Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Name and title: Michael J. Denton, vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary. Age: 52 From airplanes to components: Company namesakes Orville and Wilbur Wright, along with Glenn Curtiss, were pioneers of aviation. The Curtiss-Wright Corp. was established in 1929 with the merger of 12 companies, chief among them Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Co. and Wright Aeronautical. Its antecedents date to the historic Wright Brothers’ flights of 1903. A Wright engine powered Charles Lindbergh’s “Spirit of St. Louis” in its landmark journey across the Atlantic. At one time the United States’ largest aircraft firm, Curtiss-Wright filled the skies during World War II with more than 50,000 planes. The modern publicly traded corporation has reduced its dependency on the aviation industry, and now operates through three business segments centered on the design and manufacture of control elements for aircraft and military ground vehicles; weapons-guidance systems; valves used in refineries and nuclear power stations, surface vessels and submarines; and specialized coatings for vehicle breaking and suspension systems. Customers represent the defense, aerospace, energy and global industrial sectors. Based in Roseland, N.J., Curtiss-Wright employs approximately 7,600 people. Legal team and outside counsel: Curtiss-Wright’s legal department comprises five attorneys and a pair of paralegals. Litigation is mostly handled outside. Firms partnering with Curtiss-Wright include: Satterlee Stephens Burke & Burke in New York (for mergers and acquisitions); Crowell & Moring’s Washington and London offices (for government contracts, export control, litigation and European Union mergers and acquisitions); and Morrison & Foerster’s offices in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and Beijing (for international transactions and litigation). The Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis office in Newark, N.J., helps with labor litigation and counseling. The legal chief reports to Martin R. Benante, Curtiss-Wright’s chairman and chief executive officer. Denton encourages his staff to perform pro bono activities, and he personally has served as a literacy volunteer. The corporation is committed to a diverse work force, as well. Daily duties: Denton is responsible for managing all Curtiss-Wright legal activities. He describes himself as a specialist in government contracts and mergers and acquisitions, but a generalist in everything else. His primary duties entail the coordination of legal strategies both within the company and with outside attorneys. Denton provides direct counsel to senior managers and the board of directors. There is no typical workday; each, he said, is “sui generis” — unique. Sarbanes-Oxley compliance has become “one more routine duty” for Denton and his team, as have his union- and immigration-related responsibilities. Curtiss-Wright’s Washington office handles lobbying, although the law department plays a close advisory role. With the exception of government contracts and securities compliance, regulators typically are dealt with through outside counsel. On defense contracts, oversight comes from various agencies of the U.S. government, including the Defense Contract Audit Agency and the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General. Securities oversight originates with the New York Stock Exchange and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The firm also must satisfy environmental regulators, and it has made a point of reducing emissions and seeking alternative manufacturing techniques. Commercial dealings are less closely regulated and do not require as intimate a level of knowledge, Denton said. By contrast, security issues are of vital importance, particularly those involving export controls on technology with military applications. The government’s classification system represents another level of security involving the way information is stored and disseminated, and to whom. Growth spurt: Curtiss-Wright has completed approximately 40 acquisitions since 2001, helping to raise the company’s annual revenues from $325 million to $1.6 billion in 2007. This strategy of growth through acquisitions stands as a Denton career highlight. He singled out two key purchases. In the first, the company acquired the electromechanical division of Washington Group International Inc., which had taken over the nuclear business of Westinghouse Electric Co. This “enormously successful” transaction helped Curtiss-Wright profit from the “current nuclear renaissance,” Denton said. It provided a foothold in the sale of pumps for nuclear reactors, and those that power submarines and surface vessels. The firm’s acquisition of United Kingdom-based Spirent PLC’s aerospace business also has been extremely beneficial to Curtiss-Wright. Denton’s job has become much more internationally focused, particularly in China. His staff attorneys undertake the “lengthy and arduous” trips there and to other emerging markets, he said. The group is assisted by local counsel abroad, particularly by Morrison & Foerster in Beijing. Innovations prompted by the digital revolution have allowed Denton to conduct his international business more efficiently, especially in nullifying the 12-hour time difference with China. Route to present position: Denton graduated from Dartmouth College in 1977 and from the University of Michigan Law School in 1980. He served until 1983 as a trial attorney for the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Next, he became an associate at the northern Virginia-based firm now known as Watt, Tieder, Hoffar & Fitzgerald. He moved on to Crowell & Moring as an associate from 1984 to 1987. Denton went in-house as counsel and then senior counsel with Westinghouse from 1987 until 1989. General Electric Co. was his next stop; there, he served as compliance counsel, litigation counsel and public policy counselor from 1989 to 1993. Through 2001, when he became Curtiss-Wright’s general counsel, Denton acted in several legal capacities for Honeywell International Inc. (formerly AlliedSignal Inc.). Personal: Denton, a native of Summit, N.J., and his wife, Mary Ann, have three children: Richard, 21; Jessica, 19; and Emily, 18. He enjoys running, golfing and playing guitar in his free time. Last book and movie: “Waiting,” by Ha Jin, and “No Country For Old Men.”

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.