Accenture general counsel Julie Sweet ()
Accenture PLC is one of the world’s largest consulting firms, specializing in management ­consulting, technology services and business process outsourcing. Its Chicago roots date to the 1950s as the consulting arm of former Big Five accounting firm Arthur Andersen. Accenture broke off from its parent in 1989. Today, the firm is domiciled in Dublin but maintains major offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and nearly 200 cities in 56 countries. The firm employs 275,000 people globally with revenues of nearly $29 billion in 2013.
Julie Sweet manages an international legal department of 1,500, including 470 lawyers. More than 40 percent of the attorneys are based in North America. The team’s priorities include contract and commercial deal support, compliance, dispute resolution and litigation, intellectual property and regulatory work. In late 2011, Sweet began realigning the department to support Accenture’s growth, creating two specialized global groups: CORE (which stands for compliance, operations, regulatory and ethics) and a separate contracting group. The department has added automated tools to vet gifts and entertainment for public officials.
“Our main corporate firm for general corporate and SEC matters is Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, which represented Accenture when it went became a public company,” Sweet said. “Additionally, we work with three global strategic partners, and in the U.S. we’re making a concerted effort to concentrate the work with 10 firms.”
An Accenture spokeswoman added that the 10 target firms represent “a fraction” of the number the company worked with earlier.
Sweet maintains a hectic travel schedule. “For about 10 months of the year I travel on average every other week,” she said. “In the next few months I will have been in Paris, Davos, New York and Saudi Arabia, with trips to China and India already planned for later this year.”
The team received a 2013 award from the Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago for participating in its Lawyers in the Classroom program, training fourth through seventh graders about “how constitutional law relates to their everyday lives,” Sweet said.
ROUTE TO THE TOP
Sweet joined Accenture in 2010 from Cravath, Swaine & Moore. Sweet, who speaks Mandarin, worked in Cravath’s offices in Hong Kong and mainland China for three years and was named one The American Lawyer’s “Dealmakers of the Year” in 2006 for her work on the $5 billion initial global offering of KKR Private Equity Investors L.P.
She is a 1989 graduate of Clare­mont McKenna College, majoring in international relations, and a 1992 graduate of Columbia Law School. She sits on the board of trustees at Claremont McKenna.
Husband Chad Sweet is co-founder with former U.S. Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff of the Chertoff Group. Their daughters are Chloe, 7, and Abby, 5. In her spare time, Sweet brushes up on her Mandarin and enjoys cycling.
LAST BOOK AND TV
Sweet recently read “The Business Model Innovation Factory: How to Stay Relevant When The World is Changing” by Saul Kaplan. When it comes to television, she watches “The Blacklist.”