corp_02 photography by Trevor Paulhus


Outstanding Chief Legal Officer or General Counsel—Solo

Laurie D. Tice Biddle
Hall Financial Group

In 2006, when Laurie Biddle was named in-house counsel at Hall Financial Group, a company with about 80 employees locally and 250 globally, she set about redefining its existing legal department.

“What I have really done is organize [it] in a fashion where we work efficiently and expeditiously to handle legal matters and get deals closed,” Biddle says. “I am about systems and processes, which allows us to process a lot of work.”

Hall Financial Group, a privately held company based in Frisco, has holdings a variety of industries, including commercial real estate, software application development, vineyards and wineries, and oil and gas.

Over the past 18 months, Biddle has closed transactions for Hall totaling more than $450 million—including the sale of two multifamily properties, taking a majority stake in Roessler, a Sonoma, Calif, winemaker; and setting up a joint venture between Hall and Marathon Oil.

“I’ve always been a goal-setter and I’ve always been pretty focused,” says Biddle, who was promoted to vice president and general counsel in 2008. “So to achieve those goals, I focused on what it takes to get from A to B, from B to C. I am high-energy, so I have to stay focused or I’d be all over the place.”

She’s had plenty of practice at juggling things.

In 1990, Biddle was a single working mother of two young girls. Wanting to take her paralegal career even further, she enrolled in college, attending at night and on weekends.

“I did it by managing and organizing and keeping each realm in order,” Biddle says. “There were things I had to do to make it work. It was those organizational skills and relationships. It was staying focused and on goal.”

Biddle received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at El Paso in 1994. She went on to receive her juris doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin in 1997. She earned her attorney’s license and served in private practice for nearly 10 years, before joining Hall Financial, which is led by Craig Hall.

When Biddle arrived and began reorganizing the legal department, she also began making it more accessible to anyone in the company with a legal question. Her team has become an interdepartmental resource.

“I’m very much a people person and I like to serve, so my idea when I came was to create a small or solo practice within the company,” Biddle says. “It has become kind of a team-building atmosphere.”

—Shashana Pearson-Hormillosa

Finalists

Richard Y. Cheng
Senior Care Centers

Richard Cheng has created the legal and medical appeals departments for two different health care companies: Century Rehabilitation and his current employer, Senior Care Centers, which generates $310 million in annual revenue and employs 4,500 people. The accomplished attorney worked as an occupational therapist for many years before going to law school, and since then he has taught at two universities and written a legal chapter in an occupational therapy textbook.


Mark M. Chloupek
LQ Management LLC

Mark Chloupek has served as general counsel for La Quinta Inn & Suites since its acquisition by affiliates of The Blackstone Group LP in 2006. Since that time, La Quinta has nearly doubled in size, expanding from 435 to 806 hotels. In spite of the company’s growth, Chloupek has managed to reduce legal costs by more than 70 percent and decrease third-party losses on a per-hotel basis by approximately 20 percent. Chloupek also has served on the board of directors for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation for more than 10 years.


David Poole
Range Resources Corp.

This past year David Poole led the defense of Range Resources from “a baseless ex-parte order issued by the EPA,” which claimed that Range had contaminated a pair of drinking wells in the Barnett Shale. Poole has plenty of experience in the oil business. He worked as a drilling engineer out of college, until he decided to attend law school. Then, before joining Range Resources, he worked at TXU Corp., where he held the position of general counsel during the company’s $45 billion leveraged buyout. Poole also is involved in the Boy Scouts of America, where he serves as general counsel for Circle Ten Council.