As Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney lifer Ronald Basso settles into his new role as head of longtime client Black Box Corp.'s legal department, his focus will be less on managing the company's legal functions and more on identifying business opportunities.
"It's not unintentional that my title begins with the business development function," Basso said. "My primary role is to help the company identify strategic business initiatives and help the company do those internally and externally."
Black Box President and Chief Operating Officer Michael McAndrew is set to become the new chief executive officer in April. He and Basso had worked together for years and as McAndrew began to reorganize his management team, he approached Basso about coming on board in a new capacity.
The two came up with a role that brought the business and legal functions closer together executive vice president-business development, general counsel and corporate secretary.
Basso said he will be looking at how Black Box can capitalize on existing assets and identifying acquisition targets.
"Having the legal background and knowledge of the company, the hope is that we can be more efficient and effective" in meeting those goals, Basso said.
In his private practice representing public companies on SEC compliance and corporate transaction issues, Basso said he always felt he could play an important role as a business adviser rather than simply providing legal solutions. Some clients were more receptive to that than others, he said, adding his new role gives him the opportunity to break out of the "lawyer shell."
Basso will be working with several groups within the corporation. There will be a team created to identify strategic objectives for the company. He said Black Box "plays in a rapidly changing tech space in the communications area" and this group will focus on where the company needs to be headed and how it will get there, Basso said.
There will also be a mergers and acquisitions team of business people who will identify potential acquisition targets if the strategy team decides that is a good approach for the company. The M&A team will identify targets, vet them and then help execute a deal if it gets to that point, Basso said.
And then of course there is the legal department. There are currently three attorneys, including Basso, who constitute Black Box's in-house legal team. There is an attorney based in Herndon, Va., who handles the company's government contract business, which is about 20 percent of Black Box's revenue. And then there is another attorney in the Lawrence, Pa., headquarters who is a commercial business lawyer focusing on commercial contracts, real estate, litigation and other matters. Basso will maintain a lot of the duties he had as Black Box's outside counsel, such as SEC matters, corporate governance and working with the board.