(Photo: Benjamin Thompson, via Wikimedia Commons)

This month Reed Smith partner Tracy Genesen left the firm to become general counsel for one of the firm’s clients, Scotch whisky company Edrington USA. The company was launched in the spring to handle U.S. distribution for the Scotland-based corporation’s brands, which include Macallan and Cutty Sark.

Genesen comes to Edrington with a barrelful of experience in the alcohol industry. After planting a vineyard near Lake Tahoe 15 years ago, she became interested in making it easier for alcohol producers to get their products to market. In 2004, she served as the American Wine Industry’s litigation strategist for the U.S. Supreme Court case Granholm v. Heald. The resulting decision allowed out-of-state wineries to ship wine directly to consumers in New York and Michigan.

According to Genesen, her move from litigator to general counsel was a long time in the making. Beginning last October, she led a multioffice Reed Smith team that helped Edrington in its expansion to the U.S.

“Becoming a general counsel was always something I aspired to do, but I knew it was about finding the right company,” Genesen told CorpCounsel.com. “The Edrington Group has the core values I respect and believe in.”

The company’s charitable endeavors, in particular, appealed to Genesen. The charitable organization that owns Edrington, The Robertson Trust, donated about $26 million to causes in the past year.

“There is a mission that the company has always felt [is] extremely critical to who they are, to be involved in helping people and conservation efforts around the world,” said Genesen.

As Edrington USA’s GC, she will represent the company’s dealings with the U.S. Tax and Trade Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission and state alcohol agencies.

But Genesen added that she is particularly excited to act as a brand ambassador for the company. She will help introduce products to the U.S. such as Snow Leopard vodka, which donates 15 percent of the profits to preventing further diminishing of the snow leopard population.

After about 25 years in practice, Genesen says that in-house counsel is a role she is ready to take on.

“I certainly did enjoy at times the array of different matters that you’re asked to work on, because I was able to work on interesting cases in a variety of areas in the industry,” said Genesen. “[But] there’s really a great spectrum of areas of practice for in-house as well.”

Reed Smith associate Michael Zitelli also moved to Edrington USA, at the suggestion of Genesen, to serve as her deputy general counsel.