Jay S. Laifman says he’s excited at the opportunity to head the legal department at Reading International Inc., a Commerce, Calif.-based cinema exhibition and real estate company.

Laifman, who has two other attorneys in his team, is taking on his new role with a specific goal in mind: “I hope to provide the legal support the client wants, while being the company’s guardian of legal and reputational risk without ever having to say ‘no,’” he says.

Laifman spent six years focusing on real estate transactional law in the Century City, Calif., office of Pircher, Nichols & Meeks, but knew he would end up working in-house at a company at some point in his career.

After his law firm gig, he spent 11 years at Countrywide Financial Corp. as deputy general counsel, overseeing and handling legal services for corporate real estate, human resources, intellectual property, corporate contracts and charitable giving. During his time there he became known as a problem solver.

In his new position, he plans to use his skills in smoothing problems and instituting solutions that satisfy everyone to manage any issues that come up.

“While I don’t anticipate any trouble areas here, those skills are always helpful in building and expanding legal protections,” he says.

Laifman believes the biggest challenge for GCs is keeping an eye on the proper priorities. “It is critical to know what is really important to the company and make sure your attention is properly allocated to the issues in accordance with their priorities,” he says. “I used to think that mission statements were somewhat of a waste of time. I now see them as critical in my ability to be valuable to a company.”