The Top Corporate Lawyers in Dallas-Fort Worth 2013

This year's 35 honorees are innovative, flexible, and actively participating in the leadership of their companies.

Laura Beitler
Mary Kay inc.

The pursuit of a diploma started her adventure, but it was the skill of a diplomat that helped Laura Beitler navigate through two of the most challenging years in her 15-year career.

During a college internship at Mary Kay Inc., the corporate values and empowering atmosphere left an indelible impression. A sequence of “meant-to-be” moments eventually put her back in the pink at the Addison-based global headquarters that’s still known for awarding Cadillacs for cosmetics sales.

Now Mary Kay’s vice president and associate general counsel, Beitler accepted the responsibility for providing legal support to the company’s European area in 2011. That’s no small feat, considering there were 12 Mary Kay subsidiaries (now 13) and a presence in 20 markets in Europe—and at the time, just herself and a paralegal from the Dallas-based legal team supporting the region.

Yet the complexities of building a multinational legal team while mastering the nuances of international law were just a few of the obstacles ahead. In addition to her responsibilities in the U.S. and Canada, she had to change the perception in Europe that the legal department was a roadblock to progress, all while dealing with a health issue that “challenged me to the core,” she reports. With tenacity, she launched a multi-year plan.

Fast-forward to 2013: Beitler’s collaborative approach has created a 30-person legal matrix in the U.S. and Canada, with dozens of outside counsel firms throughout Europe, as well as 13 attorneys in-house at the global headquarters. Just as notably, the team is now viewed as a partner.

“As our Europe region experiences record sales and growth,” she says, “it is so good to know that we are well-positioned to provide the legal services needed to support, protect, and encourage this exciting forward momentum.” — Elise Anthony

Cynthia Hoff Trochu, Texas Instruments inc.
Scott Williams, Pulte Homes Inc.

Brett Mangrum
Uniloc USA

Brett Mangrum has been a corporate counselor for just seven months, but his job is part of a plan that he’s had since high school.

“I set my goal to become a patent attorney during ninth grade,” he says. “I had a passion for science and engineering, but I also loved writing the real-world application of my symbolic logic courses. I came to realize that I could dovetail my seemingly polar-opposite passions for engineering and the law through a career as a patent attorney.”

When computer security and copy protection software company Uniloc USA approached him about managing the monetization of its patent portfolio—just five years after he graduated from law school—Mangrum realized it was an incredible opportunity that tracked well with his career path.

Prior to joining Uniloc, Mangrum had gained experience in various aspects of patent law at Baker Botts. The law firm approached him while he was still in law school about helping it start a Scientific Advisor program. His work there ultimately resulted in a number of issued patents that named him as sole inventor.

Mangrum studied engineering at Brigham Young University and was working for Texas Instruments when he began attending Southern Methodist University’s law school at night.

Away from the office, Mangrum mentors students through several organizations, advising those interested in pursuing patent law to study and gain experience in writing and science. “You need the right background to succeed—writer and scientist,” he says. “And that combination is rare.”
Glenda Vosburgh

Ryan Farha, Orix USA Corp.
Juli Greenberg, Heartland Payment Systems Inc.

Michelle Peak
American Airlines

American Airlines is making headlines for its bankruptcy issues and pending merger with US Airways. But a lesser-known narrative is its role in workplace diversity.

Michelle Peak knows the story well because she lives and breathes it every day. The senior labor and employment attorney, who’s worked at the Fort Worth-based airline for about 14 years, is actively involved in advocating for the lesbian gay bisexual transgender community, as well as for racial minorities.

American Airlines has been a pioneer in the diversity community and was among the first companies to offer domestic partner benefits, Peak says.

“I am celebrated for being my authentic self at American Airlines and am proud to be there, [representing] as a woman, African-American, and a member of the LBGT community,” she says.

Peak serves on the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund Inc. board, AA’s Legal Department Diversity Committee, and its Mentoring Program for Law Students. She participates on the Texas Minority Counsel Program Steering Committee as well as the Advisory Corporate Counsel Women of Color.

Inclusiveness is the crux of her message as she attends conferences and speaks on diversity panels and at law firms across the country to discuss best practices to recruit talent in her profession.

“It’s important to have professional women and professional women of color active in the community,” Peak says. ”I think everybody brings value to the table, and being a diverse member of the bar brings different perspectives on how you look at a set of facts and the way you navigate business. American Airlines is a global carrier and our practices should represent our customer base; that is, they are diverse and inclusive of everyone.” — Karen Nielsen

Tara Weilbacher
Bank of America NA

As assistant general counsel and director at Bank of America, Tara Weilbacher spends her days dealing with an evolving regulatory financial environment. But there’s another side to her that’s fiercely committed to community service.

Weilbacher joined Bank of America’s legal team nine years ago, and now works on syndicated loan transactions with industry expertise in energy, media/telecommunications, and insurance/financial services financings.

In 2008 she became involved with the BofA legal department’s pro bono committee, and now serves as the local coordinator. Her role is to increase awareness and pro bono activities, a job that’s easy to do with the bank’s support and commitment to employee volunteerism, she says.

“I enjoy giving back, so the bank’s commitment to volunteerism is a good fit,” Weilbacher says. “At the end of the day it’s about serving the needs of our customers and clients in communities where we do business.”

Weilbacher also serves on the board for the local chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel and is an active member of Attorneys Serving the Community, which brings together women lawyers to combine their resources and talents to support local nonprofit organizations whose programs benefit women, children, and families. In the past year she served on the group’s charity selection committee and was the speaker co-chair for the ASC Luncheon benefiting Plano-based Hope’s Door Inc.

“Working with ASC is very rewarding,” she says. “It’s a fantastic group of women attorneys who work hard in our day jobs. We enjoy getting together outside of work, to work hand-in-hand. We really get to see first-hand the benefits of volunteering and making a difference in the community.” — Karen Nielsen

Dena Denooyer Stroh, Murchison Oil & Gas