INTL FCStone Inc., based in New York, is a financial services company handling commodities, capital markets, currencies and asset management. With roots going back to 1924, FCStone is ranked No. 39 on the 2013 Fortune 500 list of the largest U.S. corporations, with more than 10,000 customers in 100 countries.
In 2009, FCStone Group merged with International Assets Holding Corp. to create INTL FCStone. It employs more than 1,000 at 30 offices around the world. Chief executive officer is Sean O’Connor. Scott Branch is president.
Rene Friedman heads up a team of 13 attorneys. Among the group are five attorneys in the company’s legal department in Chicago, where she works. The company also has attorneys in Des Moines and New York. Internationally, the department includes one attorney in each of Ecuador, Brazil and Argentina and two attorneys in London.
Matters the department handles break down to about 50 percent transactions and contracts; 30 percent regulatory; 20 percent litigation; and 10 percent employment and other matters.
Law firms Friedman has engaged include Crowell & Moring, for litigation, public policy and internal investigations; Cadwalader Wicker­sham & Taft, for regulatory matters; and Sidley Austin, for environmental and white-collar matters.
When hiring a firm, she has a strong preference for fee caps and fixed-fee arrangements. She also looks for reduced rates and hold-back arrangements. Another consideration is subject-matter expertise. Friedman said she’s a “strong proponent” of alternative billing arrangements.
Friedman’s day begins around 6:30 a.m. with a review of email at home. She arrives at the office at about 8 a.m. and leaves “when done,” she said. At home, she handles email correspondence and calls with foreign offices and catches up on regulatory rule releases and other industry information.
She travels on business at least 14 days a month: “Fifty percent or more.” Her preferred tasks include regulatory strategy, business development, litigation strategy and management. She reports to Brian Sephton, chief legal and governance officer.
ROUTE TO THE TOP
Friedman graduated from the University of Wyoming in 1985. After working in journalism and at a small investment firm, she enrolled at New York University School of Law, graduating in 1993. After law school, she clerked for Judge David Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
In 1995, she joined Sidley Austin before moving to Wildman, Harrold, Allen & Dixon. In 2010, she joined Howrey and in 2011 moved to FCStone as general counsel. Her advice for aspiring general counsel: “Persistence!”
A native of Gillette, Wyo., Friedman enjoys orchid cultivation, cooking, weightlifting and poetry. She is married to Lance Friedman, a sculptor and glass artist. Her children include Adam Pengra, 19, and Veronica Pengra, 17.
LAST BOOK AND MOVIE
Friedman, an avid reader, lately has read “The Instructions” by Adam Levin and “Glenn Gould” by Peter Ostwald. The last movie she saw was “A Matter of Size,” an Israeli comedy about a sumo wrestling club.