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Moves: The Sweet Spot
Jelly Belly Candy Company and its predecessor entities have been serving up sweet treats in some form or other since 1869, when the Goelitz brothers arrived from Germany and bought an ice cream and candy story in Belleville, Illinois. But until now, the family-run businessstill owned by the fourth generation of the Goelitz clanhad been missing a key element in its corporate recipe: a general counsel.
Now JOHN Di GIUSTO has been hired as Jelly Belly's first-ever in-house top lawyer, effective in August. The company's ongoing international growth prompted its executives to begin looking for an official general counsel, but this was not the first time they had contemplated such a move.
"They had reached a size and complexity where they needed an in-house counsel. About 10 years ago, they mounted an initial search for somebody, but they couldn't find the right person," Di Giusto says.
Di Giusto is leaving a job as managing shareholder at Boutin Jones to take the position. Jelly Belly has been one of Boutin's long-term clients, and the company has been courting Di Giusto for a few years now, but it had never before hit his sweet spot. "I've gotten to a point where I wanted to narrow the focus," Di Giusto says. "When you're in private practice, you get pulled in a lot of different directions. You're involved with community affairs, on boards, things are going on internally in the firm, and you are trying to keep clients happy."
Moving to Jelly Belly will present Di Giusto with a bowlful of new challenges. He compares moving into the newly created GC position to starting up a private legal practice. "A lot of the employees are not used to dealing with an in-house counsel," he says. "They've always solved legal issues on their own or with outside firms."
Jelly Belly is based in Fairfield, California. Di Giusto is moving to the area from Sacramento to be closer to work.
The companyknown for such jelly bean flavors as Tutti-Fruitti, buttered popcorn, and green applerose to national prominence in 1980, when thenpresidential candidate Ronald Reagan was seen munching on some of its jelly beans while on the campaign trail (he favored licorice).
The food manufacturing industry is multidimensional, involving product safety, packaging, and distribution laws that vary from state to state and from country to country. "It's a bit more complicated than your average business," the new legal snackmeister says. Jelly Belly currently sells in 76 countries worldwide.
Di Giusto has specialized in corporate and tax law for more than 30 years and had worked at Boutin since 1995. He received his bachelor of science degree from California State University, his J.D. from University of California at Davis School of Law, and his master of laws at the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law.
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A Breath of Fresh Air
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has turned over a new leaf with the appointment of MARSHALL TAYLOR JR. as general counsel. Taylor replaced CARL ROBERTS, who returned to private practice after 17 years with the state agency.
The government body oversees a wide range of matters, from rabies outbreaks and the creation of landfills to the establishment of health clinics and the drafting of emergency responses in the wake of environmental disasters. So Taylor's responsibilities run a gamut of legal work. As he puts it: "Every day I'm presented with new issues that I've never had the opportunity to work on."
Taylor is no novice when it comes to matters related to the environment. Prior to attending the University of South Carolina Law School, he worked for six years as an engineer and then an operations manager at Westinghouse Savannah River Company, where he focused on handling high-level nuclear waste. After law school, he joined Columbia, South Carolinabased McNair Law Firm as an attorney in the administrative and regulatory practice. "At McNair I represented industrial clients, but also dealt with banks, developers, contractors, and all different types of companies, advising them on environmental issues," says Taylor.
When DHEC's general counsel position opened up, Taylor saw the opportunity to use his experience with environmental law in a new capacity. "I was hoping for a chance to serve the government at some point in my career," he says. "I'd practiced before DHEC for many years. I already knew all the lawyers over here. I've always been impressed with this organization and what they do."
In his new position, Taylor will supervise a team of 17 attorneys, as well as a supporting legal staff, and serve DHEC's board of directors. Additionally, the state's Freedom of Information Office and Office of Internal Audits will all report to Taylor.
Taylor joins DHEC at a time when the organization is undergoing something of an internal shift. Earlier this year, Catherine Templeton, former director of the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, was appointed as a new director. And according to Taylor, the changing demographics of DHEC's employee base might present challenges. "We have a workforce that's moving toward retirement. These are treasured people," says Taylor. "In my area, I'm always looking at succession plans, and making sure there are two people who know everything possible, and that we have some redundancy and institutional knowledge."
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Upon This Rock
The Archdiocese of St. Louis took a leap of faith in May when it decided to create an in-house position to manage its legal services and appointed TOM BUCKLEY as its first-ever general counsel.
For decades, the archdiocese had tapped members of St. Louis's Huger family for its legal work. Bernard Huger, an attorney at Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, oversaw the archdiocese's defense following a clergy sexual abuse scandal with roots dating back to the 1950s, and is representing the archdiocese in its battle for control over the St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church. (The St. Stanislaus Parish Corporation won a round against the archdiocese in circuit court in March.) Huger's father began working for the archdiocese in the 1960s through his firm Huger & Cramer, which merged with Greensfelder in the 1980s. His daughter, Lucie, has also done work for the archdiocese.
When the archdiocese decided to take its legal work in-house, Buckley was invited to interview for the job. "The archdiocese had always been one of my favorite clients, and I already knew a lot about its structure," says Buckley, who had previously advised and defended particular agencies of the archdiocese, including its schools and parishes.
A native of St. Louis, Buckley has practiced law in his hometown for 23 years, first in insurance defense with the firm Evans & Dixon, and then with his own family firm, Buckley & Buckley. As much as he loved private practice, he was drawn to the position with the archdiocese for personal reasons. "It was difficult to leave a firm I helped found, especially since I was a partner there with my sister and two brothers. However, I have an affinity for my faith and my church, and this position enables me to work for them full-time," says Buckley.
But it wasn't just his close ties to the church that made this position appealing. As the first in-house counsel for the archdiocese, Buckley is building his position from scratch.
"This is a model many archdioceses are moving to. There is a desire now for uniformity and accountabilityto have a lawyer who is wholly dedicated to an archdiocese," he says. Buckley will continue to use Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale as outside counsel.
Buckley will handle employment matters, contractual issues, and real estate; the archdiocese owns considerable property, much of it connected with charitable work. He is particularly excited about broadening his horizons and working in areas of the law in which he has less experience, such as estates and real estate law.
Buckley is a graduate of St. Louis University Law School.
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In The Pipeline
Mueller Water Products refreshed its management team in April with the appointment of KEITH BELKNAP as senior vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary. Belknap replaces BOB BARKER (no, not the game show host) as general counsel.
Belknap joined Mueller, a manufacturing and marketing company for products and services related to clean drinking water and water treatment facilities, from real estate media publishing company Primedia Inc., where he'd served as senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary since 2007. When Primedia was acquired by TPG Capital in May 2011, Belknap sensed that it was time for a change. "I felt that I would be of much higher value at a public company," he says. "And this position allowed me to work with manufacturing, which is something that interests me because there is such a wide array of challenges, from the regulatory side to environmental and international issues."
In his new post, Belknap heads the legal department for the largest publicly traded water infrastructure company in the United States. Mueller operates through two primary business segmentsChattanooga, Tennesseebased Mueller Company and Portsmouth, New Hampshirebased Anvil Internationaland has a portfolio that includes everything from valves and fire hydrants to piping component systems that are used by the oil and gas industry. The company has some 4,800 employees, and in mid-2011 boasted a LTM net profit of $1.3 billion.
While handling the legal affairs for a company the size of Mueller may be a daunting task, Belknap and his team must also contend with the residual fallout of the global economic downturn. "We're going to be dealing with the challenges facing domestic manufacturing, not just in regulations, but also in terms of how regulation impacts our end-market," says Belknap, who supervises a team of nine, four of whom are attorneys. He also expects the evolving economic health of Mueller's consumer base to shape the scope of his work going forward.
Mueller has deep roots in water products, and a colorful history in retailing dating back to 1857, when Hieronymus Mueller opened a gun shop in Decatur, Illinois. He gradually diversified his businesses, first with sewing machine repairs and then with sporting goods. It wasn't until he opened his fourth shop in 1885 that the business shifted decisively from guns to plumbing products, laying the pipe work for the company today. The company's history is commemorated in the Hieronymus Mueller Museum in Decatur.
Given his resume, Belknap should have no trouble keeping his head above water at Mueller. After graduating with honors from Harvard Law School, he plunged into the legal profession at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, where he specialized in corporate matters and domestic and international strategic and financial transactions. After ten years at Skadden, he left private practice permanently, first to serve as the principal counsel at Georgia-Pacific Corporation, and later for an in-house role at Fortune 250 global manufacturer PPG Industries Inc.
Belknap will report to Gregory Hyland, Mueller's chairman of the board of directors, president, and chief executive officer.
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Entertainment industry veteran MARK DeVITRE is now on location in Hollywood with a spot as Entertainment Studios's new executive vice president and general counsel. He made his debut in the role at the beginning of June.
DeVitre was inspired to join Entertainment Studios by chairman and CEO Byron Allen's passion for his job and the company. "He's whip-smart and has a vision for growing this company. He is boundless in his energy," DeVitre says of his new boss. "He needs the help of somebody like me to expand, and I'm glad it is me."
The new GC is responsible for overseeing all the legal matters relating to the studio's broadcast operations, cable networks, content, financing, talent, and licensing agreements.
Entertainment Studios provides video content to television stations, mobile phones, multimedia platforms, and the Internet. The company, which was founded by Allen in 1993, now owns six high-definition cable television networks. This fall the company will launch its first batch of scripted sitcoms.
Those sitcoms will bring a lot of new work to DeVitre's legal department. The studio will be working with talent agencies and unions, dealing with writers, and talking with cable stations to set up promotion for the half-hour comedies, according to DeVitre. "There's going to be a lot more significant talent getting hired," he says, and for that DeVitre will help create and review contracts.
DeVitre has been a busy man in recent years. Prior to moving to Entertainment Studios, he was senior vice president for business affairs and operations for Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution starting in 2007. His showbiz resume also includes roles at FX Network, Fox Movie Channel, and Warner Home Video.
But these day gigs were only part of the picture. In 2009 DeVitre helped launch StarGreetz Inc. The Los Angelesbased start-up produces personalized videos featuring celebrities and then distributes them to consumers. It also offers personalized digital/viral marketing services for corporate clients. DeVitre was executive vice president and general counsel for StarGreetz until December 2011.
DeVitre was drawn to the Entertainment Studios general counsel position as a chance to expand his Hollywood horizons. Much of the work he does for the studio is similar to that of most entertainment industry lawyers, but working as GC adds on new areas of expertise: "I'm also getting my toe into issues like real estate, human relations, and employment law," he says.
DeVitre earned a degree in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles. He received his J.D. from Southwestern University School of Law.
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The Lion's Roar
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. recast its legal department in mid-May with the promotion of general counsel SCOTT PACKMAN to the expanded role of senior executive vice president, general counsel, and secretary, and the appointment of CHERYL RODMAN as executive vice president and deputy general counsel.
Packman, who joined MGM studios in 2002 as senior vice president and deputy GC, has held the general counsel title since 2005. Already a marquee player, he was instrumental in helping the studio get back on its feet following its 2010 bankruptcy filing. He also helped MGM orchestrate a cofinancing deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment and a distribution pact with Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.
Packman has no qualms about furthering his typecasting as one of MGM's management A-listers. "The new position reflects an enhanced role in the company and on its executive team, which I'm proud to be a part of," he says.
While Packman may have helped lead MGM out of a tumultuous fiscal era, the new appointment brings a fresh set of challenges. He takes over at a time when technology is evolving rapidly and radically altering the landscape of the production industry. Packman says that "helping to guide the company's strategic transactions in an ever-changing world, including in connection with the continuing evolution of digital distribution methods," will be among his more formidable tasks.
Packman holds a J.D. from New York University School of Law, and an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. He began his career in private practice, first at Rogers & Wells in New York and then at O'Melveny & Myers, where he handled legal agreements for motion pictures, television, video games, and intellectual property. Packman's first in-house role was as GC with the entertainment software company Creative Planet Inc.
Cheryl Rodman, MGM's new EVP and deputy GC, will report to Packman. Rodman joins MGM from film studio Spyglass Entertainment, where she was general counsel and executive VP of business and legal affairs. As a veteran of entertainment law, Rodman says she is most looking forward to "the chance to work with a leading entertainment company that has one of the most recognizable brands in the entertainment industry."
A graduate of Harvard Law School, Rodman began her career in the White House Office of Presidential Scheduling and Advance. She then practiced corporate and securities law at Troop, Meisinger, Steuber & Pasich before joining Spyglass in 2002. Seven years later, she left Spyglass to open her own private practice, Rodman Ventures Inc., which concentrated on entertainment and corporate law.