KPMG and others have studied the role of a general counsel and how it has evolved in recent years, moving away from pure legal work to taking on management responsibilities and finding innovative solutions that align with the overall company goals. The winners and finalists in our ninth annual Corporate Counsel Awards don’t need research reports to tell them how much their jobs have changed. Beyond overseeing compliance with things such as regulatory and tax matters and rules governing workplace conduct, the in-house attorneys talked about running point on board matters, doing diligence on acquisitions or customer negotiations, reorganizing far-flung departments in marketing or training or talent acquisition, and otherwise helping manage their organizations. Of course, lawyers also go to court, and, starting on page 70, we recount some of the important litigation that occupied three of the counselors being recognized in this year’s Corporate Counsel Awards program. We think you’ll agree that all of these sharp, hardworking honorees are worthy of recognition.
What’s the greatest corporate governance headache facing in-house attorneys?
Outstanding General Counsel
David Mace Roberts
Electronic Transaction Consultants Corp.
“Even today, there is a lot of pressure to ignore allegations brought by employees. Look at how many companies are in the press for not investigating claims or taking them seriously.”
Finalists: Alaina Brooks, EnLink Midstream; Kelvin Smith, Big 12 Conference; Stacey Smotherman, Excentus Corp.
PrimeSource Building Products Inc.
“Data security, privacy, and management. The convenience of technology has opened the floodgates for data creation and storage, which is an ever-increasing challenge to secure and manage.”
Finalists: Shelby Boseman, The University of Texas at Arlington; Fred Loeber, One Technologies LP; Timothy Mueller, Adeptus Health
Matador Resources Co.
“We have seen increased issues with cybersecurity. Staying ahead of efforts to access our systems and misappropriate our confidential and proprietary information will be an ongoing challenge.”
Finalist: Eldridge Burns, Topgolf Entertainment Group
Pioneer Natural Resources
“Finding the balance between helping the board in performance of its oversight responsibilities while allowing executives to manage the business will always be a challenging, but manageable task.”
Finalists: Richard Nohe, BT Americas; Julia Simon, Mary Kay Inc.; Jared Sine, Match Group
What key strategies or guiding principles have helped you achieve success?
Outstanding Deputy or Associate General Counsel
Huawei Technologies USA Inc.
“I have always taken the position that the legal department is not the ‘no’ department. We will advise and suggest that certain things should not be done, but we must always present a path forward.”
Finalists: Anne Brooksher-Yen, Celanese Corp.; Carolyn Lam, Stream
“We take a team approach and partner with all other departments in our corporate office, so we can maximize the efficiencies of all of us and deliver great customer service to our clients/employees.”
Finalist: Jeanette Teckman, Match Group
Cecily Small Gooch
Vistra Energy Corp.
“Cultivating and maintaining strong personal relationships with our clients. When they know that we care about them personally and professionally, we gain their trust and they engage us early on as partners.”
Finalists: Ellen Farrell, Toyota; Chastity Henry, Kimberly-Clark Corp.
What do you find most rewarding about your career as a corporate attorney?
Outstanding In-House Counsel, Up-and-Comer, and Community Service
Samsung Electronics America
“I enjoy working on challenging matters and complex issues, working with a talented team, learning from amazing colleagues and partners, … and the ongoing opportunity to develop as a lawyer, leader, team member, and person.”
Finalist: Angela Hough, North Texas Tollway Authority
Trinity Industries Inc.
“The most rewarding aspect of my career as a corporate attorney is partnering with the business units to help them achieve their goals, rather than simply existing as a detached department looking to minimize risk.”
Finalists: James Bristow, EnLink Midstream; Casey Burton, Match Group; Sarah Decker, McAfee; Kelly Frazier, Sharyland Utilities L.P.; Brandi Parker, Microsoft
Jennifer Evans Morris
“I have the opportunity to work with the best and brightest in their field on some of the most interesting and complex issues I have faced in my career. It makes me a better lawyer. Every day.”
Finalists: Jennifer Jones, Toyota Motor North America; Kelly Rentzel, Texas Capital Bank