Executive vice president, general counsel and secretary | Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc
‘The best way to achieve success as an in-house lawyer’, executive vice president, general counsel and secretary of Bio-Rad Laboratories Timothy S. Ernst believes, ‘is to be seen as a trusted business partner, the person to go to in order to get things done. And don’t limit your portfolio to simply business advice; lawyers are trained to communicate well and solve problems, so use these skills to help your clients solve their problems’. Ernst has had the sort of in-house experience most lawyers would envy in order to come to these conclusions; prior to starting with Bio-Rad in 2016, he accrued 20 years of experience with Big Heart Pet Brands (formerly Del Monte foods), the largest independent pet food company in the US, and also operated as associate general counsel for California and Hawaiian Sugar Company (C&H). The great success he enjoyed at both Big Heart Pet Brands and Del Monte is emphasised by the number of career highlights he enjoyed with them, particularly representing C&H in its claim against the Panama Canal Commission after the grounding of the Moku Pahu bulk sugar ship. Other highlights include Ernst and representing Del Monte Foods in acquiring the pet food business of H.J. Heinz Company through a Reverse Morris Trust transaction. Ernst reflects highly positively on the impact he has made since joining Bio-Rad. ‘Upon arriving I focused on improving intra-department cohesion and communication through monthly department meetings and weekly staff check-ins’, he explains. ‘This provided the attorneys with greater autonomy in working with their clients, and included implementing tools for improving efficiency and communication (including electronic invoicing and a new department website). Morale has improved, and the reputation of the department with the rest of the business is at an all-time high’. As well as this, he concludes with a highly positive appraisal of his ability to influence strategic decisions within the company: ‘I have a close relationship with the CEO and am part of the senior management team. I believe it is important for the legal department to be included at the inception of all important company initiatives’.