgage Bankers’ Association and Capital One’s pro bono committee.
Formerly at Munger, Tolles & Olson, Jay Ghiya had not always planned to move in-house when the opportunity arose to join $90bn global fund manager and former client Oaktree Capital Management. ‘It has an incredible culture,’ he says of the company, adding: ‘The breadth and variety of issues is a different world, compared to what I was facing in private practice. In private practice you’re focusing more on details rather than the big picture’. A tax specialist, Ghiya was highly regarded in the industry even before his move in-house. ‘Jay is a superlatively talented tax lawyer,’ says Peter Furci of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. ‘Due to the breadth of Oaktree's activities Jay needs to have a daunting range of skills and knowledge’. His technical expertise were put to the test when the company went public in 2011. ‘It was a major accomplishment and there was a lot more than myself involved,’ he says. ‘Most public companies aren’t eligible – it’s a really novel structure and highly tax sensitive. To make sure it was architected and implemented in the right way, I had to work creatively from a tax perspective’. Ghiya has kept up his pro bono work at Oaktree, and his whole department has volunteered for housing charity Habitat for Humanity. A significant part of Ghiya’s role is co-ordinating all outside counsel; to do this effectively he developed a standard, centralized process. ‘We had to compare law firms across the globe – it’s difficult to do that in a vacuum’. Unsurprisingly, he has high expectations of law firms. ‘Getting from good to great is really going above and beyond the question that’s asked’.
Once ‘an amazingly valued and well thought of partner’ in private practice days, Bernel Goldberg has dedicated the past six years to working in the not-for-profit sector. Initially at Northwest Centre – one of the region’s largest charitable organizations – Goldberg is the first general counsel of two of Seattle’s largest cultural institutions. ‘It’s an awesome responsibility,’ he says. ‘I get to work with some brilliant people in the not-for-profit world.’ Goldberg has also set up an internship program with Washington University, enabling students to shadow him in both roles. ‘I get this wonderful opportunity to see these students blossom, as I open up this world of practicing outside law firms’. The greatest challenge he faces, is getting everything done. ‘We do it. Our practice is often quite intense, but we get to enjoy the fruits of our labors – strolling through a gallery and pondering a new art exhibition we helped to bring to the community, or listening to a concert in one of the most beautiful halls in the world’.
Tony Gomes ‘transformed’ Citrix Systems’ IP legal support. ‘Tony began developing a strategic vision that focused not only on protecting Citrix’s industry-leading products and services, but also its future innovation efforts,’ says William Prickett of Seyfarth Shaw LLP. ‘This forward-looking program has helped Citrix stay ahead of the innovation curve, and should deliver value for years to come’. One tangible result of Gomes’ work has been the ‘tremendous increase’ in the company’s patent portfolio, and the legal team quadrupling in size. ‘It’s felt like I’ve been constantly recruiting since I joined,’ Gomes concedes. The transition in-house, particularly in a management capacity, he says, is not without its challenges. ‘One of the things you don’t put a lot of focus on as an associate or partner is managing people. Managing people outside a law firm is very different – you have to recruit people with a much broader skillset, life experiences and geographical settings’. When it comes to outside counsel, Gomes looks for ‘excellent outcomes’, but with some appreciation for budgetary demands.
‘What I enjoy the most about my role is that I get to be a part of a team,’ says 49ers' vice president of legal and government affairs Hannah Gordon. ‘Everyone in the business has one goal: win the Super Bowl. The goal doesn't change no matter what your method of contribution; whether by playing, coaching, selling tickets, processing payroll, cleaning the building, or reviewing contracts’. As a woman in the world of major league sport, Hannah Gordon has drawn recognition not only from her peers, but from national and international press. ‘Ms. Gordon is in a unique position in the sports industry, owing not only to her judgment and instinct as an expert counsel, but also to her status as a trailblazing female mentor in a male-dominated industry,’ says Harry O’Brien of San Francisco firm Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass. Gordon herself is particularly proud of her work on the club’s new stadium. ‘The highlight of my in-house career to date was the ribbon-cutting at Levi's Stadium,’ she says. ‘It is rare that you have the opportunity to work on a project where your product is as tangible as a beautiful and imposing physical structure that houses 68,500 people’. Gordon has had a longstanding passion for the sports world, having previously worked for the NFL’s Management Council, and as a law clerk for the Oakland Raiders. She is a member of the NFL committee that administers the NFL Player Tuition Assistance Plan, and is on Santa Clara University Institute for Sports Law’s Ethics Advisory Board.
‘Andy earned his leading role at Altegrity through skill and hard work,’ says one private practice source. ‘He is a smart, commercial and level-headed negotiator with a charismatic manner that helps get deals done’. Global, diversified risk and information services company Altegrity comprises three separately-managed businesses: Kroll, HireRight, and USIS. Grimmig has worked with all three businesses on a global level and handled Altegrity’s complex, billion-dollar distressed refinancing and restructuring in 2014. Initially joining the company as associate general counsel, his remit subsequently expanded to include both the legal and the business aspects of corporate and finance transactions. ‘The result of this expanded role is that the finance, tax, corporate development and legal teams work more closely together on corporate matters,’ Grimmig explains. ‘It has created more efficient outcomes’.
‘I really wanted to be involved building something new,’ says Gates Scholarship alumni Ben Gross, on the appeal of his role at controversial internet start-up company Genius (formerly Rap Genius). Becoming the business’s first general counsel at such an early stage in his career has, he admits, been a steep learning curve. ‘It’s a challenge every day,’ Gross says. ‘I’ve learned so much more in last nine months than I’ve learned doing anything else. It’s important not to be too intimidated by things you’ve never seen before’. Originally focused on rap music, the online knowledgebase allows users to provide annotations and interpretations of song lyrics, news stories, poetry, and other text. ‘The biggest thing was getting to the point where we’re essentially fully licensed,’ Gross says, on the legal obstacles. ‘Ben continually impresses in his deal negotiations,’ says one private practice source.
‘Schneider is in the business of making energy more efficient,’ says award-winning corporate counsel Germaine Gurr on her decisions to move in-house. ‘I thought it would be a socially responsible company to work for’. Gurr joined the company in 2011, and since her very recent promotion to deputy general counsel and VP, she leads all legal aspects of transactional activity and also oversees the company's corporate governance group. ‘Germaine Gurr’s ability to take the initiative and understand the business aspects of a transaction and how that aligns with her company’s objectives is one reason for her success,’ opines Jenner & Block LLP partner Mercedes Hill. Gurr worked closely with general counsel Peter Wexler on Schneider Electric’s $5.2bn acquisition of British engineering company Invensys; a significant strategic deal for the company.
When Abbott’s pharmaceutical research business separated to become Abbvie in 2013, Anat Hakim moved from heading IP litigation, to leading one combined team covering all disputes. ‘That was a significant change,’ says Hakim. ‘We needed to finalize many matters at the same time that we were focusing on the transition and focusing on all the work we had ahead of us. I’m proud we’ve come a long way forward 20 months in’. In order to facilitate the integration, Hakim has followed a complete open-door policy, to build a more ‘cohesive environment’. ‘I encourage my team to have an ongoing narrative with me about the matters on which they are working on,’ Hakim explains. ‘The right answer is not based on hierarchy or seniority. I value a team that will challenge each other, and me, to get to the best answer and strategy rather than stay silent when they have a view that differs from mine.’ Hakim’s significant litigation success to date has included an appeal that reversed the largest patent verdict in US history. ‘Anat has built an exceptional winning record,’ says Mark Filip at Kirkland & Ellis LLP.
‘The highlights and biggest achievements of my in-house career to date are related to my ability to assist the company with navigating some of its most significant risks,’ says Karen Hale on her time at Abbott Laboratories and its recently spun-off research business Abbvie. Hale currently leads Abbvie’s global compliance function in its Office of Ethics and Compliance (OEC). Following the separation she helped to establish processes for both corporate governance and the legal function. ‘In both legal and OEC I have enjoyed the constant evolution of our company and the complex legal and compliance issues we navigate’. On the subject of law firms, Hale cites ‘creativity’ as an area which could sometimes be improved upon. ‘The best law firms have lawyers who think outside the box and suggest novel solutions’.
MMC employment head John Hamlin established and currently leads the company’s internal global network, Employment Law Council, designed to share information, resources, and strategy. The issue of limited resource, Hamlin explains, is a growing challenge faced by corporate counsel dealing with labor and employment. ‘Corporations that are going to thrive need to do “more with less” year after year,’ he says. ‘Meanwhile, US and international labor and employment regulation becomes more complex’. Leading a team of three lawyers, Hamlin handles all employment law support in the US and advises on matters internationally. ‘I have had the opportunity and the support from my department to build a talented team of employment lawyers,’ he says. ‘That’s been a highlight of my career to date – and an enormous pleasure’.
‘As the GC for an aggressively innovative company like Snapchat, the trick is determining how our unprecedented products and features square with musty legal precedents and statutes written during an altogether different era,’ says Chris Handman, regarded by many as one of the US’s top appellate lawyers. ‘Reasoning from first principles to determine how the law will let us do all we want to do for our users is a constant – and rewarding – challenge’. Former partner Handman was named image-sharing app Snapchat’s first general counsel in 2014. His appointment followed privacy expert Christopher Soghoian’s warning of class actions, resulting from millions of Snapchat users being hacked.
‘Intelligent strategist’ Kyle Harris manages and evaluates a wide range of litigation including complex EPC contract claims. A former associate, Harris has been in his current role since 2011. ‘He not only knows his business, he understands and respects that of outside counsel,’ says one private practice source. ‘Kyle knows what it takes to have a successful team, and he holds himself accountable’.
An ‘outspoken’ and ‘committed’ diversity advocate, Carrie Hightman’s efforts helped Nisource onto Ethisphere’s list of the World’s Most Ethical Companies in 2012 and 2013. Her Women’s Leadership Summit focused internally, while the Preferred Supplier program aimed to ensure NiSource’s external law firms shared its values. Hightman also rewrote the company’s code of conduct and overhauled its compliance program. ‘Carrie has been at the forefront of reshaping NiSource’s conducts business,’ says one private practice source.
An ‘active voice’ in the industry, Tom Hodges represented national trade association Manufactured Housing Institute at US House of Representatives’ subcommittees on both financial institutions and consumer credit. Hodges is praised highly for his effective support of Clayton Homes’ dramatic growth and his implementation of Dodd-Frank provisions. Clayton Homes is currently the largest supplier of houses and mobile homes in the US. Originally the company’s only lawyer, Hodges successfully pitched the idea of a legal team following the company’s 2003 Berkshire Hathaway acquisition and spent the decade that followed building one up. Amid the growing demands of the company’s heightened profile, the legal function was further tested by the US’s dramatic regulatory overhaul following the 2008 crash. ‘Mr. Hodges views his role as general counsel as supporting the vision of the company’s executives as well as motivating and developing the people in his department,’ opines BuckleySandler LLP partner Clint Rockwell. ‘He is a unique star among in-house corporate counsel’.
Though still early in his legal career, Crowdtilt general counsel Josh Horowitz has strong credentials in the start-up world. Months after graduating law school in 2010, Horowitz co-founded mobile web application company Flyyt, Inc. The following year he launched his own legal practice EmCom Law, specializing in start-up advice. He became group-funding platform Tilt’s first in-house counsel in 2013, establishing its legal function from scratch, and was appointed general counsel in 2014. ‘I enjoy the diversity of work and the large overlap with the operational business development activities at the company,’ he says. Horowitz helped the company design and implement an online winnings collection system for fantasy sport, in partnership with ESPN. Finalized in 2014, it was, he says, his ‘largest achievement to date’ at Tilt.
‘I have had a few shining moments during my in-house career,’ Citigroup associate general counsel Geneva Johnson concedes. She was lead lawyer on Citigroup’s ThankYou Cards product suite and worked on negotiation and marketing for a co-brand credit card deal. ‘What I have enjoyed most about my role at Citi has been the diversity in my responsibilities,’ she says. Johnson is praised by peers both for her complex product design and development work and for her strong commercial acumen. ‘Geneva is an influential and savvy businesswoman,’ says one private practice source. She is further strengthened by her consumer credit experience gained in the Attorney General’s Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau.
Diversified financial information provider Markit is a leading point of reference on global markets for front and back room professionals. General counsel Adam Kansler guided the company to its successful US IPO in 2014. He has led Markit’s strategic alliances, corporate communications, legal, human resources, regulatory and government affairs and enterprise risk functions since 2013. His 13-strong legal team across the US and UK has been pivotal in Markit’s growth and adaptation to regulatory reform since its 2003 inception.
‘He is a rare breed – a supremely talented lawyer, without artifice or ego,’ says Debevoise & Plimpton LLP lawyer Satish Kini. Award-winning Bank of Montreal lawyer Andrew Karp ‘has comprehensive knowledge of all things banking’ and is praised for his ‘innovative’ solutions and leadership of a ‘unique’, cross-border team. ‘I like the diversity of matters, intellectual puzzles and mix of policy and the practical that are the hallmarks of the regulatory practice,’ he says. During his time at the bank, Karp has worked to develop the bank regulatory management and response framework. As well as recruiting into the team, he created and co-chairs the bank’s Regulatory Development Committee, which centrally monitors, analyses and reports on regulatory change to increase both efficiency and responsiveness. ‘Andrew’s most significant accomplishment was institutionalizing the regulatory liaison role,’ says one industry source. ‘This role ensures good relationships with BMO’s regulators and consistent processes for examinations and responses’. Karp’s other significant contributions have included designing a bespoke regulatory training program. Law firms have greatly improved the quality of service to clients over recent years, he says, though he feels technology in areas such as billing could be improved.
‘I enjoy that my role focuses on defending and protecting the user's voice – a core principle for Twitter,’ says Amy Keating, who heads all litigation for the social media brand. ‘Since joining the department, I've prioritized scaling our ability to tackle litigation challenges both internationally and in the United States’. Keating was one of a number of lawyers who joined Twitter in 2012 from Google, where Keating handled the high-profile book search copyright dispute. ‘Her razor-sharp strategic judgment and unrelenting attention to detail lead to great litigation results,’ one private practice source says. ‘We work to build relationships with law firms that understand the unique aspects of the Twitter platform,’ Keating says on the subject of outside counsel. ‘Especially firms that can give us insights into local perspectives’.
Former Holland & Knight LLP lawyer Douglas Kelly impresses with his strong business acumen, according to one industry source. Kelly has been with the Marriott brand since 2006. His expertise includes state government liaison, privacy, regulation and litigation.
Corning Incorporated is a global manufacturing leader in glass, ceramics, and related materials, primarily for industrial and scientific applications with $8bn revenues. Its ‘Gorilla Glass’ product has been used for iPhone screens since 2007. Division counsel Grace Kelly handles a broad spectrum of work, with a strong focus on employee benefits. ‘Her technical knowledge, desire to learn and apply new ideas, and practical approach to problem solving put her at the leading edge of in-house counsel,’ says Lonie Hassel of Groom Law Group.
‘The most fulfilling aspect of being an in-house lawyer at a public company is being centrally involved in the decision-making process on an ongoing basis,’ says Dana Klein. ‘The in-house lawyer gets the opportunity to develop relationships with many departments throughout the company and to be involved early on in important initiatives that will affect the company’s business and future prospects. This is exciting stuff’. Iconic US brand Wendy’s is the world’s third largest fast food hamburger chain after Burger King and McDonalds, with growing activity in emerging markets such as India and Georgia. Executive leadership team member and veteran employee Dana Klein has led multiple strategic transactions, including Tim Hortons’ merger, IPO and eventual spin-off in 2006, the Triarc Companies merger and numerous debt offerings. Klein has also been active in bringing more work in-house, particularly in corporate governance, securities and contract negotiation. Klein’s greatest challenge, like many other in-house lawyers, is ‘doing less with more’, as fewer numbers do more work to tackle budgetary pressures. ‘This can be professionally fulfilling but it also requires lawyers to work outside their comfort zones’. Klein feels law firms have become much more value focused since the 2008 downturn, but says this needs to continue as M&A activity picks up. Managing expectations and risks in disputes, is also an important area for firms to focus on, he says. Klein is a long-serving member of the Ohio State Bar Association and the Corporation Law. He is also a securities dispute arbitrator for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
‘Tomas is an outstanding general counsel,’ Gibbs, Giden, Locher, Turner, Senet & Wittbrodt lawyer Marion Hack says. ‘He understands ValleyCrest's business and is a wonderful advocate on its behalf’. Landscape services provider ValleyCrest announced its merger with the Brickman Group in 2014. Tomas Kuehn has been vice president and corporate counsel with the company since 2010, and has brought litigation functions in-house to save costs. He provides comprehensive legal support to its broad spectrum of business divisions, including construction, design and maintenance, across the full spectrum of legal and risk management advice.
‘Whether she is facing litigation, negotiating licenses, or developing Google policy, Catherine continues to drive Google’s winning intellectual property strategies,’ says one private practice source. Head of Google’s patent litigation, Catherine Lacavera is, in words of one colleague, ‘an incredible human being and the person you want fighting in the trenches with you’. Since joining the company in 2005, Lacavera has built a global intellectual property litigation team and led disputes across US and European courts as well as at the International Trade Commission. Using ‘cutting-edge defense strategies’, she oversaw Google's 2012 victory over Oracle, as well as two major copyright wins over Viacom. Away from disputes, Lacavera was also involved in Motorola Mobility’s $12.5bn acquisition in 2012.
A former Debevoise & Plimpton LLP and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP lawyer, John Lynch is highly acclaimed for his technical expertise. During his time at international energy investor Sithe Global, he has focused on structuring projects located across Asia, Africa, Latin America and the US. He is also highly recommended in the area of partnership tax. ‘In each project or initiative I am involved in, the most significant challenge I typically face is to fully understand the business needs and objectives of each party,’ says Lynch. ‘A particularly complex undertaking as we operate across multiple jurisdictions and cultures on each project’. In his opinion, the best firms make efforts to understand business needs from the client’s own perspective. He is also a supporter of the fixed fee structure in circumstances where they can offer increased efficiency without reducing quality.
‘Geri Mankoff-Elias is a true leader and role model in both the in-house counsel and intellectual property arenas,’ says David Bernstein at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. As vice president and intellectual property counsel for US fashion design house Kate Spade & Company, Geri Mankoff-Elias is responsible for managing the intellectual property portfolio for three separate brands present across 20 countries and distributed online. As well as handling the full spectrum of legal work, Mankoff closely monitors the company’s highly successful digital marketing expansion. ‘It’s been a rollercoaster over the past three years,’ Elias says on the company’s dramatic growth. On the contentious side, Elias led Kate Spade’s 2013 victory over Saturday Surf. ‘Her performance has earned the respect of the senior business leaders, outside counsel and other members of the legal community as a whole,’ Bernstein says. Elias is on the board of directors for the International Trademark Association (INTA), which represents 30,000 trademark professions worldwide through its member organizations. She also founded and chaired INTA’s Fashion Industry Group, which brings together intellectual property counsel from some of the biggest fashion brands in the world. Elias is a frequent speaker on a variety of industry topics and has taught a fashion law seminar class at Cardozo School of Law.
‘A rising star for sure’, Jeff Mann is in his third role at medical devices manufacturer Boston Scientific, as senior counsel in its Med-Surg group. Focusing on a range of issues, including endoscopy, neuromodulation, and women’s health, Mann provides legal support for sales, marketing and supply chain functions, as well as advising on compliance issues.
‘Doug is a thoughtful, thorough and practical lawyer who exhibits an amazing facility with the full spectrum of issues and client demands presented by BAH's complex business,’ says Matthew Kaplan at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. ‘He is also fair minded and works incredibly constructively with outside counsel from a variety of firms on BAH's toughest matters’. Booz Allen Hamilton provides management and technology consulting services to the US government in areas such as defense, intelligence and civil markets. Douglas Manya is particularly praised for his work on the commercial business’s spin off and sale to Carlyle, involving an IPO and several complex financings.
Global aerospace manufacturer and United Technologies Corporation subsidiary Pratt & Whitney is building up its capabilities in anticipation of increased commercial and military engine production. Coming from an engineering background Raja Maharajh spent over a decade with the company, and has focused on commercial engines for the past three years.
Melinda McAfee is responsible for all Abercrombie & Fitch’s global employment law support, leading a team across the US and Europe. A former Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP partner, her role has expanded with the brand, since her arrival in 2006. ‘Abercrombie became a global company at an accelerated rate,’ she says. ‘I am thankful that we had a very strong team of lawyers working together to handle this.’ McAfee works closely with the business function on initial new country entry and provides specialist support in areas such as data privacy, retail compliance and marketing. When it comes to outside counsel, AcAfee most values firms her team can have a ‘true partnership’ with. ‘The outside counsel we have the closest relationships with are those that call us proactively to let us know about a change in the law that will affect us, or trends they are seeing.’
‘Josh has been at the center of mobile technology and patents within Google,’ Robert Bertin of Bingham McCutchen LLP says. ‘He has been one of the key leaders in creating one of the world’s most valuable patent portfolios’. During his five years at the world’s leading internet company, Joshua McGuire has led some of Google’s most high-profile transactions. These have included Motorola’s Mobility acquisition, home division divestiture and sale to Lenovo, due to close in 2014. He also handled Google’s 2011 attempted acquisition of the Nortel patent portfolio as part of its bankruptcy auction, which culminated in the largest ever s363 asset sale. Currently focused on Google’s Android programs, he has also been involved in its patent cross-licensing arena with the likes of Samsung. McGuire is praised highly for his strong management skills and contribution to Google’s ‘collaborative and deliberative culture’. ‘He is a prominent figure and brings with him a depth of experience, intelligence and a disarming character that has allowed him to succeed in deal making and teambuilding where most others would fail,’ Bertin adds. ‘Josh is well respected and well liked internally and externally’.
Legg Mason is one of the world’s largest asset management firms, comprising a diversified group of global affiliates. Tom Merchant first joined the firm in 1998 and was promoted to general counsel in 2013. ‘Tom has really figured out how to bring all the different aspects of the business together,’ says one in-house source. ‘He is overseeing some very complicated issues and doing a very nice job’. Merchant overseas all legal and compliance divisions.
Justin Mervis is making a career out of building up in-house legal functions. In his first role at Daymon Worldwide he did so over a five-year period creating a lean four-lawyer team and comprehensive risk and compliance functions to support business operations in around 40 countries. Mervis joined KIND in 2014 and has begun the process once again. ‘I think that most importantly in both cases, I have earned a seat at the table with management,’ he says. During his time at Daymon, Mervis also supported the formation of a Japanese joint venture, developing a team of local outside counsel to assist. ‘Working through and ultimately closing a deal with one of our most significant strategic partners was challenging and incredibly fulfilling’. When it comes to law firms, Mervis looks for attorneys who act as ‘true partners’ and ‘understand and anticipate my needs as GC’.
Still less than five years into her first in-house role, telecommunications regulation specialist Alison Minea has already made an impression both inside and outside her organization. ‘Alison has achieved tremendous success at an early point in her career, and there is no doubt in my mind that her future is bright and the best is yet to come,’ says one source. ‘She is a rising star in the truest sense of the word’. A year into her time at satellite service provider DISH (formerly DISH Network), Minea was promoted to senior counsel and director, and currently handles the company’s advocacy before the FCC on spectrum, media and satellite issues. ‘Despite her relatively young career, Alison has become a lawyer known for getting results on big issues,’ says Pantelis Michalopoulos of Steptoe & Johnson LLP. ‘DISH does not maintain a large Washington office, so she often has the lead on many cutting edge issues for the company. And her track record in just over four years at DISH includes many accomplishments that would make a much more senior attorney envious’. Minea is also active in the bar association and has just completed a term on the FCBA Foundation’s board of directors, an organization that raises and distributes funds for scholarships and local children’s organizations. Formerly a research assistant on the subject of telecommunication policy, Minea has been active in Colorado School of Law alumni organizations and its interdisciplinary research center Silicon Flatirons. ‘She is an active leader in the bar and her community, and her grace under fire is an inspiration to others,’ says Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP’s Craig Gilmore.
Despite the seniority of his role, former Van Ness Feldman LLP partner Curt Moffatt is right at the start of his in-house career. Leading a 23-strong team at North America’s largest upstream business, he helps support operations across the US and Mexico, including two LNG terminals and related infrastructure. ‘Curt not only brings a strong strategic vision, he combines a rich political background with a deep understanding of the industry and the law,’ says one private practice source. It is the sheer variety of his current role and approaching projects which appeals to him the most, Moffatt says. One of his primary challenges and also achievements so far, he feels, has been winning the trust of the team around him.
‘A very sharp guy,’ who is ‘thoughtful and detail-oriented with strong business savvy’, transactional and corporate governance specialist Dana Ng was promoted from senior counsel to vice president in 2014. During his eight years at Raytheon, Ng has taken on greater responsibility and increasingly complex work, and is praised by Steven Browne of Bingham McCutchen LLP for his ability to act outside his comfort zone. This, Browne says, is ‘coupled with the attitude that he will do whatever it takes to be able to expand his experience and understanding of the business’. ‘My portfolio encompasses a lot of interesting and challenging types of work,’ Ng says. When it comes to managing his team, he adds: ‘I really try to provide our people with growth opportunities’. Being a ‘lean’ outfit, optimizing efficiency is also key. ‘There are times when the work really spikes up and having a talented, hardworking and flexible team is critical’. Prior to joining Raytheon, Ng was corporate counsel for EMC and an associate at Goodwin Procter LLP, where he specialized corporate and securities work.
An experienced expert on telecommunication issues in the US and abroad, Richard Nohe has been pivotal to major internal changes in BT’s US operations. Among his biggest professional achievements, Nohe launched a US & Canada compliance & ethics committee which became BT’s global model. He also implemented a cost-saving strategy moving outsourced legal resources from India to the US; drove forward the function’s conversion to a regional model which he now leads, reporting into UK headquarters; and streamlined the workforce, increasing productivity in the process and integrated US and Canada teams with the rest of the Americas. Nohe has served as a Brookings Institution Congressional fellow on the professional staff of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Joey Nussbaum left Sullivan & Cromwell in 2000 to join the dot.com boom, culminating in a joint legal and business role at communications software developer Leapstone Systems. ‘I began in more of a corporate development role, which morphed into GC,’ Nussbaum explains. In 2007 the private company reached a headline merger with Motorola. ‘We took the concept and sold it to Motorola – I guess that meant I did a decent job along the way’. In his current role at global multimedia corporation Time Warner Nussbaum specializes in commercial contracts, with a strong IT leaning, leading a three-strong team.
Juliana O’Reilly leads American Express’s compliance and has drawn particular recognition for her thought leadership work on the Dodd-Frank reforms. ‘She is an extremely effective in-house lawyer,’ says Satish Kini 52648 at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. ‘She watches out for her company and is strategic in her engagement with regulators’. Leading a five-strong team, O’Reilly has been active in raising internal awareness of regulatory concerns, making training a strong focus. O’Reilly also supported the leading finance institute in obtaining a federal reserve in the aftermath of the credit crunch – something she views as a highlights of her in-house career to date. She is a member of Virginia Athletics Foundation’s audit committee.
Growing midstream business Tallgrass Energy operates multiple interstate natural gas and oil pipelines. Former FERC attorney Mustafa Ostrander holds a dual transactional and regulatory role and has guided the company through the compliance requirements related to owning recently acquired regulated pipeline assets for the first time. ‘Mustafa provides insightful and creative compliance counsel in the company’s fast-paced growth-oriented business environment,’ says Amy Beizer of Van Ness Feldman LLP. ‘He has successfully steered the company through a number of regulatory challenges in his relative short time with Tallgrass’.
Since his 2011 arrival, Michael Pass has worked on developing Freeport-McMoRan’s global compliance program. He also devised an online due diligence tool to deal with FCPA’s heightened demands (in his words ‘my most impactful achievement to date’). ‘I have had the opportunity to build something from the ground up – somewhat of a rarity in a large multinational corporation,’ Pass says. Communication, he feels, is key to implementing practices on this scale. ‘The biggest challenge I have is being everywhere at once. Posters, emails, and our intranet are great, but there simply is no substitute for sitting down with a group of people and talking about ethics and compliance. That’s a challenge when you have such a broad geographic presence as we have at Freeport’.
‘A terrific in-house lawyer’, during her long career at global IT business EMC, Susan Permut has helped to build the legal team and has also spearheaded the company’s corporate governance program. ‘This was an area that didn’t really exist when I joined EMC,’ she explains. ‘As this field grew, I developed the governance program, working closely with our board of directors and senior management.’ Permut has been active in industry discussions on governance, through the Council of Institutional Investors, the Society of Corporate Secretaries and Governance Professionals and other forums. ‘She is frankly unflappable,’ says one in-house source. ‘She is very good at communicating very technical things in a very clear and understandable way to clients. She has that blend of technical skills and business judgment that is very suited to an in-house position’.
‘I have many different audiences and counterparties - executives, operational employees, lawyers, new media managers, and regulators,’ says Joshua Pila on working as a lawyer in the entertainment industry. ‘My role allows me to stand at the crossroads of executives and operational managers, with one foot in public policy and strategy while I have another foot in day-to-day media and digital operations’. In 2013, Pila supported LIN Media in a first-of-its-kind conversion from publicly traded corporation to publicly-traded LLC. He has also introduced various online resources to assist operations within the legal function, including a new contracts management system and online training. Pila was promoted to senior counsel in 2012, after four years at the company. He previously specialized in communications law at Dow Lohnes PLLC.
‘Young, good and rising’, Marc Polk has broad litigation experience, and is actively involved in the Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel. He is a respected voice in the industry, participating in debates on issues including predictive coding and in-house litigation management. As associate general counsel for Covidien (formerly Tyco Healthcare Group), he manages all the company’s product liability disputes, with other focus areas including commercial and intellectual property. Polk was previously a partner at Nutter, McClennen & Fish, LLP.
‘Definitely a leader in his field’, Terence handles all aspects of employee benefits at the US’s largest used car retailer, CarMax. ‘Terence is able to balance the constantly changing legal requirements of employee benefits, while staying responsive to his company's business needs,’ says Christy Tinnes at Groom Law Group. Rasmussen joined the company in 2010, and previously specialized in commercial litigation at Hunton & Williams LLP.
Heading a specialist employment team at multi-brand restaurant operator Darden, Dawn Rodda has made integration her focus. ‘We’ve really grown the department, earned the trust of our business partners, and embedded ourselves into the business,’ she says. ‘It’s something which I’m very proud of’. Former Foley & Lardner LLP attorney, Rodda is actively involved in both policy formation and major disputes, and is also praised highly for her technical expertise. ‘She has become a strong subject matter expert in employment law to the point where she is called into the board room to provide advice,’ says one source.
‘Attorneys at Tishman Speyer are fully integrated members of the team – it’s a great place to be a lawyer,’ Daniel Sinrod says on his role. As the sole private equity funds lawyer at Tishman Speyer, Daniel Sinrod guides the firm’s global efforts and works closely with the portfolio managers of Tishman Speyer’s 14 existing open- and closed-end funds. ‘Daniel is a smart, dynamic and business savvy lawyer with in-depth knowledge of fund formation and a notable ability to bring out the best in those who work with and for him,’ says former colleague Michael Harrell of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. Like most private equity firms, Tishman Speyer registered as an investment adviser with the US SEC in 2012. Sinrod arrived in 2011, just in time to spearhead this process. His work included implementing a series of new legal and compliance policies, and training the firm’s 1400+ real estate professionals spread across four continents. When selecting outside counsel, Sinrod looks for advisors who take a proactive approach: ‘All of our outside counsel can competently answer the questions posed to them; the best of our outside counsel know how our platform operates and they spot issues for us before we ask’.
Katherine Smith manages Allstate’s corporate secretary office, advising the Board and senior management on corporate governance, securities, standards, insider trading issues and s.16 compliance. She has been active in the development of the insurer’s corporate governance policy and leads investor engagement on the issue. She also focuses on public disclosure governance advice related corporate communications and has handled numerous transactions, including debt offerings.
American Airlines merged with US Airways in 2013 to become the world’s largest airline. Previously at US Airways, Jennifer Stojak is responsible for all benefits issues in the company’s newly-formed legal function. ‘This is an enormous job for any attorney because of the wide range of knowledge that is necessary,’ says Christine Keller of Groom Law Group. ‘However, here, her role is even more challenging, as there are many unique issues associated with aligning the benefits offered when two companies merge, particularly with a unionized workforce’. In handling these challenges, Stojak is praised highly for her problem solving, strong technical ability, business acumen and positive relationship-building skills. ‘It is clear that Jennifer is on a trajectory within the new American Airlines that can only result in her role within the company expanding and rising in the future,’ Keller adds.
Contentious expert Laura Storto has been at Roche subsidiary Genentech since 2007 and was previously an associate at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP. ‘While Laura considers alternatives, she also has the unique ability to do so efficiently so as to not be overwhelmed by choice,’ says one private practice source. Storto is particularly valued for her ability to build strong relationships inside and outside the business.
CCA represents more than 100 competitive carriers and over 250 vendors and suppliers in the wireless industry. As the Association’s first GC, Rebecca Thompson takes a dual legal and advocacy role, to further its goal to protect rural wireless telecommunications providers’ interests across the US. ‘There is nothing quite like having a job where you are passionate about the policies for which you advocate,’ Thompson says. ‘That often makes my job feel more like a cause, and for me, makes it a lot of fun’. Thompson says she is particularly proud of her role in the FCC’s planned voluntary incentive spectrum auction, set to even the playing field between large and smaller carriers. ‘It is a really interesting, exciting issue and it’s the first of its kind – finally coming to life with the FCC,’ Thompson says. After securing the decision to implement the auction, Thompson worked closely with the FCC in drafting its rules. She also supported the organization in its rebrand from the Rural Cellular Association (RCA).
Oaktree Capital Management is one of the world’s leading distressed debt and alternative asset managers. As associate general counsel and managing director, Richard Ting handles a broad spectrum of work. ‘Rich is decisive, quick, smart and collegial, with terrific business judgment and strong management skills,’ says one source. ‘He is also a team player in an extremely strong legal group in an organization with the highest performance and ethical standards’. Ting was previously an associate at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.
Former Dechert LLP partner Brennan Torregrossa first opened up to the possibilities of working in-house when he was seconded to a different pharmaceutical in a major product liability case. ‘I really never until that moment considered moving in-house because I loved the courtroom so much,’ he says. ‘What really surprised me was the creativity of the job. It was also great to have some goal each day which was bigger and broader than winning a piece of litigation’. Torregrossa has in fact made curtailing litigation a major focus during his time at GlaxoSmithKline. With the support of his general counsel, he implemented two innovative training programs within the company: an early case assessment program (MASTER) and a negotiation for lawyers program (NESTOR). ‘A lot of companies try to avoid and end law suits – MASTER is an attempt to change corporate culture,’ he explains. On NESTOR, he says: ‘Lawyers tend to think they are good negotiators but they may not be’. Such was the universal relevance of NESTOR, it has been applied not just to the legal function but to the wider business. ‘Negotiation is something we all do every day – if we can get better negotiators we can get better results’.
‘A dealmaker in every sense of the term, Joel has a unique ability to address the strategic issues that are required of a global company like Accenture,’ says one private practice source. Covering the full gamut of work across corporate governance, securities and M&A Joel Unruch has obtained exceptional transactional experience since his 2011 arrival. During 2013 and 2014 the company made several acquisitions, including PureApps, i4C Analytics, and PRION Group. The Fortune Global 100 company operates across 56 countries with approximately 280,000 employees. This is Unruch’s second in-house role after previously as a corporate counsel for Amazon. He began his legal career at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP.
Altec is the leading manufacturer of aerial devices, digger derricks and specialty equipment for the electric utility, telecommunications and tree care industries. Employment and compliance specialist Aldos Vance launched an innovative training program “HR Bootcamp” in the US and a similar program is being developed for Canada. He is a member of Alabama’s Restrictive Covenants in Contracts Study committee. Law firms could benefit from being more ‘concise’ he says. ‘Brevity for an in-house lawyer is invaluable in communicating to business partners as well as receiving information from outside counsel’.
Thuy Vo has supported two of Archer Daniels Midlands’ most significant recent transactions since her 2013 arrival, namely its $3bn Wild Flavors acquisition and the $350m sale of its South American fertilizer business. ‘She is a brilliant M&A lawyer, earning tremendous confidence from her client team and demonstrating great strategic aptitude for getting deals done efficiently and effectively,’ says Joseph Gromacki, Jenner & Block LLP’s corporate head. Vo previously served as professor and faculty director for the Center for Law and Business at William Mitchell College of Law and was also a corporate and securities attorney at Dorsey & Whitney LLP. She is involved in a number of industry associations including American Law Institute, William Mitchell Business Law Society and Minnesota State Bar Association. She is also active in pro bono and other volunteer work for organizations including the BWCA Preservation Group, Domestic Abuse Project, Girls Club, and Chua Phat An Vietnamese Language School.
Former Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP lawyer Brian Waldbaum joined Hertz in 2013, after working with them as a client for several years. ‘The opportunity to come in-house and become part of the business team greatly intrigued me,’ he says. Waldbaum is the main in-house contact for financing transactions overseen by the Treasury Department. ‘I take great pride in developing creative solutions to complex problems,’ he says, adding: ‘The broad range of financings that Hertz utilizes to finance its operations presents the biggest challenge for me day to day’.
Former K&L Gates partner Tamara Watts was already a leading name in the US not-for-profit sector before she made the move in-house to ‘the largest and most important foundation in the world’. ‘She is undoubtedly smart and very knowledgeable, but she is also extremely poised and confident,’ says fellow Exempt Organizations Committee member David Shevlin of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP. ‘I envision her as a future leader within our field, which I believe she will accomplish without aggression or opportunistic behaviour, but rather on her own terms and by displaying her natural skills’. ‘Tamara’s not just a phenomenal tax attorney – she’s also just a lovely human being,’ says one colleague. ‘She is very collaborative and has been a wonderful addition to our team’. For Watts, the appeal of the role lay both in the depth and variety of experience on offer, and in the power of the cause itself. ‘It’s a pretty amazing opportunity to be a part of the foundation, which I always had a lot of pride in supporting as a client,’ she says, adding: ‘The complexity and international reach of its work really forces a tax-exempt lawyer like myself to be creative.’
Vice president and associate general counsel Jeffrey Weissman joined World Fuel Services in 2009. He led the Company’s defense of complex environmental and related wrongful death and personal injury tort litigation arising out of the derailment of a train in Lac Magentic, Quebec carrying the Company’s product. ‘Jeff possesses key strengths rarely found in lawyers of any age,’ says Mark Filip of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. ‘First, he is very adept in different substantive areas of law. Second, he is a great legal analyst who can cut to the heart of issues. Third, he makes serious judgments and does so in a thoughtful way. He’s a real asset for World Fuel Services.’ Prior to joining World Fuel Services, Weissman was general counsel at Ryder System’s Fleet Management Solutions division.
‘I took over as GC having virtually no experience of managing a budget or leading a group of people,’ Candice Wells says of her 2013 promotion. An award-winning in-house lawyer, Wells made the step up early in her career during a period of exceptional circumstances for Linn Energy. The company’s planned merger with Denver-based Berry Petroleum Company came under prolonged scrutiny when the SEC Division of Enforcement began an informal inquiry and wide scale litigation followed. ‘She has remained a consistent presence of calm and voice of reason during the company’s challenges,’ says Kendra Paul of Seyfarth Shaw LLP, who credits Wells’ strong relationships across the legal department and the business as a crucial component to her success. ‘The transformative merger involved numerous complex first-impression legal issues,’ Paul adds. Wells led Linn through the merger, which was the first time an LLC has acquired a C corporation. In addition to the inquiry and ongoing disputes, Wells has also expanded Linn’s legal department to accommodate the business’ growth and now leads six lawyers. When dealing with law firms, she is looking for ‘true partners’ and says solutions focus is key. ‘My biggest frustration is calling an outside firm for help and hearing all the reasons why what we want or need to do is impossible or too difficult’.
‘Marty Willhite at Legendary Entertainment is a superstar,’ according to one in-house source. Former Munger, Tolles & Olson partner Willhite was already viewed as one of the US entertainment industry’s top lawyers when he joined Legendary in 2011. Previously acting for the likes of MGM and Times Mirror’s majority shareholders Chandler Trusts in game-changing industry transactions, Willhite says the opportunity of becoming Legendary’s first in-house lawyer was too exciting to turn down. ‘The CEO is so compelling and dynamic, I saw the potential,’ he says, though he acknowledges it was a bold move. ‘It was not and remains not without risk – that’s something I wasn’t accustomed to coming from a law firm’. As the studio’s first in-house lawyer, putting the legal function in place has been both ‘challenging’ and ‘exciting’. Willhite handled arrangements for Japanese telecommunications company SoftBank's $250m joint venture with the studio in 2014. Founded in 2000, Legendary Entertainment produced The Dark Knight and "The Hangover" series.
The ‘super-innovative’ Allyson Willoughby undertakes a unique dual role as legal and HR head of internet website Glass Door, a careers website which reviews jobs and companies. ‘She has a really interesting role as both head lawyer and the head of people,’ says one source. ‘Every decision she takes is– “This is the culture I want in this organization”’. Social gaming and advertising business RockYou’s former GC, Willoughby is highly experienced in the digital industry. She began her in-house career at eBay, where she served as director of legal affairs for eBay subsidiary StubHub.
Reid Wilson leads Abercrombie & Fitch’s contentious and non-contentious trademark work, including the company’s successful litigation against reality TV star ‘The Situation’ in 2013. During his nine years at the iconic brand, its global trademark portfolio has expanded substantially, and upon his arrival Wilson was tasked with developing a full-service trademark team. ‘Building the team we have here is certainly among the biggest highlights in my view,’ he reflects on his in-house career to date. ‘I had the opportunity to come in and start from scratch and I feel we have one of the best in-house trademark teams.’ An adjunct professor at Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Wilson is also active in the team’s informal internship program.
Multi-award-winning lawyer Michael Wolf handles all aspects of Aon’s global corporate transactions, including mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, joint ventures, partnerships and strategic alliances. ‘Michael Wolf has been part of some of the most complex M&A and securities deals I’ve ever seen,’ says Jenner & Block LLP’s Joseph Gromacki. ‘He is a brilliant lawyer who can wear both hats – as a trusted legal advisor and as a part of a business team’. Himself a former Jenner & Block LLP partner, Wolf also served as associate general counsel at the Chicago Board of Trade, where he supported both its shift to a new for-profit structure and its 2005 initial public offering.
‘Stephanie is a leader in the corporate ranks of power generation companies,’ says one private practice source. ‘She is a master manager of outside counsel and internal staff and ensures Luminant is on the right track’. Energy Future Holdings subsidiary Luminant Generation Company’s activities include plant, mine, wholesale marketing and trading, and development operations. Stephanie Zapata Moore works closely with the company’s management to develop its strategy surrounding environmental and regulatory issues, and also leads all commercial transactions. She successfully led Luminant in Sierra Club’s high profile action over alleged clean air regulation violations which was resolved in 2014. “Under Stephanie’s leadership the company has been successful in significant litigation and regulatory matters,’ says another private practice lawyer. ‘Her careful consideration of all viewpoints on an issue or strategy is evident and one key to her success’. Moore was previously an associate at Gardere Wynne Sewell, where she focused on corporate and securities work.
GC Powerlist: Deutschland 2014
GC Powerlist: Deutschland, first published in September 2014.
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