It’s not always easy to be first. Julie Kinch said she felt “tons of trepidation” back in 1998 when she joined Dutch beer company Heineken as its first U.S. general counsel and was tasked with building its in-house legal function from the ground up.

But the former White & Case attorney made a smooth adjustment, so much so that as of December, she will be celebrating two decades with the company. In that time, Kinch, who was named Heineken USA’s senior vice president and chief legal officer in 2006, has had a front row seat to watch the rapid evolution of legal departments and their leaders across numerous industries.

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