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The Top Corporate Counsel in Dallas-Fort Worth 2012

The 22 honorees in D CEO’s awards are in the spotlight—and making a difference.

Meet the rest of the finalists for this year’s Corporate Counsel Awards:


Janet Dhillon JC Penney
“I have been practicing law for 21 years, as an in-house counsel since 2004, and in 2009 assumed my current position as general counsel and corporate secretary of JCPenney. Currently, the company is going through a transformation. Managing through this change has been challenging, but also very exciting. It’s part of why I enjoy the in-house practice, because it gives me the opportunity to address legal issues in a way that enables the business to succeed, while still allowing me to have direct interaction with my clients.”

Wayne Watts AT&T
“I joined Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. in 1983 as an attorney in Dallas and have spent nearly 30 years since then at AT&T, culminating in my current role as general counsel. In that time I’ve negotiated merger agreements and obtained regulatory approvals for more than $200 billion in transactions, including SBC/Ameritech, creation of Cingular Wireless between SBC/BellSouth, Cingular’s purchase of AT&T Wireless, SBC/AT&T, and others. As a department, we’ve had to overcome the disappointment of our unsuccessful effort to buy T-Mobile, but I believe we have succeeded overall.”


Cecily Small Gooch TXU Energy
“I hail from a family of lawyers and a desire to solve problems. I ‘chose’ corporate law eight years ago, when a decision was made to develop an internal legal department at TXU Corp. The law firm where I worked—Worsham, Forsythe and Wooldridge—had served TXU for decades as primary counsel. I was asked to join the in-house team as general counsel of TXU Energy at the (relatively) young age of 38 by a mentor of mine who was going to lead the new TXU legal team covering legislative and regulatory issues. It has turned into a very fulfilling career.”

Randy Hyne Fossil Inc.
“I began my career in-house, never having practiced in a law firm. I served as assistant general counsel and then general counsel at Enterprise Financial Group from 1994 to 1997, when I joined Fossil Inc. as assistant general counsel and assistant secretary. I was promoted to vice president of legal in 2002 and, in 2005, I was promoted to vice president, general counsel, and secretary. Since then we’ve completed the biggest acquisition by far in Fossil’s history, acquiring Skagen Designs Ltd. and certain of its international affiliates for $231.7 million in cash and 150,000 shares of Fossil Inc. common stock.”<>


Richard Cheng Senior Care Centers
“I started my career as an attorney working primarily on M&A due diligence matters, then transitioned to a civil litigation firm. I took a year off from practicing law before becoming the general counsel and vice president of medical appeals at Century Rehabilitation. I was the first corporate counsel for the company. After that, Senior Care Centers hired me to replicate the exact departments I had created at Century Rehabilitation. I assumed the general counsel position at Senior Care Centers in January 2011.”

Lisa Gold Roofing Supply Group
“No attorney previously existed where I am, so I had to get the support and respect of 60 branch managers without many opportunities to personally interact with the managers. I had to prioritize my legal initiatives in a way that was effective, but did not negatively impact their operations. By prioritizing and using a cooperative tone, I came to be viewed as a resource and not as a hurdle to operations. I believe I have successfully integrated my role into their thought processes, and they now reach out to me requesting my input and advice.”


Todd Martin CoreLogic
“I started in a law firm but jumped in-house as quickly as I could and have never looked back, because I wanted to be directly involved in my clients’ business. As time passes, you can often observe the direct impact that you’ve had on your client’s business. After 12 years, my greatest challenge to date has been helping a new publicly traded company—one consisting of many disparate business units and subsidiaries around the country—establish a centralized legal department that better serves the entire organization.” 

Frank Vecella Ericsson
“I chose to begin my career at the Jackson Walker law firm. At some point along the way—and through no fault of the firm—I developed some unhealthy ‘workaholic’ tendencies. Consequently, when Ericsson called me out of the blue in 2000 and asked me to consider trading in my private practice for a new career as an in- house lawyer, the lure of a more predictable work schedule and better quality of life proved irresistible. Aside from asking my wife to marry me in 1985, accepting Ericsson’s offer to manage its litigation was the single best decision I have ever made.”


Amy Howell ORIX
“Initially I declined ORIX’s invitation to interview, both because I thought going in-house meant managing legal work, and because I had no experience in the financial industry, much less with finance law. But after a nudge or two, I landed at ORIX and found in-house lawyering combines the best of high-quality legal work with the business judgment required for proactive problem-solving. Now my co-workers know I understand their business, they rely on my judgment, and they trust my ability to proactively analyze potential problems and challenges, as opposed to merely raising roadblocks and obstacles.” 

Heather Morschauser Michaels Stores
“I decided that corporate work was a better fit for my personality because I could work toward win-win solutions. In May 2011, Michaels learned an unauthorized third party had compromised some of its “POS PED” devices located in U.S. stores. I was one of four core people in the room from the day we learned of the breach until the favorable conclusion of the Federal Trade Commission investigation a year later. Launching seven Michaels Stores in Quebec was also a great accomplishment.” 


Rani Garcia Ericsson
“I launched and led a knowledge management initiative for Akin Gump’s firmwide labor section from 2002-2005. In 2007 I became associate general counsel for Zale Corp. before joining Ericsson Inc. in 2009. One of the proudest moments was when I earned the President’s Eagle Award at Ericsson for making substantial contributions to improve our region’s efficiency by working with Human Resources to create and improve key processes, and to provide training to HR on employment issues.”

Clay B. Scheitzach Xerox Business Services LLC
“The opportunity to work directly for my client and to work daily to solve legal challenges has proven to be a perfect fit. I came to the company after working on a matter related to a government investigation that spiraled into shareholder litigation. After successfully resolving that matter, I found myself back in the middle of shareholder litigation surrounding the Xerox merger two years later. What is clear is that getting the company through those matters was a team effort. Battling cutting-edge legal theories is one reason I love being in-house.”


Elizabeth Ramirez-Washka Dr Pepper Snapple Group
“After working as a Legal Aid attorney, I realized that a career in corporate lawwould allow more flexibility. I saw my opportunity in employment and labor law. I took a position as a trial attorney with the National Labor Relations Board, then as an in-house counsel for the U.S. Postal Service. Next, I worked for a firm in El Paso, so I could understand what billing and working with corporate counsels entailed. My plan succeeded; I was offered a position with Tenet Healthcare Corp. as senior counsel. I joined Dr Pepper Snapple Group in 2009.”

Richard Rosalez Samsung Telecommunications
“While at Jones Day, I had long advised corporations, directors, and executives to be more creative and proactive, something that is often difficult to achieve as outside counsel. This encouraged me to explore joining a corporate legal department at nearly the same time that I saw an opening at Samsung. The timing was remarkable. The position at Samsung was truly unique and offered an amazing amount of responsibility.”