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GC Powerlist > GC Powerlist: US Teams
The Legal 500 by country
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
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For 28 years, The Legal 500 has been analysing the capabilities of law firms across the world. The GC Powerlist is the latest publication from The Legal 500, turning its attention to the in-house function, and recognising those corporate counsel who are driving the legal business forward. The latest edition is the GC Powerlist: US Teams, which identifies an array of the most influential and innovative in-house teams working in the United States....read more
Our commitment to the in-house market is expanding, not only through the publication of the GC Powerlist Series, but also with our wide range of events, seminars, roundtables and legal updates. We have also launched GC Magazine, a quarterly title (free of charge to in-house counsel) that looks at the business of being an in-house lawyer, from a strategic, commercial and theoretical standpoint. We understand that the biggest issues facing in-house counsel today are, in fact, rarely legal issues. Our editor-in-chief, Catherine McGregor is now based in the United States and is travelling the length and breadth of the country to meet, interview, analyse and finally share the very best that the in-house market has to offer.
If you have feedback on the GC Powerlist: United States Teams, or wish to nominate other in-house individuals (either in US or global), please do get in touch at email@example.com.
We hope that this listing will stimulate debate around the role of the in-house lawyer and help corporate counsel with possible improvements and efficiencies in running their departments.
|David Burgess||Mudasser Ahmedi, Boris Dechev|
GC Powerlist: US TEAMS
(listed in alphabetical order; click on a team to view an expanded biography)
Abercrombie & Fitch
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
American Hospital Association
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Becton, Dickinson and Company
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Black & Veatch
BMO Financial Group
Booz Allen Hamilton
California Department of Tax
Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC)
Discover Financial Services
Federal Housing Finance Agency
Johnson & Johnson
Jones Lange LaSalle
JP Morgan Chase & Co.
Liberty Mutual Group
Major League Baseball (MLB)
Major League Soccer (MLS)
Marsh & McLennen Companies
Merck & Co.
National Football League (NFL)
Oaktree Capital Management
Pratt & Whitney
The Environmental Protection Agency
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
The New York Times
The United Services Automobile Association (USAA)
The Walt Disney Company
Trian Fund Management
United Way of New York City
U.S. Steel Corporation
Walgreens Boots Alliance
The past two years have been transformative for Abercrombie & Fitch. The legal team, headed by award-winning GC Robert Bostrom, has been ‘a constant port in the storm’ throughout sustained international expansion and varied strategic challenges. The team has devised a sophisticated centralized compliance function and revamped corporate governance standards. It has also participated in a cross-functional initiative to build e-commerce relationships internationally. Operating as part of a global function, the US team includes intellectual property head Reid Wilson and employment and retail operations specialist Melinda McAfee, both named as GC Powerlist: US Rising Stars in 2014. The team is organized by expertise rather than region, meaning all lawyers must combine a broad international awareness of legal issues with a deep understanding of their specialisms. The Abercrombie & Fitch employment and health and safety unit has gained particular recognition over recent years for its role in highly successful diversity initiatives across the brand’s global retail arm. The company’s diversity & inclusion council is chaired by Bostrom. ‘Diversity and inclusion are critical to the legal department and the company’, says Bostrom. ‘The department is aggressively pursuing different avenues to increase, support and strengthen its diversity, and positively impact the company at large through its diversity efforts’.
Air Liquide, a global supplier of industrial gas services to medical, chemical and electronic manufacturing industries, is blessed with a legal team that shows strong awareness of how to generate value. The team is led by two leading lawyers in the industrials sector: Kevin Feeney acts as vice president and general counsel for Air Liquide USA LLC, while Michael Dailey acts as general counsel for the engineering and construction division in the Americas. The legal function is recognized for being highly technically skilled while also for delivering the ‘commercial savvy-ness of how the business deals with suppliers, vendors and clients’. The team is widely praised for its ability to succinctly communicate legal issues to business leaders and engineers. Since joining Air Liquide in 2013, Dailey has risen from sole counsel for engineering and construction, to his current role heading a team that participates in the day-to-day decisions shaping the company’s outlook. According to Dailey, ‘it is recognized that the legal function can add significant value to how we operate as a business and we are now much more active in commercial decisions’.
The legal team at leading security services provider AlliedBarton has not only led significant internal organizational change but has made a notable impact on the wider industry. In 2014, the team made headlines with its strategic response to the Affordable Care Act. Meeting the Act head-on, the legal team planned and led a benefits mitigation strategy that went on to inspire similar responses across the industry. ‘In our industry, employee compensation and benefit programs are a strategic issue because they are intrinsic to a security provider’s value proposition’, general counsel David Buckman explains. ‘It was critical to us that we continue to provide benefits while mitigating substantial cost pressures’. The team also played a ‘leading role’ in the company’s response to national unionization trends by collaborating with leading security officer union SEIU in efforts to protect both business interests and employees’ rights. Since his arrival at the company ten years ago, Buckman has helped establish its human capital resource management function. Reporting directly to the chairman and CEO, Buckman and his team are given responsibilities that stretch far beyond those of a traditional legal function. Aside from legal and compliance matters, the legal team’s responsibilities include labor relations, risk management and safety, and licensing. Buckman is also personally praised for his role in the company’s successful “leadership brand” initiative, aiming, in the words of one private practice source ‘to ensure exceptional and distinctive leadership at all levels of the organization’. ‘Our leadership philosophy is based on the ideal that leaders have a responsibility to ensure the engagement and success of their team members’, Buckman says. ‘We encourage self-development and participation in industry associations and external and internal training opportunities. We recognize success and extra effort’. The legal team is also notable for the scope it gives senior lawyers beyond the GC to shine in front of the board. ‘As leaders and effective executives, AlliedBarton’s senior lawyers are trusted advisors to the executive team, and as a result are given a seat at the table during strategic planning processes’, Buckman says. Deborah Pecci (in Buckman’s view, ‘our industry’s leading expert on wage and hour law’) has pioneered defense-strategy in wage and hour class actions. Chairing the Legal Forum of the National Association of Security Companies (NASCO) she has taken an active role in industry training and discourse. As safety committee head, Mike Meehan has led several wide-reaching initiatives to improve safety performance and instill ‘a safety culture and processes’. ‘Under Mike’s leadership, the safety committee was re-energized and restructured into a center of innovation and business results’, according to Buckman. As deputy GC and chief compliance officer, Nancy Peterson led the development of AlliedBarton’s contract compliance procedure and is currently undertaking a similar overhaul of the company-wide compliance program. The team has supported AlliedBarton in several ‘transformative’ deals, including the acquisition of Initial Security and multiple changes of ownership, first of all to Blackstone and subsequently to Wendel Group.
The American Civil Liberties Union relies on its 200 staff attorneys to support more than 500,000 members nationwide in its decades-old campaign against injustice. The organization continues to make history in key social and legal issues with the support of its lawyers. One recent high-profile example includes its successful contempt action over Kentucky county clerk, Kim Davis’ refusal to issue same-sex marriage licenses. Director of ACLU’s Center for Equality, Matt Coles has spent almost 20 years with the union, and currently focuses on voting, racial justice, immigration and disability rights. Center for Liberty director Louise Melling has featured in federal and state courts challenges to laws restricting reproductive rights. ACLU’s LGBT project has elicited some of the most significant recent advancements on the issue through its litigation and advocacy. Among the project’s members, Chase Strangio has attracted significant media attention for his role in the initiative, with specialisms including impact litigation and legislative and administrative advocacy.
Card payment and global services company American Express has had a rollercoaster year of transformational deals, high profile law suits, and personnel change. In 2014 Laureen Seeger was appointed as executive vice president and general counsel, already being known as one of most respected corporate counsel in the US. Considered a gifted legal strategist and litigator, Seeger leads the company’s legal, compliance and ethics, corporate secretary and federal and state government affairs functions. The Amex legal team was central to one of the most eye-catching deals in recent corporate history: last year’s spin-off of its business-travel division. The legal team led on the complex carve out of global business travel service assets and helped establish them in a separate entity that will be jointly run by American Express and a Certares LP led consortium including Qatar Holdings, Macquarie Capital and funds managed by BlackRock. With a long-serving and experienced team, the company has every support to continue its innovative operations across the globe.
Led by senior vice-president and general counsel Melinda Reid Hatton, American Hospital Association’s legal team has supported considerable organizational change over recent years. The industry group appointed a new president as one of seven new members of the board of trustees in 2015, a move set to impact its future policy-making and corporate governance code. Supporting the leading trade organization in a highly regulated industries, the legal team has handled a spate of complex fraud cases over recent years and played a central role in AHA’s high-profile advocacy work. Carrying considerable weight as a lobbying group, the Association made headlines this year through its opposition to Humana’s $37bn acquisition of Aetna on antitrust grounds. Previously challenging Medicare’s policy denying payment under Part B, the legal team has also filed numerous amicus briefs on the Affordable Care Act.
Supporting the largest nonprofit health provider in the US, Ascension’s function reinvented itself this year. With the launch of the ‘Ascension Legal’ brand the team has moved from ‘a culture of independent practitioners into a community of mutually supportive and collaborative attorneys’. Following a six-month design process, the newly-centralized 77-lawyer function became fully operational in January 2015. To promote greater collaboration, it launched a communications platform, including video conferencing capabilities, an intranet site for sharing information and tools, and a newsletter. The team also hired a business manager to provide high-level data management and review and track legal spend. ‘The impact of this transformation has been tremendous’, a team spokesman says. ‘In addition to significant intangible benefits such as strategic alignment and an increased sense of community among our legal team, we project initial savings of 8-10% compared to prior year legal expenses’. The team’s lawyers also participate in organization-wide talent management initiatives focused on building future leadership teams. GC Powerlist named executive vice president and general counsel Joseph Impicciche one of the US’s top 100 in-house lawyers in 2013. A veteran non-profit lawyer, Impicciche is a respected voice in the industry and has supported several significant strategic projects and transactions during his 11-year tenure at Ascension.
A year on from Pfizer’s thwarted $120bn takeover bid, British biopharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca continues to rely on its US legal function to support major strategic transactions and partnerships both domestically and internationally. With antitrust clearance finalized for its second partnership with Californian Isis Pharmaceuticals, AstraZeneca is enlisting the legal team to support the early stages of a ground-breaking project to develop antisense drugs for cardiovascular, metabolic and renal diseases. The global corporation’s ongoing expansion in the region has included the $14.6m purchase of Amgen’s former manufacturing plant in Colorado. Headed by US general counsel Steve Mohr, the team’s specialist expertise include M&A, regulation and litigation. AstraZeneca’s US in-house team has shown real innovation recently in managing costs. US litigation head Luke Mette (one of GC Powerlist’s 2013 top 100 US lawyers) introduced the concept of ‘weighted billable hours’ in the instruction of outside counsel. He also created core accountabilities to heighten efficient service to internal clients.
With senior executive vice president and general counsel Wayne Watts set to retire in the near future, Dallas-based communications giant AT&T will lose, in the words of AT&T chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson, ‘one of the top legal minds in corporate America’. Fortunately, Watts has built up a formidable team of lawyers who will be able to continue his legacy of expert corporate guidance. He will be replaced by David McAtee, current assistant general counsel for litigation. In his time at the company, Watts has negotiated mergers and acquisitions with a combined value of nearly $250bn and has been integral to AT&T’s success. His most recently negotiated deal is also his largest: AT&T’s $49bn purchase of DirecTV. The AT&T legal team has shown itself to be a leader in the US market in a number of other areas, in particular through its admirable commitment to pro bono work and corporate ethics.
Headed by senior vice president, general counsel and secretary Susan Miller, global label and packaging manufacturer Avery Dennison’s global legal function completed a long-term program for change to optimize efficiency and value-add. With ‘leaner’ processes and extensive use of IT and client-engagement tools, the team has gained considerable visibility across the business. Changes were set in motion when Miller was appointed GC in 2007, beginning with steps such as centralization, building specialisms and formalizing law firm instruction. The function moved from regional legal departments to global business-focused specialist streams in 2013, with all lawyers reporting to Miller. To facilitate continued improvement, the team uses ‘scorecards,’ measuring performance on a quarterly and annual basis. Each business line also developed strategic IP plans in conjunction with their respective marketing teams. The department outsourced trademark management, while keeping all US patent prosecutions in house.
In supporting the activities of one of the most widely recognized financial services companies around the world, the New York-based legal team at Bank of America Merrill Lynch has to adapt to a volatile and ever-changing industry. Composed of lawyers widely praised for their resilient and innovative nature, the team has successfully navigated the company’s legal activities through the ‘unchartered waters’ that followed the global financial crisis in 2008. In the past seven years, the team has been plagued with an unprecedented amount of litigation and legal claims. More recently, in 2014, the team was commended for completing what is widely recognized as the ‘largest civil settlement with a single entity in US history’, a $16.6bn settlement with the US Department of Justice. The bank agreed to pay a record sum to resolve mortgage-backed securities allegations against its former and current subsidiaries. The case marked a milestone in the US government’s attempts to hold banks accountable for the financial crisis. This year, the team has dealt a number of potentially damaging claims and continues to act as a first line of defense in protecting Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s reputation.
Representing the largest construction and civil engineering company in the US, Bechtel’s legal team has top-tier expertise in all areas of law. The legal team’s recent efforts have secured Bechtel one of the first licenses to operate unmanned aircraft system – or drone – technology for commercial purposes in the US. Bechtel prides itself on having high ethical and corporate governance standards and general counsel Michael Bailey, who sits on the board of directors at anti-corruption NGO Transparency International, is no exception. Under Bailey’s leadership, the Bechtel legal team has won a number of awards. Nancy Higgins, chief ethics and compliance officer, was awarded the Carol R. Marshall Award for Innovation in Corporate Ethics. More recently, principal counsel, corporate secretary and manager of the corporate legal team, Mary Quazzo, won Legal Momentum’s Women of Achievement award for her work on the Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund (USA). Quazzo, who sits as secretary to the Bechtel Group board and audit committee, is a member of several groups committed to improving diversity, including Women@Bechtel, which helps to connect the company’s employees globally and promote the advancement of women in the workplace.
‘For the legal team, as well as for the entire company, the acquisition of CareFusion, which was far and away the largest acquisition in the company’s 118-year history, has to be one of our greatest achievements’, says vice president and general counsel Jeffrey Sherman. ‘Members of the legal team from virtually every legal practice area and region were involved in some aspect of the diligence or negotiation of this transaction that is compelling in strategic as well as financial terms’. When faced with the integration of the two legal teams which followed, they seized the opportunity to completely redesign and optimize the function. ‘To maximize efficiency and effectiveness, we retained an outside consultant to “start with a blank piece of paper”, and design a legal team structure’, Sherman explains. Sherman currently leads the medical technology specialist’s 113-strong global legal function from the US head office. Structured along distinct practice, regional and functional areas, the team includes all corporate secretarial, compliance and specialist IP support. Given the highly technical and regulated nature of the work, legal input remains a crucial part of all business decisions, Sherman explains. Sitting on the highest level decision-making committees in the company, he plays an integral role in acquisitions, divestiture and other business development activities. ‘The legal team is typically an enabler and enhancer of the company’s strategy and, as such, can impact strategic direction’, he says, adding: ‘similarly, our knowledge of current developments and trends in areas such as regulatory and IP law permits us to proactively influence business strategies’. Sherman believes the team’s identification of risks before they happen demonstrates their importance in the company’s sustained growth. Their forward-thinking cybersecurity strategy, in his view, is one example of this.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s lawyers are not only experts in their fields, but also fully imbibed with the feel-good factor of the organization they serve. Supporting what is to some ‘the largest and most important foundation in the world’, the legal function contributes to some of the world’s most sophisticated international aid projects within a highly ‘collaborative’ environment. Focused on global education, health and population initiatives, the foundation laid down significant resources to support efforts to scale up production and development of treatment across countries affected by the Ebola crisis. General counsel and former K&L Gates partner Connie Collingsworth uses her extensive corporate and nonprofit governance experience to develop ‘creative’ strategies around the foundation’s objectives. Pharmaceutical specialist Ruth Atherton and prominent non-profit lawyer Tamara Watts (both associate general counsels) were shortlisted for GC Powerlist 2014 US Rising Stars edition.
Global construction and engineering leader Black & Veatch’s 45-member legal, risk management and government affairs division, including 27 attorneys, has been central to several crucial company-wide initiatives. The team, which is divided into several business-specific and subject-matter units, is led by GC and former GC Powerlist top 100 in-house lawyer, Timothy W Triplett. Sitting on the executive board, Triplett is also the company’s ‘cultural champion’ and plays a central role in strategies to shift company-wide behavior in support of ongoing business growth. The team is responsible for implementation of a global compliance program; it is also working closely on Black & Veatch’s new ASPIRE (accountability shared ownership purpose integrity respect entrepreneurship stewardship) program. Triplett is leading the ASPIRE initiative both within his division and across the wider business. Team unity and common purpose as ‘business partners’ to all operating divisions is cited by litigation specialist Jennifer Shafer as a key tenant to the function’s success.
‘A diverse group of smart, talented lawyers who create innovative, business-oriented decisions’, BMO’s US team has raised the bar for both compliance and diversity within the industry, according to sources. Executive vice president and US general counsel Jeff Ellis heads overall strategic leadership, oversight and performance, alongside chief legal officer of US and personal banking Caroline Tsai. A multiple-industry award-winner, Tsai also co-chairs the women’s leadership committee of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association. Senior counsel John Vranicar recently drew attention for leading a wide-reaching policy and procedural review project that touched nearly every line of business. One of GC Powerlist’s US Rising Star, ‘supremely talented lawyer’ Andrew Karp has won respect among internal clients and external counsel alike, for his role in advancing the institution’s regulatory framework.
The Boeing law department supports the world’s largest aerospace company with activities in the design and manufacturer of commercial jetliners, spacecraft and related security systems. The law department is led by J Michael Luttig, executive vice president and general counsel. Luttig made big news in 2006 when he resigned from the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to take up his position at Boeing. Since joining, he and his team have continued to make news with their contributions to some of the company’s biggest deals. The law department has acted without the assistance of outside counsel on some of the highest value deals in the aerospace sector. In 2015 it helped seal a $4.2bn deal with cargo and package delivery company FedEX, agreeing to deliver 50 of its freight airplane models. The company has also recently reached a settlement with former workers over retirement and medical benefits following the sale of its operations in Wichita, Kansas. The $90m agreement was approved by US District Judge Monti Belot who ruled that Boeing’s treatment of the matter was ‘fair, reasonable and adequate’.
In the view of industry sources, Booz Allen Hamilton’s legal team has been central to facilitating the leading government contractor’s ‘smooth transition’ from part of The Carlyle Group’s portfolio to independent public company. In ‘helping the company build new capabilities in dynamic areas’, the department is particularly praised for its contribution to cybersecurity policy and its compliance support to an ongoing global expansion. ‘I believe our greatest achievement is the degree to which we have a voice at the table, in addition to just a seat there’, general counsel and ‘smart and practical-minded business person’s lawyer’ Nancy Laben says. ‘The business credibility we’ve established has allowed us to change the risk profile of the business itself as the firm moves into commercial and international markets that have very unique qualities’. The legal function has also worked closely with government agencies to improve ethics training and policy, establishing a chief ethics and compliance officer role and raising the profile of its ethics and business integrity office. Within a ‘deep and talented core of lawyers’, vice president and deputy GC William Meyers and GC Powerlist: US Rising Star Doug Manya are highly regarded.
The prominence of Boston Scientific’s legal team is reflected by the sprawling role US-based GC Timothy Pratt plays across the wider business. Heading all global legal, compliance, government affairs, marketing and corporate communications support, executive committee member Pratt’s multiple leadership roles include vice president and chief administrative officer. ‘My ultimate goal is to partner effectively, every day, with our clients to help them reach their goals’, Pratt says. ‘It is vital to me that every member of this department be seen as collaborative, communicative and facilitative’. Supporting an aggressive growth path over recent years, the US team has handled several significant transactions, including the recent $1.6bn acquisition of American Medical Services, which doubled the size of the company’s urology and pelvic health business. It has also led a number of significant disputes. Over the past seven years, the team has successfully reduced external legal spend by over 40%, through a variety of measures including alternative fee arrangements, ‘creative outsourcing and insourcing’ and preferred suppliers’ lists. As well as centralizing control of the function, Pratt has focused on optimizing efficiency. To this end, the department has taken on several strategic projects, including the development of a risk-management information system covering updates and costs in product liability cases. ‘Pratt has focused on building a more efficient in-house department that shoulders more responsibility’, according to one private practice lawyer. Reflecting the business’s trust in the legal function, the electronic discovery team was moved into its orbit. Much to the team’s credit, Boston Scientific is recognized globally for its contribution to promoting a culture of compliance and ethical behaviour across the medical device industry.
Headed by executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary Sandra Leung, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s US legal team is the leading component of a 350-strong global function that includes 114 lawyers. The team has made major advances toward efficiency and cost-effectiveness under Leung’s leadership. The dramatic overhaul of its law firm panel, for example, led to a significant reduction in legal spend. The team plays a central role in shaping the company’s strategy and also leads initiatives across environment, health and safety, corporate security and philanthropy. Routinely supporting global strategic transactions and projects, the legal team’s recent highlights include negotiating exclusive rights to obtain clinical-stage immunotherapy company, Promedior and worldwide rights to its lead asset, PRM-151.
Headed by chief legal officer and executive vice president of business affairs Jeffrey Gewirtz, Brooklyn Nets’ six-strong legal team negotiated the basketball team’s high-profile rebranding and relocation in 2012. As well as being the Nets’ new home, the iconic Barclays Center is also New York’s first new major sports and entertainment arena since 1968. The team’s work on the project’s development phase featured in the Sports Business Journal. Since the project’s completion, the legal team has divided its responsibilities between the former ‘New Jersey Nets’’ daily legal and business affairs, and managing ‘the most ambitious sports and entertainment venue in the country’. ‘The landmark 20-year Barclays Center facility naming rights alliance that Gewirtz helped negotiate is the largest transaction of its kind in history’, in the words of one source. The team has also led a number of major marketing and sponsorship alliances. Award-winning legal head, Gerwitz is recognized as one of the nation’s leading sports executives.
Supporting a central government body in one of America’s leading commercial centers, the California Department of Tax’s legal function routinely works on complex legislative initiatives. It is the legal team’s approach to talent-management which particularly sets it apart though. Having built relationships with leading law schools, the department is making it a focus to sell the appeal of the exciting alternative career path it can offer graduates. With fast-track progression, the team empowers even its most junior members to take ownership of projects and take on considerable responsibility early on in their careers.
Headed by senior executive vice president and chief legal officer, Larry Tu, CBS’s legal function has supported some of the most iconic national media projects of recent history. Tu’s former roles include NBC Entertainment’s executive vice president and GC. Spanning radio, local television, film, advertising and social media, the CBS portfolio includes the most watched television network in the US and one of the world’s largest libraries of entertainment content. Operating within a fast-paced environment, the legal function contains some of the leading media law experts in the US who combine strong technical expertise with exceptional industry understanding. CBS Corporation deputy general and CBS Television general counsel, Jonathan Anscell leads the company’s content protection program and has led best practice procedure across the business, He has specialist expertise in anti-piracy, IP and employment. With almost a decade’s prior experience across Viacom and Blockbuster, associate GC and co-IP head Rebecca Borden is highly regarded for her copyright and trademark expertise. She recently played a leading role in the anti-piracy program for CBS’s video content. Award-winning IP co-head Naomi Waltman and litigation specialist Anthony Bongiorno are also highly regarded.
Focused on private equity and distressed investments. Centerbridge handles some of the world’s most prominent pensions, endowments and sovereign wealth funds. Senior managing director Susanne Clark plays a central role in business operations and is active in several industry groups. Clark promotes industry engagement and proactivity amongst her team. With a motto of “thinking forward” her ‘department emphasizes a high touch relationship with each other group at the firm and strategic eye on developments outside the firm’. As a result, ‘we can rapidly bring thought leadership to our personnel, to the firm’s investors and outside the firm as its representatives’. ‘As the firm’s chief legal officer, Clark has built the firm’s legal and compliance department from the ground up’, says one private practice source. ‘Under her leadership it is recognized in the industry as running a world-class, best-of-breed program’. The function helped redesign one fund to create an innovative, tax-efficient structure which has been emulated within the wider industry. Centerbridge’s multi-disciplinary team is also strongly focused on exemplary corporate governance. ‘First and foremost, we embody an ethical and principled framework to guide behavior that is more than simply lawful’, Clark says. ‘It must be prudent and fair. Transparent. And timely!’ Making extensive use of bespoke technology, the function has developed a robust and advanced compliance framework. The function’s “think forward” brand has also drawn notice outside the organization, Clark says. ‘Industry groups, other firms, investors and even our own trusted advisors tell us often that they look to us as source of best ideas and practices’.
Supporting the nation’s largest producer of manufactured homes, modular homes, and mobile homes Clayton Homes’ nimble team stands out for its work ethic and commercial understanding. Operating at the heart of executive management, they are particularly praised for the strong regulatory framework they have formed and their proactive response to industry change. ‘They are extremely detail-oriented, are able to see around the corner and anticipate the next significant legal issue, and regularly look at the big picture and how rule changes fit in from a policy standpoint’, in the view of one bystander. General counsel Tom Hodges, previously recognized in GC Powerlist: US Rising Stars, represented national trade association Manufactured Housing Institute at the US House of Representatives’ subcommittees on financial institutions and consumer credit. Having built the legal department from scratch, he is particular praised for his role in implementing Dodd-Frank’s requirements into company procedure. ‘The smart, cohesive, and business-minded team Tom has built speaks volumes of his leadership as well as the skill of each of his team members’, says one private practice source.
Led by Arthur R Block, a legal veteran with over 35 years’ experience, the legal department at Comcast is comprised of subject matter experts from across all disciplines within the media and technology fields. Driven by a passion to solve problems and a desire to position their clients for success, the Pennsylvania-based team faces the challenging task of providing full legal support to the largest broadcasting and largest cable company in the world by revenue. Widely recognized for its exceptional quality of service and collaborative culture, the legal department supports the company’s operating activities across its two major subsidiaries: NBC Universal and Comcast Cable. Comcast’s legal team has played a central role in supporting the company’s efforts to move into the technology sector. The team has worked on the acquisition of This Media, an advertising insertion and scaled IP video back-office systems company. Other deals are potentially on their way and Comcast’s subsidiary, NBCUniversal is in talks to acquire several ‘new media’ companies including Vice Media, BuzzFeed, Business Insider and Vox Media. Comcast is currently facing an uncertain period with changes to internet regulation being put forward by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2015, preventing network owners from discriminating against the different kinds of traffic that runs over their networks. As a result of these ‘net neutrality’ laws, the company is likely to depend even more on the legal team’s expertise.
Headed by general counsel and senior vice president Amelia Smith, Conservation International’s legal function continues to support innovative global projects and campaigns. These have included the Carbon Fund, the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund and the Global Conservation Fund. The team actively supports the non-profit’s extensive advocacy efforts with the US Government.
Headed by award-winning GC and former US Rising Star Chris Garza, Cosentino’s nimble six-strong North American team supports the global building materials provider’s continued regional growth. Rated highly for its cohesion and work ethic, the function takes a close involvement in business strategy. It also leads the company’s innovative Fusion project, aiming to enhance communication with business operations across the region, whilst also supporting ongoing compliance initiatives. Serving 1000 employees in 40 locations across the US and Canada, the department works closely with the Spanish head office.
The Credit Suisse legal team has shown remarkable adaptability in recent years by successfully guiding the company through a period of unprecedented change in the banking industry. The New York-based team provides full legal support to Credit Suisse’s North operations. It is known in particular for having expertly dealt with the rapidly changing regulatory framework for structured finance and derivative products in the US since the beginning of the global financial crisis. Formed of lawyers with excellent commercial awareness and impressive ability to efficiently manage legal spend, the Credit Suisse legal department has built a sterling reputation for its capacity to integrate regulatory and compliance risk over the past few years. More recent cases for the Credit Suisse legal team include several lawsuits that date back to the roots of the global financial crisis. One important case has been the recent $10bn lawsuit by New York’s attorney general for the sale of mortgage-backed securities in 2008.
The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation is the premier post-trade market infrastructure for the global financial services industry. Headed by GC Powerlist-ranked general counsel Larry Thompson, corporate governance is key within its in-house legal function, which has been active in building best-in-class diversity, ethics and harassment policies. Thompson is particularly praised for his efforts to build positive relationships with unions. The team also leads interactions with global regulators and policymakers. DTCC’s recent advocacy on advancing the G20 transparency goals was a high profile example. Thompson addressed a US House of Representatives Committee on the issues on the fifth anniversary of the Dodd-Frank reforms in summer 2015.
Widely recognized in the financial services industry for the exceptional quality of its legal advice, the Discover Financial Services’ legal team received high praise from external nominators. The 40-strong team is led by seasoned lawyer Kelly McNamara Corley and credited for being ‘lean, nimble and alert to evolving issues and trends’. One of the secrets to Discover Financial Services’ success is Corley’s ability to integrate a mix of experienced and rising lawyers while recruiting ambitiously from other companies. This has allowed the team to reflect Discover Financial Services’ unique culture while remaining open to fresh ideas and perspectives. Several superstar lawyers have been at the heart of Discover Financial Services’ success in recent years. Corley’s right hand on many matters, deputy general counsel Nancy Brooks, is credited for being ‘smart and efficient’. Direct in her approach, Brooks expects the same high level of service from outside counsel. Brooks is known for her wide range of experience in a variety of areas ranging from transactional matters to consumer issues. Former head of litigation and current head of Discover Financial Services’ new center of excellence, David Oppenheim has been described as a ‘stellar lawyer and highly effective leader’. Oppenheim has an exceptional legal acumen but leads with a ‘gentle and quiet confidence’ that makes working with him a true pleasure for the rest of his team. The legal team also features up-and-coming rising stars, namely Maya Hill and Lisa Ellis, who have played critical roles in the resolution of recent disputes.
Regarded as ‘thought leaders’ in the company and beyond, EMC’s legal department has won numerous awards and accolades, with lawyers who are well known throughout the industry. General counsel Paul Dacier is chairman of the Massachusetts Judicial Nominating Commission and was president of the Boston Bar Association from 2013 to 2014. Appointed the company’s first in-house counsel in 1990, he has built the huge legal function from scratch, growing in pace with EMC’s own dramatic transformation during this time. Now operating across 17 offices in the US alone, 111 of its 165-strong global function are based domestically, with the rest split across 16 countries. The legal team, and deputy GC Susan Permut in particular, have played a leading role in building one of the most effective corporate governance programs in the industry. Divided along specialist legal lines, the team’s M&A division routinely supports highly complex strategic transactions, such as its award-winning Lenovo joint venture. Holding one of the largest and most significant patent portfolio in the US, EMC is recognized as a leading innovator with the IT sector. As well as driving the strategy at the heart of the business’s patent program, the legal function handles a large share of prosecution work. It has also helped spearhead the company’s campaign for legal reform over patent trolls, with deputy general counsel Krish Gupta leading advocacy on the issue.
Global chemical manufacturer Evonik’s ‘well-respected’, ‘stable’ and ‘knowledgeable’ US legal team has seen significant growth and development in response to the business’s ongoing regional expansion. North America GC, vice president and secretary Gregory Mulligan has built specialist streams into the team and has been highly effective in promoting lawyers’ business awareness, according to sources. Evonik has been through considerable change over recent years, and the US team has taken a leading role in a number of significant cross-border strategic transactions.
Headed by Alfred Pollard, Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Office of General Counsel has won recent acclaim through its handling of major Wall Street securities litigation. Equally important, in Pollard’s view, has been the department’s ‘central’ support to ‘the largest and longest financial conservatorships in American history’. Supporting the Agency’s dual-function of supervising and examining Federal Home Loans Banks, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is complex enough. At the same time, the multi-disciplinary department fulfils the wide-reaching legal and regulatory needs of the federal agency’s day-to-day operations. ‘Our basic premise every day is that our team can undertake all legal work in-house’, Pollard says. ‘Where we have specialized needs, such as litigation, we then look for outside support’. Fulfilling the needs of a 500-strong federal agency keeps the department’s 32-lawyers stretched to full capacity. While Pollard’s team is structured along specialist lines, members are known to turn their hands to anything, within a ‘very flat structure’, Pollard explains. ‘I see an office made up of highly qualified lawyers and other professionals. At certain points in time, if we need an extra hand or a new issue suddenly appears, I can just walk down the hall and say: “All right – who can help?” The group is very collegial and very responsive to our agency’s needs’. The team played a central role in the FHFA’s 2008 formation, managing the integration of three separate agencies’ legal and agency staff. Setting up ‘during a period of historic turmoil with a steady and workman-like approach’ was not easy, Pollard concedes.
The legal affairs of FMC Technologies, a leading provider of equipment and services to the energy industry with 20,000 employees and operations spread across 16 countries, are managed by a well-organized and highly ambitious team of 12 lawyers based in Houston, Texas. The team is led by senior vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary Dianne Ralston. With 20 years of combined legal, compliance and contractual experience in the oil and gas industry, Ralston is among the leading lawyers in her sector. Her team shares the vision of being a working unit ‘committed to the success of FMC Technologies’, rather than being merely a collection of lawyers. Among the most successful and innovative in-house teams in the US, FMC Technologies’ legal department ‘punches far above its weight’ and is credited with facilitating the company’s exponential growth with revenues rising from $1.8bn to $7.5bn over the last 12 years. The team has demonstrated exceptional leadership and innovation in this time, delivering value and high performance year on year. Since Ralston’s appointment as general counsel in January 2015, the team has navigated through a number of big mandates, such as the signing of a frame agreement for technology development with French energy producer Total, and several important oil and gas deals in Asia.
With around 1,200 lawyers worldwide, General Electric’s legal team is seen as one of its main strengths, helping the company to maintain its high levels of performance in an ethical and compliant way. Brackett B Denniston has been senior vice president and general counsel of General Electric since 2004 and is responsible for the company’s legal operations across all its operating sites and business divisions. The team has recently helped structure and negotiate many of General Electric’s ongoing business transactions, including a $26.5bn sell-off of GE real estate assets. The legal team has also been active in a divestment of significant parts of the company’s capital finance arm and the $9bn acquisition of French company Alstom’s power business. In these and many other transactions, the legal team has shown the breadth of its expertise and played an integral role in delivering value by realizing the company’s strategy of returning to its industrial and manufacturing roots.
Headed by general counsel Dan Troy, multinational pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)’s innovative legal department is committed to developing talent. In recent years, assistant general counsel Brennan Torregrossa has gained significant recognition for creating, developing and integrating two best-in-class legal programs for the global legal team: MASTER (maximizing aavings through early resolution) and NESTOR (negotiation excellence skills training for optimal results). These programs are designed to develop GSK lawyers’ commercial thinking, helping to focus legal solutions on business problems. With over 85% of all GSK lawyers having completed MASTER, the legal team makes huge cost savings through early case settlements by training lawyers to make informed and expedited decisions at the earliest possible stage in disputes. ‘It has changed our dispute resolution culture’, said Torregrossa. ‘When I hear a GSK executive say that he or she thinks we need to “MASTER” an issue, it puts a smile on my face. It is like using the word “google” as a verb’. The NESTOR training program, which helps develop negotiation skills, has been completed by over 50% of GSK lawyers. A third program, OSCI (outside counsel selection initiative), was pioneered in recent years by Bob Harchut, vice president of global external legal relations. OSCI is a reverse auction program run in conjunction with GSK’s procurement team that allows firms to submit competitive fee proposals for GSK’s tenders. Senior vice president PD Villarreal handles GSK’s global litigation activities within the dispute resolution and prevention department, a name chosen to reflect the MASTER strategy. In addition, Villarreal has a close working relationships with the global HR team when hiring, promoting and recruiting staff. Together they devised a hands-on recruitment process which involves the whole DRP team interviewing finalists to ensure they find a candidate who will further enhance the quality of the team.
Google’s original goal was to ‘organize the world’s information’, and since its early years the company has relied on the organizational skills of its lawyers to manage the complexities of its operations. A legal team of more than 500 people are tasked with keeping on top of a dizzying array of issues, and as counsel to one of the world’s most innovative companies, Google’s lawyers regularly find themselves operating in unchartered waters. As recent and ongoing negotiations over the European Union’s “right to be forgotten” legislation demonstrates, the Google legal team is consistently redefining the boundaries of law. From dealing with the copyright issues that allow the libraries of the world to be digitized to negotiating the international law aspects of the ‘science fiction’ technologies developed at the company’s pioneering Google X facility, the team is answering legal questions that few others have been able to ask. The diverse day-to-day activities of the Google team are overseen by senior vice president and general counsel Kent Walker, a tech industry veteran with more than 20 years’ worth of experience. The list of recent legal battles that Walker’s formidable team has engaged in underscores their value to the company. Last year Google’s lawyers successfully settled a $1bn suit dating back to 2007 alleging that Google-owned YouTube had posted Viacom content without seeking permission. Other notable figures include Mary O’Carroll, head of legal operations. O’Carroll is not a lawyer by training, a fact which has contributed to her ability to think laterally about legal procurement processes. Under her watch Google has serially invented and adopted new ways to work with outside counsel, helping to remove inefficiencies and shave millions off the company’s legal costs each year.
World-leading industrial packaging producer Greif’s five-lawyer function, split across the US and Amsterdam, remains small by design. ‘At the end of the day, by any statistical compilation, we are well below the benchmarks for how large a legal department should be based on company size’, general counsel Gary Martz concedes. ‘I think one of our greatest achievements as a department is that we remain a very small department in a very large and complicated company. We add value by making sure we perform the right kind of work and ship out to outside counsel other work that we think isn’t as value-added. We then really try to push back into the businesses for other solutions’. As well as keeping legal spend down, the advantage from Martz’s point of view is keeping the team very close to the business. Employing a formal business-partner program, every business line and geography has its own go-to lawyer, as well as having a direct line to the GC. ‘Because we understand the business, we understand how it makes money, we understand the challenges they face and we understand what we need to do to be successful on a firsthand basis because we live it with them’. The team has also worked hard to get the most out of its relationships with outside counsel, negotiating competitive fees and building relationships with an elite group. ‘In the long-run you need to create situations where the outside counsel and the company both win’, Martz warns though. ‘Short term, you can have some spikes and one person can feel that they didn’t get what they should have, but you can’t do that in the long-run’. What is most remarkable about the team’s size is its effective support of Greif’s aggressive growth over recent years. As well as leading huge strategic transactions, the legal team has also maneuvered significant regulatory challenges, owing to their large product share. A member of the executive team, Martz is highly regarded both internally and externally and was recognized in GC Powerlist’s 2013 US guide.
HCP’s legal team has drawn positive attention through the leadership of its executive vice president, chief administrative officer and general counsel, Jim Mercer. ‘Under Jim’s supervision, the legal team has been seamlessly intertwined within our business’, said Lauralee Martin, president and CEO of HCP. ‘The team’s ability to execute complex real estate and financial transactions and provide strategic advice has contributed to the company’s overall success.’ The HCP legal team is also involved in a significant amount of the company’s other functional areas, including financial disclosures, corporate governance, human resources, and the company’s sustainability initiatives and reporting.
John Schultz, executive vice president and general counsel of Hewlett-Packard, is a strong leader, skilled negotiator and commendable champion of pro bono work. Under Schultz’s guidance, the Hewlett-Packard legal department has, in addition to their many other pro bono activities, formed a relationship with Street Law to develop its Corporate Legal Diversity Program. Since 2010, over 100 members of Hewlett-Packard’s legal team have joined the scheme and contributed thousands of hours of early-stages legal tuition and career advice to hundreds of school at a number of sites across the US. Other leading figures in the team include Margaret Chu Ikeya, senior director and managing counsel. An IP expert who has led negotiations for some of the company’s most important patents transactions in recent years, Ikeya has been with Hewlett-Packard since 2013 and is recognized as one of the rising stars of US corporate counsel.
Honeywell is a world leader in the design and manufacture of a portfolio of industrial goods ranging from aerospace technology to specialty chemicals. With around 250 lawyers overseeing a diverse product line in a number of markets globally, the Honeywell legal team faces formidable challenges in keeping on top of things. Not least of these is managing legal spend. In an effort to control costs and encourage innovation amongst its suppliers, the Honeywell legal team has recently turned to reverse e-auctions to help it find the best counsel at the best rate. Under this system firms must bid against each other to offer a fixed price, even for highly specialized tenders. General counsel Katherine Adams is one of the leading corporate counsel in the US and has contributed significantly to the diversity agenda. She is a member of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) and sits on the steering committee of the Honeywell Women’s Council.
A world-leading manufacturer of agricultural equipment, John Deere is at the forefront of the design and production of machines. Recently it has also taken a lead in developing and protecting the software systems that power its equipment. As such, the John Deere legal team, led by senior vice president and general counsel Mary Jones, finds itself at the cutting edge of US IP law. The team has been involved in a recent high-profile Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) defense of the software embedded in its agricultural equipment. By taking the lead on this issue, the lawyers at John Deere are responding to issues that will increasingly shape product innovation. The company’s lawyers have also been active in acquiring telematics businesses, helping to cement John Deere’s reputation as a leader in next generation high-performance equipment.
With hundreds of subsidiary entities spread across three sectors – pharmaceuticals, consumer health care products and medical devices – Johnson & Johnson’s activities are broad enough to stretch even the strongest legal team. Fortunately it has a stalwart general counsel, Michael Ullmann, at the helm to manage the many legal challenges the company faces. Ullmann has been with Johnson & Johnson for more than 25 years, during which time he also served as general counsel of the company’s medical devices unit. He commands a team whose experience and achievements are lauded by many of the external law firms that work with them. For more than 70 years, Johnson & Johnson has been guided by ‘Our Credo’; a one-page statement of the company’s principles. The legal team is no exception to this and places great emphasis on helping the company realize these principles in a legal and ethical way.
The legal team at the property management company is co-ordinated globally via its legal executive group which comprises leadership for each major region and its major business groups. Overall the team is 120 lawyers spread around 20 countries but with operations spread over 80 countries, lawyers will often take responsibility for more locations than just their home base. Significant achievements for the legal team include the development and implementation of its Ethics Everywhere programme, which provides joined up thinking and training for ethics around all of the company’s global operations. A team of ethics officers, who are generally also functioning as the regional general counsel, maintains the ethics code. Aspects of the programme have included on investigations manual for the company, in person training programmes, banner advertising and email campaigns. This focus is paying off as the company has been named one of the world’s most ethical companies eight years in a row. General counsel Mark Ohringer promotes a culture of mutual respect, democracy and giving the team control of their work and their lives. ‘We’re not very hierarchical,’ he explains, ‘anyone can call me or the rest of the leadership team at any time.’ But he explains its also about empowering his employees, ‘we try and treat everyone like grown ups allowing them freedom over their time management and making them continually feel like this is a place where they can still make an impact.’ The legal team also creates opportunities for its lawyers to shape their own destiny as much as possible, ‘So if folks have a project or something they want to do we try and take that into account as much as possible’, explains assistant general counsel Kathryn “Rindy” Ditmars. The legal team has also created its “just in time” awards which are monetary awards for good service to recognise instances where its lawyers go above and beyond.
JPMorgan Chase’s legal team has dealt with some of the most high- profile law suits of the past decade, helping to protect the company’s interests while guiding it through an increasingly challenging regulatory landscape. The bank’s long-serving and phenomenally successful general counsel, Stephen Cutler, moved to become vice chairman and senior adviser to the chief executive in July 2015, underscoring the extent to which the JPMorgan Chase legal team is viewed as a ‘trusted advisor’ to the business. He will be replaced by Stacey Friedman, who currently sits as general counsel of JPMorgan Corporate & Investment Bank. Just as central to the organization’s success has been JPMorgan Chase’s litigation department, headed by Jill Centella. The litigation department works closely with the bank’s other legal teams to resolve some of the biggest problems facing the bank, whether in the form of disputes with private litigants or investigations and enforcement actions by regulators and other government entities. The Chase consumer bank legal team, led by Stephen Simcock, handles legal matters for a wide range of products and services, from private wealth to auto loans and mortgages. The 550-strong consumer legal team has also been a prominent supporter of the bank’s ReEntry program, which offers a paid internship and mentorship program to help those who left the financial services industry in order to care for children or parents return to work. The program is led by Julie Lepri, senior vice president and general counsel of consumer banking and operations & controls.
Kellogg’s’ US team stands out for its sophisticated corporate governance framework and a proactive commercial approach. The control center of all global legal support, the US team’s central role in business operations radiates from the top down. Senior vice president, general counsel and secretary, Gary Pilnick sits on the global leadership team and has headed corporate development since 2004. Organized into specialist global streams, US lawyers work closely with their counterparts around the world to identify and tackle industry trends. At the same time specialist support is dispersed across business lines to ensure legal issues are considered at all stages of strategic planning. Publicly recognized for its outstanding track record on equality, the Kellogg’s diversity and inclusion framework includes eight employee resource groups. Award-winning global employment head and GC Powerlist US Rising Star, Norma Barnes-Euresti, is executive sponsor of company-wide LGBT group, “K-Pride & Allies”.
Kinder Morgan is the largest energy infrastructure company in North America with an enterprise value of $130bn. It owns and operates approximately 84,000 miles of pipelines and 165 terminals. The legal team is led by vice president and general counsel, David R. DeVeau. Last year DeVeau and his team were called upon to help Kinder Morgan complete the second largest energy deal in history, which established it as the largest midstream energy company in North America. This transaction involved the acquisition of the outstanding equity securities of Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, L.P., Kinder Morgan Management, LLC and El Paso Pipeline Partners, L.P. for approximately $76bn. The transaction required the legal team to simultaneously orchestrate three public company transactions while also handling significant finance, litigation, corporate law and tax considerations. Completing such a deal in the narrow timeframe allotted to the legal team is ‘unheard of even in a single transaction, let alone three public company acquisitions occurring all at the same time’. DeVeau describes his team’s role on this deal as a ‘microcosm of their overall work’ for the company, showcasing the complexities of a typical Kinder Morgan transaction. The deal was described by those who have worked with DeVeau as ‘by far and away the most complex transaction that any of the legal teams involved have ever worked on’.
The legal department at Liberty Mutual, one of the largest property and casualty insurance companies in the US, is well known for its commitment to pro bono work. Run by senior corporate counsel Kathleen McGrath, the Liberty Mutual pro bono program provides free legal services to a number of charitable causes and community outreach initiatives. The pro bono program has now been in operation for over 20 years and has helped serve, among others, the homeless, those in low income housing, and victims of domestic abuse in the Boston. It also offers an afterschool legal education program for school children. The legal team is led by James Kelleher, senior vice president and chief legal officer. Kelleher has been with the company for more than 20 years and excels in litigation and corporate and commercial matters. Liberty Mutual has recently inaugurated a professorship at the University of Boston – the Liberty Mutual Insurance Professor of Law – with a $3.1m endowment. This is a further sign of the commitment the legal team and wider company have made to using law to promote the public good.
As counsel to one of the nation’s best known sports’ organizations, Major League Baseball’s legal team is at the forefront of US IP, media and technology law. The department supported the 2015 launch of MLB’s At Bat App in conjunction with Apple TV, allowing two games to be streamed simultaneously. It also made headlines in 2012 with its crackdown on counterfeit merchandise during the World Series. Headed up by long-standing senior vice president and general counsel Ethan Orlinsky, the organization’s anti-counterfeiting team worked closely with the police and US immigration and security in one of the largest operations of its kind. The department has also supported a long line of high-profile legal disputes involving major figures in the sporting world.
Led by Bill Ordower, senior vice president and general counsel, Major League Soccer’s legal function is supporting the organization through an exciting period of its history. Managing a diet of major marketing and sponsorship transactions, the function is playing a central role in making the 20 year old league’s mission to become one of the best in the world by 2022 a reality. MLS is currently in talks over the possible launch of an Anglo-US tournament with the Premier League. Other significant projects have included the relaunch of MLSsoccer.com, the League’s 2010 expansion to Philadelphia, followed by Portland and Vancouver in 2011 and Montreal in 2012. The legal department is also supporting ongoing efforts to finalize David Beckham’s anticipated franchise with the league. A seasoned industry professional, Ordower was behind the League’s innovative Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program, and previously worked with tennis and basketball agents at ProServ. Vice president Dimitrios Efstathiou and senior counsel Guiselle Torres are also highly recommended.
At the heart of the global function, Markit’s US team has supported the ‘startling growth’ from 2001 start-up to major public company. A ‘dynamic, cutting-edge’ business, Markit is today the world’s largest diversified financial information provider. Operating within ‘a notably active and aggressive transactional practice’, the team’s biggest landmark along the way has been its complex $1.3bn IPO in 2014. It has also maneuvered significant government antitrust investigations and major litigation. Though she was only recently promoted, general counsel and ‘first-rate technical lawyer’ Sari Granat is credited not only with weathering substantial legal and regulatory challenges, but also ‘recruiting and mentoring an outstanding in-house team’. As Granat explains, the highly technical nature of Markit’s business means legal is, by necessity, involved in all business strategy from its embryonic beginnings. ‘The modern financial markets and the ever-changing regulatory and legal landscape in which Markit operates are some of the most complex and challenging of any sector’, opines one private practice source. ‘These often conflicting global regulatory and legal requirements directly affect the products and services Markit is able to provide to its customers and therefore drive its business strategy, M&A activity and revenue generation’. The team has developed a variety of innovative software to handle its diverse caseload efficiently and empower the business in more technical matters. These have included its new ‘Markit Clear’ multiparty arrangement which facilitates full electronic settlement of syndicated loan trades. It is also working with Thomson Reuters and nine investment banks and brokers on a new industry-wide messaging service.
The power of Merck’s US legal team hangs upon the quality and experience of its personnel. Taking a central involvement in business strategy, it has won respect across internal clients and the law firms it instructs through its effective management of major litigation. With a wide responsibility including corporate communication, ethics, privacy and government affairs, the team has worked closely with the US Human Health Division on policy issues. Appointed GC in 2015, Michael Holston had already made a considerable contribution to both the function and wider operations as chief ethics and compliance officer and through his place on the executive team. With former roles including Hewlett Packard’s GC and Morgan, Lewis and Bockius partner, Holston is regarded as a leading regulatory expert, with experience in a variety of sectors. The legal function has previously attracted praise for its management the major VIOXX litigation.
The Microsoft legal team has helped the company remain strong in the face of tough global competition. With its astonishing record of success in litigation and patent battles, the legal team is the envy of companies the world over. It has also played a leading role in shaping new data privacy and data security laws globally. More recently, the legal team has helped create Microsoft’s cybercrime center in Redmond, Washington. This state-of-the-art center will utilize the company’s legal and technical expertise to open a new chapter in the fight against internet and cybercrime. Deputy general counsel Mary Snapp is one of the most active promoters of diversity in the US corporate legal space. Snapp is executive sponsor of Microsoft’s legal and corporate affairs diversity and inclusion team. Under her direction, the company is incentivizing outside counsel to promote a greater diversity of talent. For the last 13 years, Microsoft’s formidable legal team has been led by Brad Smith. Smith is not only an expert lawyer, but has worked tirelessly to advance a diversity and pro bono agenda in the company and beyond. In recognition of his many contributions to Microsoft, he has recently been elected as the company’s first president since 2002. In his new role as company president and chief legal officer Smith will take charge of non-legal affairs and lead on new projects. He will also oversee Microsoft’s intellectual property portfolio, patent licensing, government affairs and social responsibility work. It is unusual for a lawyer to be given such a wide-ranging role, and Smith’s promotion underscores the integral part the legal team plays in the company’s value creation.
In the last quarter of 2014, Morgan Stanley’s legal spend fell by around 80% compared with the previous year. In part, this fall reflects the cooling of market investigations into financial institutions. However, the reduced spend can also be attributed to the activities of general counsel Eric Grossman, a litigation expert responsible for overseeing Morgan Stanley’s advisory law and litigation on a global basis. While the fall-out from the global financial crisis continues to severely damage a number of financial institutions, the Morgan Stanley legal team is credited with significantly reducing the company’s exposure to legacy risks. Its skilled approach to litigation has been consistent with the management team’s call to ‘put the trouble from the financial crisis clearly in the rearview mirror’. Among its many achievements, the legal team has recently won dismissal for a number of mortgage-backed security claims by HSH Nordbank and Carrera Capital Finance.
2015 has been an important one for the National Football League (NFL) and its legal team. Led by senior vice president and chief litigation officer Anastasia Danias, the legal team oversaw successes in Dryer v NFL and related cases. The high-profile right of publicity cases was originally brought in 2009 by retired players over the NFL’s use of old game action footage in television broadcasts. The legal team suggested authorizing NFL’s activities while creating a licensing agency protecting future rights and establishing a $42m Greater Good Fund supporting wellness programs for those affected. In October 2014 the District of Minnesota awarded the NFL summary judgment after the plaintiffs rejected the settlement, and in May 2015 the Eighth Circuit of Appeals finally approved the settlement. The ‘innovative’ structure put forward was, in the view of one source, ‘instrumental in resolving the class action’. The NFL’s legal team also made news in a separate case for a settlement agreed with over 4,500 retired players who had suffered concussion-related trauma during their playing days. The $900m settlement includes significant compensation over the next 65 years to more than 20,000 retired players and provides baseline testing for potential brain impairment, counselling and treatment. District Court Judge (Philadelphia) Anita Brody, called the settlement ‘fair, reasonable and adequate’.
‘The team’s greatest achievements internally are positive working relationships, good response time and communication’, says Neiman Marcus legal head and ‘top-notch lawyer’, Tracy Preston. ‘These develop relationships of trust and confidence with our business clients in all areas of the company’. Neiman Marcus’ ‘smart’ and ‘diversely talented’ ten-strong US legal function has been kept busy over recent years, supporting the luxury fashion retailer through sustained international growth, including significant strategic transactions. These have included: the company’s high-profile $6bn sale to funds managed by Ares Management and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board in 2013; the purchase of Munich-based MyTheresa and the 2014 divestiture of a strategic investment in China. ‘One of the biggest challenges our team has faced was running a dual track of selling the company and an IPO process in 2013’, Preston says. ‘Additionally, our team has faced transitioning the new ownership of the company, new leadership within the company, and the ever-changing legal landscape, especially in luxury e-commerce and technology’. ‘Dynamic and accomplished’, Preston is a respected figure in her own right, having won Dallas Business Journal’s “2015 Women in Business” award. ‘Dedicated, methodical and pragmatic’, she is known for her strong commercial focus and results-driven approach. With previous roles including Levi Strauss’ chief compliance officer and chief counsel and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe partner, she has proven her worth as a lawyer and industry expert. Split across specialist streams, covering both legal and compliance, her team reports directly to the chief operating and chief financial officers. The legal team’s role in making business decisions is demonstrated by Preston’s membership of the senior executive management team. ‘On both the micro and macro levels, the legal department impacts and guides the strategic plans of the company’, Preston says. ‘From individual consulting on a specific issue affecting one department to an all-hands-on approach of a company-wide initiative, such as the sale of the company, our department exemplifies true legal partnership with the business’. When it comes to developing her team, Preston believes things need to be viewed from both ‘individual and team perspectives’, trying to work to individuals’ strengths and interests, while ensuring overall accountability and ‘transparency’.
Nike’s legal team, led by Hilary Krane, supports one of the world’s largest and best known athletic shoes and apparel brands, with over 700 shops and offices in 46 countries. The team engages with nearly every business group within Nike and its subsidiaries and is segmented by legal subject matter areas, including intellectual property, corporate governance, employment, litigation, business services, brand services and sports marketing. With a good mix of generalists and specialists who embody the company’s broader vision, the team proactively participate in the development of the long term strategic direction of the company. Nike’s legal team is able to provide concise advice while adding clear commercial value to the business and is described as the ‘offensive line’ of the company: ‘while it doesn’t score the touchdowns, it does the work that make victories possible’. The past few years have seen the legal department work through a number of complicated issues ranging from intellectual property to ethics and compliance-related work to complex international litigation. 2015 has been a busy year for the legal team, with the company involved in three major legal struggles: a dispute over a copyright concerning its iconic “Jumpman” logo, a dispute between Nike and adidas with respect to a patent for knitted running shoes and a lawsuit against three former employees accused of taking trade secrets to a competitor. In handling these and other matters the legal team has proved itself to be a core part of Nike’s identity and values.
With $103bn of funds under management, Los Angeles-headquartered alternative investments company Oaktree Capital Management needs legal counsel that understand the nature of the assets it is working with. Fortunately, it has a legal team that is filled with some of stars of the US in-house market. General counsel and chief administrative officer Todd Molz is recognized as a leading expert on structuring and executing complex transactions. The legal team faced a stiff test when Oaktree went public in 2011, but through solid tax and structuring advice it helped the company thrive. Molz is praised for maintaining a strong legal department in a company that acts to the highest performance and ethical standards. The team includes notable individuals such as Richard Ting, managing director and associate general counsel, and Jay Ghiya, managing director. Ting is one of the world’s leading lawyers in the field of distressed debt and alternative asset management and has been praised by law firms for his business judgement. Ghiya plays an active role in coordinating outside counsel and has developed a standardized process to help manage the company’s global panel of firms.
When PDT spun off from Morgan Stanley, ‘very adept lawyer’ Dede Welles led the legal aspects of separation from her former employer, while continuing the boutique investment advisor’s day-to-day operations. ‘The firm never stopped trading’, Welles says. ‘We basically had two years where we had to separate ourselves from Morgan Stanley – which sounds like a long time, but it was actually fairly frantic’. Amid the complex process of establishing PDT as a separate legal entity, Welles also had to build all processes from scratch. It is a combination of cohesion, expertise and approach which has won the resultant legal team the greatest respect from peers. ‘Dede and her team work in a highly collaborative way’, according to one private practice lawyer. ‘Dede is careful to incorporate the input of each of her team members into her approach, and information is shared efficiently amongst the team’. Welles herself says the formation of her six-strong team is the one thing she is most proud of. ‘We all chip in and do what’s needed, when it’s needed, and because of that, there’s just a lot of trust amongst us and a lot of appreciation – if that makes sense –’, she says. ‘We’re a very open group and we don’t just share the less glamorous stuff, but also the more interesting stuff’. When it comes to recruiting lawyers to work in this highly technical industry, ‘attention to detail’ is key, Welles says, and something which is worked carefully into their selection process. ‘Risk management is at the heart of Dede’s approach’, and operating within a considered and tailored compliance framework, the team handles a large proportion of work in house, using outside counsel sparingly. Given the highly specialized nature of PTD’s work, Welles feels this approach is highly necessary. ‘Outside counsel doesn’t know the business as well, so there’s nuances or risks that they just may not think of – in fact, they won’t think of, because they won’t know they exist’.
Set apart by its superior corporate governance program, global food and beverages leader PepsiCo’s US legal function supports 22 brands across 200 territories. Heading up the worldwide function, the national team also manages government affairs, global compliance and the PepsiCo foundation. At the helm of the cross-functional department since 2014, ‘world-class’ general counsel Tony West works closely with the CEO on the executive team, cementing the legal team’s wide-reaching influence across the business. West has strong credentials for the task, having previously served as the United States Department of Justice’s associate attorney general. As a result, he is well placed to lead up the team’s considerable involvement in PepsiCo’s governance and public policy activities.
‘Brian Chevlin, general counsel at Pernod Ricard USA, has created a new in-house legal department that is more commercial and responsive to the needs of the business’, says one private practice lawyer. Pernod Ricard’s national legal team has impressed with its cost-saving measures, such as the ‘sophisticated’ use of discovery vendors. It also excelled in its management of the company’s 2014 victory in a trademark dispute with a Russian-controlled entity concerning Stolichnaya vodka. Audrey Yayon-Dauvet, vice president of legal & public affairs is particularly recommended, with strong technical experience including complex contractual and IP issues. ‘Audrey’s logically forceful yet nuanced approach to negotiating tends to win the day’, in the view of one private practice observer.
A division of United Technologies Corp, Pratt & Whitney is a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft engines, space propulsion systems and industrial gas turbines. Headed by general counsel Joseph Santos, the company’s ‘world-class in-house team’ is split along its specialist business lines, utilizing ACE (achieving competitive excellence) principles to optimize service to internal clients. Within a relatively flat structure, lawyers take on high levels of responsibility from an early stage of their careers with the company within a highly collaborative environment. ‘One of the things I’m really proud of is they are a true team’, GC Powerlist: US Rising Star, Raja Maharajh says of the division he leads. ‘Workloads may fluctuate, there’s no need to ask someone to help because they’ll come to you offering help’. Supporting the commercial engines and aftermarket business, Maharajh is known for his superior industry knowledge and his supportive managerial style. Working closely with other business functions, his team has played a key role in securing lucrative contracts to sell thousands of geared turbo fan engines worldwide. ‘We negotiated numerous partnerships to share the risk and the rewards of those programs with a number of the world’s leading industrial manufacturers’, Maharajh explains. ‘We did all of this with minimal reliance on outside counsel and with a strong spirit of teamwork and cooperation in order to accomplish key business objectives with an appropriate level of risk’.
The legal team at Prudential Financial is led by executive vice president and general counsel Susan Blount. Blount is known as one of the top general counsel in the insurance industry. She commands an equally impressive team that is able to draw on a wide range of experience and capabilities to help protect the company and its customers in the complex post-financial crisis environment. As one of the largest insurers in the US, Prudential Financial has been designated as a ‘systemically important financial institution’ (SIFI) – or ‘too big to fail’ – by the Financial Stability Oversight Council of US regulators. The legal team has been mounting an ongoing challenge against its SIFI designation while managing the significantly enhanced regulatory scrutiny the company is now operating under. At the same time, the team continues to help on both the buy- and sell-side of M&A transactions, assist domestic and international clients, and advise the business on future operational and regulatory risks. Other notable figures in the legal team include Harry Mixon, vice-president and corporate counsel at the Prudential Insurance Company of America, Prudential Financial’s main subsidiary. Mixon is known as one of the sharpest in-house lawyers in the US. Chief tax officer James Shea is an active figure on Capitol Hill where he frequently debates tax issues facing the life insurance industry with Congress, Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
With operations in 29 states, the Pulte Group is one of the largest homebuilders in the US. In spite of Pulte Group’s size and significance, the legal team manages to keep on top of a large workload with fewer than 20 lawyers. The legal team recently introduced an enterprise risk management program to facilitate continued risk assessment and reporting, ensuring all staff have a clear picture of the key business risks the company is facing. The legal department has made further efforts to reduce the legal risk Pulte Group faces by introducing a law department dashboard. Described as ‘Cliff Notes for all of the business’s legal matters’, this one-page snapshot of legal issues is sent quarterly to each business unit, highlighting pressing issues, legal fees spent, insured and uninsured claims, and the top ten loss recoveries. General counsel Steven Cook is known for his commitment to his team’s personal development and encourages senior attorneys to shadow key business leaders and learn more about Pulte Group’s commercial drivers. According to the company’s Gallup scores measuring staff satisfaction and the extent to which direct reports feel they have the right tools for professional development, Cook is himself among the top leaders in the company. The legal team has also achieved notable results in its management of external counsel and hosts an annual law summit that allows firms to familiarize themselves with the issues Pulte Group is facing. Underscoring Cook’s commitment to promoting diversity, the forthcoming summit will present an award to the firm that has placed the greatest emphasis on the issue over the past 12 months.
As one of the leading providers in the defense space, Raytheon needs a legal team that can juggle commercial awareness across a number of cutting-edge industries, with a deep-seated knowledge of regulatory and procurement processes. In the past months, the manufacturer of world-renowned Patriot Air and Missile Defense Systems has secured a number of high-profile government contracts around the world, helping it to leapfrog competitors in the defense sector. Earlier this year, the company acquired cybersecurity company Websense for $1.9bn. This complex transaction required expert input from the in-house team and ultimately saw Raytheon close a deal that will considerably strengthen its cyber products division. General counsel Frank R Jimenez, appointed earlier this year, is one of the most experienced defense industry lawyers in the world. Prior to his entry into the in-house legal world, he served as the deputy general counsel of the US Department of Defense and the general counsel of the US Navy. His team includes such notable figures as senior counsel Richard Calame, a seasoned M&A lawyer who has been with the company for a decade, and Dana Ng, who serves as vice president, legal for corporate transactions and securities. Ng has a reputation as one of the most talented transactional and corporate governance lawyers in the US.
Headed by general counsel William Lowrey, Shell’s national legal function continues to support its biggest and most high-profile projects and transactions domestically and internationally. As well as successfully negotiating US regulator-approval for the proposed BG merger, the team has supported all aspects of its recently aborted arctic exploration. Internally, the function’s strategic partner program has revolutionized law firm instruction and internal client service, focusing on quality, cost-effectiveness and diversity. With over 30 years’ experience at the global oil and gas leader, Lowrey is experienced in all facets of exploration and production and has supported some of the landmark developments in the company’s history.
The global law and corporate affairs department at Starbucks is made up of over 210 personnel in 16 offices around the world covering both legal affairs and compliance. According to general counsel Lucy Lee Helm, what makes Starbucks a great employer is ‘providing inspiring and challenging work. Having a clear mission and values and living up to them. Having leaders who lead by example, with integrity, clarity, authenticity and purpose. Embracing diversity and inclusion. Having strategies for the future that encourage both excellent performance and leading “through the lens of humanity.”’ What makes the legal team and its general counsel tick is knowing everything about the company not just legal issues. ‘This company is so relationship-based that people are very willing to take the time to teach you and immerse you in what they do,’ according to Helm. The legal team has a long standing commitment to diversity and inclusion and each year surveys outside counsel on their commitment to this and rewards the firm which it feels is making the most progress for it’s Excellence in Diversity Award.
The US Environmental Protection Agency faces still opposition from a wide range of commercial and lobbying bodies. Its technically agile lawyers have defended multiple challenges to greenhouse gas regulations over recent years, including actions by industry coalitions before the Supreme Court. The legal team is also praised highly for its defense against complex and wide-reaching opposition to the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule from the nation’s energy sector. With two decades’ worth of environmental experience, general counsel Avi Garbow has served a long tenure with the government agency and is a regular speaker on key issues. During this time he has provided comprehensive support to wide-reaching initiatives, with complex legal and policy implications.
Supporting the launch of internationally renowned exhibitions and projects, MoMA’s legal team continues to support the cutting edge of the nation’s arts scene. General counsel and secretary since 1998, Patty Lipshutz has nearly 30 years’ experience across the profit and not-for-profit sectors, including time as senior vice president and GC at St Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital. Deputy general counsel Nancy Adelson and associate general counsel Alexis Sandler are also highly recommended. Over recent years Lipshutz’s experienced, full-service team has supported the museum’s expansion and purchase of the American Folk Museum building. It also handled 2009’s high-profile dispute over ownership of the Picasso painting ‘Boy Leading a Horse’.
Supporting one of the nation’s top daily papers, The New York Times legal team has been at the centre of some of the defining copyright, defamation and privacy cases in American legal history. With the largest print circulation of any US paper the publication has seen consistent growth and retains a substantial global reach. Amongst its ranks the legal team has some of the top media lawyers in the country. Operating at the heart of executive decision-making, general counsel Kenneth Richieri joined the paper as legal counsel in 1983, rising through the ranks to reach his current role in 2006.
‘Dedicated to serving the military community, USAA’s slogan is “We know what it means to serve”, and the entire legal department takes this to heart’, says one private practice source. Headed by general counsel Stephen Bennett, the legal team has expanded considerably over recent years. ‘Bennett has managed this growth extraordinarily well, recruiting seasoned lawyers from across the country and reorganizing the legal department to meet the company’s evolving needs’, one observer says. Its lawyers are praised for their strong legal and ‘strategic’ instincts in the face of ‘unprecedented regulatory challenges’. Business GC Chris Laia and bank GC Deneen Donnley are particularly rated, alongside Bennett, for their work ethic and commitment to internal clients.
Walt Disney’s US team is at the epicenter of legal support for a colossal and expanding global empire. Routinely supporting momentous deals and first-of-its-kind litigation, the team is particularly known for its effectiveness in trademark and copyright disputes, recently winning a Second Circuit appeal allowing it to buy the Tinkerbell trademark. The team has also supported development of some of the world’s largest theme parks, including the planned 16-acre Star Wars Land and an 11-acre Toy Story Land at its Hollywood studio. Set to take several years to complete, it will be the complex’s largest-ever overhaul in its 44-year history. General counsel and executive vice president Alan Braverman has two decades’ worth of experience, appointed its global legal head in 2003. Formerly ABC’s general counsel before the broadcast group was purchased by Disney in 1996, he is a veteran lawyer within the industry. In addition to his broad-based experience of corporate and litigation work, Braverman has a strong track record in government relations work.
Winner of The Legal 500’s 2014 US Team of the Year award for real estate, the US legal unit of Tishman Speyer is widely recognized in the in-house community for both the outstanding quality of its legal support and for its clinical execution of key real estate transactions. Since 2007, the US team has been managed by Bradley Turk, a lawyer with substantial private practice experience representing key players in the US real estate market on the acquisition, development, financing and sale of various assets. The secret of Turk’s success is running a relatively small but effective team that is fully integrated with Tisham Speyer’s business activities. In-house lawyers have to work closely with portfolio managers while also devising key legal and compliance policies and training the firm’s personnel across several countries. Recent work for the legal department in 2015 includes the buyback of the iconic Quartier 205 in Berlin, the acquisition of adjoining properties in Washington DC’s central business district for redevelopment purposes, and the acquisition of 235,000 square feet of air rights for the planned Hudson Yards Tower.
‘TiVo’s litigation successes provide an extremely rare example of a legal department playing such a critical role in the company’s success’, says one market observer. The eight-strong legal team has been instrumental to major deals with the likes of AT&T, Verizon and Dish and handled game-changing patent litigation with DVR technology. The department spearheaded an initiative which brought about a complex $490m settlement with Google/Motorola and Cisco, including cross licenses to all parties’ sizeable patent portfolios. The team has supported a run of significant transactions, including TiVo’s acquisition and integration of Digitalsmiths, TRA and Zinctv. It has also helped establish an off-shore development center and negotiated new agreements for TiVo products and services to be distributed by multichannel operators worldwide. The latter included an undertaking to build an internet protocol television system for Sweden’s largest cable operator, Con-Hem. Internally, the function has employed a variety of alternative fee arrangements to manage outside counsel costs. It has also made wide use of technology, with measures such as electronic billing and contract management software and online compliance training. The team’s cross-functional approach ensures all lawyers have broad experience and are actively involved in wider business operations.
The US’s fourth largest mobile company, T-Mobile has faced considerable legal challenges in recent years, including the attempted AT&T merger, blocked by the Federal Communications Commission in 2011. With over 20 years’ industry experience, general counsel David Miller is prominent and respected in his field. Litigation head Laura Buckland, recognized in GC Powerlist’s 2013 US listing, handles all risk, state and federal government agency inquiries and investigations.
Tower Watson’s legal function has supported extraordinary transactional activity, with this year’s $18bn Willis merger following the defining 2010 merger of Towers Perrin and Watson Wyatt Worldwide that created the company in its current form. ‘Two transformative “mergers of equals” in 5 years is pretty remarkable’, general counsel Kirkland Hicks says. ‘I’m very proud of the legal team’s leading role and critical contributions to both’. Behind the scenes, the 100-strong department has worked closely with senior leadership to develop the new brokerage business, and with it a ‘first-of-its-kind’ product. Shortlisted for GC Powerlist: US, Hicks himself has won multiple accolades in his own right, and has gained particular recognition for his progressive management of the internal function. His leadership includes a formal mentoring system, flexible working and practical support for internal and external training. The team draws recognition for its ‘collegiate’ and ‘client-focused’, reflected in its pro bono services and participation in numerous community outreach programs.
Alternative investment management firm Trian Fund Management works closely with the companies it invests in to enhance shareholder value. Headed by CLO and partner Brian Schorr, its legal function sits within a multi-disciplinary investment team. When it comes to devising business strategy and putting it into action, lawyers are indistinguishable from the rest of the team, Schorr explains. This approach, in his view, has been central to their effectiveness. ‘What we’re trying to do at Trian is figure out whether it makes sense to invest in a company and what are the ways that we can help implement strategic and operational initiatives to drive long-term value’, he says. ‘It’s a combination of a business analysis and a legal analysis. If you can lay both of those analyses side-by-side without having one pushing or pulling on the other too much, I think that’s the greatest thing you can accomplish, because then it becomes a seamless analysis’. In his view, one of the team’s biggest achievements was its role in Trian’s 2006 investment in Heinz. ‘That was a watershed event – we believe it was a real turning point in activist investing’. Following the initial investment, Trian undertook a proxy contest and won two seats on the board. ‘It was a milestone proxy contest’, Schorr continues. ‘It was one of the first times a large capitalization company faced a proxy contest from a shareholder where the shareholder was successful in getting board representation’. In his view, the Trian legal team ‘played a critical role in helping guide Trian through the proxy process’. Operating at the heart of an innovative business model, staying at the crest of the wave is key as far as legal developments are concerned, in Schorr’s view. ‘What we do is cutting edge. We’re the guys asking the questions as to – “Can we do X, Y or Z?” that hasn’t been done before. So I think the answer is not staying too narrowly focused in what we do but having a broader lens’. In achieving this, he says he actively encourages continued education within his team, and also ensures he stays close to the market’s leading practitioners.
Tribune Media Company’s recent performance is due in no small part to executive vice president and general counsel, Edward Lazarus. The company emerged from bankruptcy at the end of 2012 and has since become a new success story in the US media and entertainment sector. The Tribune in-house legal team has helped to develop the company’s media portfolio by overseeing a number of transformative transactions. Just a year after exiting bankruptcy, Tribune completed a $2.8bn acquisition of Local TV Holdings to create the largest combined independent broadcast group and content creator in the US. In January 2014, Tribune completed the acquisition of Gracenote, a global leader in digital entertainment data. This has helped Tribune Digital Ventures to expand into new growth areas, including streaming music services, mobile devices and automotive infotainment. In August 2014, Tribune completed the spin-off of assets and liabilities related to its principal publishing operations by distributing shares in the Tribune Publishing Company to Tribune’s stockholders. This move was designed to give the publishing business, whose titles include the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, greater financial and operational control, helping it to deal with a rapidly changing newspaper marketplace. These market-leading transactions would not have been possible without the leadership and expertise of the Tribune legal team.
United Way of New York City’s legal team continues to facilitate a variety of initiatives, working alongside government, corporate partners and community-based organizations to support low-income New Yorkers. Headed by general counsel Sunita Subramanian, the team’s recent projects included the Expanding NYC Service Years project. Highly experienced in the non-profit and corporate world, Subramanian was previously senior staff attorney at Lawyers Alliance for New York, providing full-service legal advice to charitable organizations.
Formed through a reverse merger of two of the world’s largest consumer health and beauty chains, the Walgreens Boots Alliance is a global giant employing over 350,000 people. The legal team is governed by the two highest ranking lawyers of the pre-merged entities. Marco Pagni, former general counsel of Alliance Boots, now runs the Walgreens Boots Alliance legal team as executive vice president and global chief legal and administrative officer. Former Walgreen general counsel Jan Stern Reed acts as senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary for the merged company. Managing the volume of contracts, licensing agreements, IP work, carve-outs, regulation, and litigation that comes with such a transformational merger places the Walgreens Boots Alliance legal team among the top-tier of corporate counsel.
Wal-Mart’s legal department is founded on the same everyday low cost philosophy as the rest of the company. The legal team now operates as part of the company’s global governance, which unties compliance, legal, global investigations, security, aviation, travel and ethics in one function. This was in part a response to the issues the company had faced in regards to investigations of corruption in its Mexican subsidiary. Merging the compliance, ethics, investigations and legal represented a major shift for the company, which previously had different reporting tracks for each office. Diversity has long been a focus for the legal team both internally and externally. About ten years ago, the department started a concerted focus on diversity and broadening the recruitment of diverse candidates both internally and with external counsel. Tactics included increasing compensation for lawyers to attract the best candidates and putting women and minority lawyers on outside leadership training programmes. The team also provides a wide range of programmes designed to increase retention amongst its in-house legal team including rotations throughout different areas of the legal department and to the business and foreign exchange programmes where lawyers can spend time in another jurisdiction.
Swiss-headquartered Weatherford International is one of the world’s largest oil and natural gas service companies, with more than 50,000 employees in over 100 countries. Its ‘exceptional’ US team supports extensive business product lines and plays a pivotal strategic role in the regional business. It is headed by North American general counsel and global litigation head Josh McMorrow, an ‘exceptionally fine manager and mentor’, who combines commercial acumen with strong tactical instincts in litigation. As well as supporting significant domestic and cross-border disputes in the region, McMorrow and his team have played a central role in supporting and formulating dispute resolution procedures applied nationally and internationally. In this way, some of its biggest achievements have been matters that were resolved successfully without entering the public arena. In the wake of energy prices’ sharp downturn, the team is working closely with other business functions to support wide scale redundancies within the region, announced in 2015.
Supporting the nation’s largest middle-lender, Wells Fargo’s US legal function has featured in some of the largest transactions in North America. The function has supported the bank’s forward-thinking product-development and technological advances over the years, as it became the first online bank in 1995 and the first to offer mobile banking to businesses in 2007. Legal has also assisted the launch of its Innovation group, aiming to partner with start-up businesses in 2015. With a long history in the financial services sector, general counsel and senior executive vice president James Strother has headed the company’s legal function for 12 years. He was deputy GC for two years prior to that and served as GC for the Wells Fargo Home Mortgage from 1998 to 2001.
‘Lead contributor, thought partner, consensus-builder and negotiator for Wendy’s growth initiatives’, the fast food brand’s legal function has supported significant financial restructuring, international transactions and large-scale marketing initiatives. The function has focused on promoting greater engagement with the business, and sources interviewed point to the high respect it has earned at board-level. The team is a ‘role model in terms of Wendy’s values: getting things done in the right way; taking accountability; raising the bar on performance’. Senior vice president, GC and secretary Scott Toop has extensive sector experience, with previous roles including GC to Yum! Brands and KFC. Associate GC and GC Powerlist: US Rising Star Dana Klein sits on the executive board and has supported a number of transactions, including the Tim Hortons’ merger and its IPO and 2006 spin-off.
Headed by ‘superb general counsel’ Martin McIntyre, Wood Group’s global in-house team continues to support its global diversified energy business. Working seamlessly with the business in major cross-border transactions, the legal function is known for its superior regulatory understanding across the business’s core industries. It is currently supporting the early stages of the company’s leadership of five new three-year joint industry projects set to complete in 2018. Drawing on its substantial subsea experience, Wood Group will be working with oil and gas operators, contractors and regulators to improve the sector’s quality, safety and competence.
Known as the ‘Pacto por México’, the package of structural reforms adopted by the current administration upon its election in 2012 has already helped bring more investment to Mexico. While it remains necessary to fully employ the national budget so as to create new jobs and further grow employment, major structural measures have already been legislated by Enrique Peña Nieto’s government and these will effect competition, energy, finance, labor, infrastructure, telecommunications, amparo law (a constitutional appeal), private data protection, public private partnerships, anticorruption, education, transparency and tax matters. Significantly, implementation has already begun. These structural reforms have been rolled out at a time when Mexico –like other jurisdictions- is enduring a notable reduction in oil prices, but this has had only a limited impact on global oil companies’ interest in Mexico’s offshore hydrocarbons potential, since the major oil-and-gas players are aware that such projects generally require years to develop and can provide returns for decades. According to the OECD, full implementation of the reform package in the short term is crucial to the country’s reaping the benefits that will accrue from a strong and sustainable recovery, and could add as much as one percentage point to the annual per capita growth trend of Mexico’s GDP.
Each of the reforms noted above, address the key issues and challenges in their respective sectors. The Mexican economy currently ranks as the world’s 11th largest and the country is also the fourth largest exporter of automobiles and manufactures the vast majority of flat screen televisions sold in the United States. In fact, Mexico exports more manufactured products than the rest of Latin America combined. Many US law firms have implemented or considered the hire of individuals or groups with significant business activity, opening offices in Mexico from where they can better serve their clients’ requirements or deliver services at a lower price. This scenario presents a unique opportunity not only to grow the services local firms provide to existing clients but also to compete for and acquire new clients.
On the other hand, the role of the in-house lawyer is crucially important since they manage the legal risks associated with the business and legal issues involved in all decisions by management. Moreover, in-house lawyers have to respond to increasing pressure on legal costs, responding proactively with initiatives for cost reduction and identifying appropriate benchmarks to permit the measuring of efficiency. When making the transition from private practice to an in-house role, most lawyers move from a specialist background to a more generalist role with responsibility for areas in which they have markedly less experience. This potentially opens huge areas of opportunity for them, since in-house lawyers who demonstrate the ability to make commercial decisions find it easy to connect with the (internal) business teams and will further a company’s ability to make sound strategic choices based on analysis that combines both legal and commercial factors.
In this regard, relationships between in-house lawyers and external lawyers are becoming increasingly important. The successful appointment of preferred legal advisors and the development of a close working relationship with a law firm can be a significant opportunity for in-house legal teams and can help save both time and money.
Basham, Ringe y Correa is one of the largest and most prestigious full-service corporate law firms in Latin America. Established in Mexico in 1912, Basham draws upon a century of experience in assisting its clients to conduct business throughout Mexico. The firm’s clients include prominent international corporations (many of them on the Fortune 500 list), medium-sized companies, financial institutions and individuals.
Our large group of lawyers and support staff are committed to maintain the highest professional and ethical standards. The firm currently has approximately 130 lawyers, plus 47 paralegals, four engineers and seven translators. Constantly exposed to the international legal system, many of our lawyers and other professionals have completed post-graduate studies at foreign universities and have worked at companies and law firms from abroad. The firm’s members speak English fluently, and in some cases French and German.
The specialization and development of each department, coordination and support between the different areas, and in-depth knowledge of markets and economic trends, provide our clients with innovative complete and timely solutions. It is because of these qualities and values, we believe, that our clients have continued to entrust their legal affairs to us for many years, some for many decades.
The firm has regulatory and practical expertise in all areas of a modern legal practice and advises clients on mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, commercial contracts, project financing, domestic and international tax planning, in-bond manufacturing, antitrust, banking, bankruptcy, trusts, insurance, business organizations, international trade, NAFTA and WTO matters, anti-dumping, intellectual property (covering patents, trademarks, models, designs, copyrights, domain names, licensing, franchising and unfair competition), entertainment, administrative law, government relations, government regulations, immigration, labor, employment, employee benefits and human resources planning, environmental law, energy, telecommunications, health, transportation, aviation, railroads, maritime, tourism, mining, consumer protection litigation, arbitration, criminal law and inheritance, real estate and agrarian matters. We also have specialized litigation departments for civil, commercial, criminal, labor, tax and administrative areas as well as commercial arbitration and constitutional proceedings (juicio de amparo).
The firm has been actively involved in the development and globalization of markets, working with clients to formulate creative solutions that meet their needs. The firm represents domestic and foreign clients in the private and public sectors and Basham, Ringe y Correa prides itself on working with clients that have developed important projects in Mexico.
The firm is able to provide complete and accurate legal translations of laws and documents to ensure that our clients have a full understanding of their operations.
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