Of the all the trends in corporate law, one of the most pervasive is the ongoing focus given to bringing a diverse array of voices to the table, tapping legal team members of every sex, race and creed to better represent the myriad of human experience. But encouraging diversity within a legal team is often not as simple as an assemblage of policies aimed at promoting tolerance in the workplace; it requires vision and strong leadership to bring out the true potential in any team member.
Bringing together in-house counsel, law firm partners and legal consultants in Washington, D.C. on Sep. 17, 2014, the Transformative Leadership Awards honor those in the industry who have demonstrated their commitment to advancing women and lawyers of color in corporate law.
Don H. Liu, General Counsel and Secretary, Xerox Corporation
Roderick Palmore Pathmaker Award
He came to the United States as a 10-year old boy who did not speak fluent English. Now, he is receiving the Roderick Palmore Pathmaker Award for “unyielding vision, integrity, conviction and authenticity.” Don Liu has truly shaped his own thoughts and forged his own path. As executive vice president, general counsel and secretary of Xerox Corporation, he leads by example for the Asian American legal community and serves as a role model for many others.
In his role as general counsel and secretary of Xerox, Liu reports directly to the CEO and chairman. He oversees the legal affairs of the corporation, including litigation and patent acquisition. Liu also manages governance and regulatory compliance for the board of directors and is responsible for the corporation’s ethics programs, government affairs and public policy activities on domestic and international fronts.
His innovative and proactive approach has earned Liu many distinctions throughout his career., including: America’s Top General Counsel Honor from NYSE Euronext’s Corporate Board Member; Connecticut Law Tribune’s Legal Department of the Year – In-House Counsel Management Award; and MCCA/America Lawyer Media Diversity Award. These honors and the Roderick Palmore Pathmaker Award make Liu proud, and another recent tribute touched his heart. Liu has recently lent his name to The Don H. Liu Scholarship Program.
Founded by the Asian American Bar Association of New York, the Don H. Liu Scholarship Program seeks to identify and cultivate future Asian American leaders in the legal profession. The goal is to address what is considered the single most important issue facing Asian American professionals today—the barriers to advancement. Work is underway to raise funds and then choose candidates for the first Don H. Liu Scholarship. A pathmaker who continues to explore new concepts and constructs, Liu now is creating new paths for others.
Maryanne R. Lavan, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Lockheed Martin Corporation
Lifetime Achievement Award
Maryanne R. Lavan serves as senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary for Lockheed Martin Corporation, where she is responsible for management of the organization’s legal affairs and law department. She thrives in this role by providing counsel to Lockheed Martin’s senior leadership and its board of directors while serving as a role model for young professionals.
Lavan joined Lockheed Martin in 1990 and has served in positions of increasing responsibility within the legal department. She is praised for her integrity and efficiency and has led the legal department through times of rapid change in the aerospace and defense industry.
Lavan offers strong legal credentials and advice and has a positive attitude and can-do spirit. She lives by a few guiding principles: Treat people well, take everything seriously, work really hard and take advantage of every opportunity. She instills these principles in the many people she mentors—from young professionals to senior leaders at Lockheed Martin. She is a sought-after mentor who always makes time to guide a new mentee. And while they learn from her, she never misses the chance to learn from them, too.
Lavan models her guiding principles both inside and outside the workplace. She is a participant in Lockheed Martin’s Women’s Leadership Forum, which was created more than a decade ago by a group of senior women leaders, including Lavan, who regularly shared conversation and lunch. The annual Women’s Leadership Forum now draws more than 300 attendees network and share career advice and business acumen. She also embraces opportunities to champion diversity, and currently serves as one of the executive champions for Lockheed Martin’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Forum.
Work-life balance is a priority for Lavan who, with her husband Larry, has two children: Daughter Mikayla is a college sophomore and son Zach is a high school sophomore. She is a role model for women and men who are juggling a career and family obligations, and never hesitates to talk about how she balances the demands on her time. She makes sure the legal department works together as a team to support each other.
Deborah Platt Majoras Chief Legal Officer and Secretary, The Procter & Gamble Company
Mary Ann Hynes Pioneer Award
At The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G), Majoras leads a global legal department of nearly 600 lawyers and other professionals, responsible for the broad scope of legal and government relations functions for all of P&G—a global company with $83 billion in sales, and operations in approximately 70 countries worldwide. She is also a member of the Company’s Global Leadership Council.
P&G’s legal department provides expertise and judgment to business partners all over the world across areas including intellectual property, mergers and acquisitions, antitrust, privacy, environmental, securities, labor and employment, and corporate governance and compliance, as well as government relations. Under Majoras’ leadership, P&G’s legal team has balanced the need to be global and local, business-connected and legally expert, simplified in a complex environment, all while addressing work-life effectiveness.
Majoras also serves on the Board of Directors of Valero Energy Corporation. From 2004-2008, she served as chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, and before that, as principal deputy assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice Antitrust Division. Prior to her government service, she was a partner in the international law firm, Jones Day.
Her outside activities include serving on the boards of directors of The Christ Hospital Health Network, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, Cincinnati Legal Aid Society and Westminster College, where she serves as vice chair. She also is the vice president of the Association of General Counsel and is on the Board of Directors of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, an organization made up of more than 200 corporate chief legal officers and law firm managing partners dedicated to building a more open and diverse legal profession. Within P&G, Majoras serves as the executive sponsor for P&G’s employee resource group for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender employees, and as a trustee on the P&G Fund.
Majoras has received numerous awards and recognitions throughout her career. Most recently, the National Law Journal named Majoras to its list of 50 Outstanding General Counsel, recognized for her leadership in diversity, innovation and legal results. In 2013, she was honored by the YWCA with the Career Woman of Achievement award, Corporate Board Member named her to the “GCs to Watch” list and the Ohio Women’s Bar Association honored her with the Founder’s Award.
Patricia R. Hatler Executive Vice President and Chief Legal and Governance Officer, Nationwide
Anastasia D. Kelly Award
In her book, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” Sheryl Sandberg states, “The more women help one another, the more we help ourselves. Acting like a coalition truly does produce results.” If the legal profession had a formal coalition of female professionals, Pat Hatler, executive vice president and chief legal and governance officer at Nationwide, would be one of the founding members.
It is Hatler’s continued commitment to improving the professional and personal lives of others that makes her such a fitting recipient of the Anastasia D. Kelly Award as well as an indelible friend, mentor and sponsor to so many people over the course of her career.
At Nationwide, Hatler oversees the legal, government relations, ethics, compliance, and corporate citizenship functions. Before joining Nationwide, she served as general counsel and corporate secretary for Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia. Hatler is one of a few trailblazing female general counsels at Fortune 500 companies, a role she has held at two companies and for more than 25 years.
Hatler actively seeks ways for all associates, especially women, to succeed in today’s legal environment. Her vision led to the creation of a D&I Council, which was specifically designed to expand diversity and inclusion within the legal organization. With her support, this council has worked to change the corporate culture in ways that help all associates. Today, the office of the chief legal and governance officer at Nationwide is 61 percent women. Half of Hatler’s senior leadership team comprises women, and 10 percent are minority leaders.
Hatler’s mentorship and ability to forge a new model for female leaders extends beyond Nationwide. She is a member of the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), Columbus Conference of Corporate General Counsel and an Adjunct Professor at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. She serves as a director on the boards of the United Way USA, the Columbus College of Art and Design, the Kents Hill School, the Law and Leadership Institute, and the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity. She was also the chair of the Board of Directors of the ACC from 2009-2010.
Lucy Lee Helm, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, Starbucks Coffee Company
Pamela L. Carter Award
Lucy Lee Helm has been a partner at Starbucks Coffee Company for 15 years, and was appointed executive vice president, general counsel and secretary in May 2012. Helm leads the company’s law and corporate affairs department, comprising over 200 partners in 16 offices around the world. The in-house group oversees all of the company’s legal matters and its business ethics and compliance functions. .
Throughout her career, Helm has been a strong advocate for mentoring and for diversity and inclusion. As general counsel, she is committed to expanding opportunities to people from diverse backgrounds.
Under Helm’s leadership, the department developed a Diversity Mentorship Program which pairs Starbucks lawyers with junior minority counsel in the Seattle area. The program’s goal is to encourage these lawyers to stay and grow in the legal profession. The department also surveys its outside law firms to measure their commitment to diversity, and uses the survey to bestow its “Excellence in Diversity Award.” Helm has provided leadership to the company’s partner networks (affinity groups), including the Pride Network, Access Alliance and Women’s Development Network. She regularly gathers the company’s senior women executives for events outside of the office as a way of creating a community of senior level women leaders.
Helm serves on the boards of the global humanitarian agency MercyCorps and the Washington YMCA Youth & Government Program, and recently served on the board of Disability Rights Advocates, a nonprofit disability law center in Berkeley, Calif. She serves as the co-chair for the 2013-14 Campaign for Equal Justice in Washington State. Helm also serves as a volunteer co-director at Camp Parkview, a summer camp for adults with disabilities.
In 2014 Helm received Legal Momentum’s Woman of Achievement award and was recognized by the National Law Journal as one of America’s 50 Outstanding General Counsel.
Sheila Cheston, Corporate Vice President and General Counsel, Northrop Grumman Corporation
Sharing the Power Award
By her own admission, Sheila Cheston would never have believed that she would be an aerospace and defense lawyer. But, between her stint as general counsel of the United States Air Force and her current role as GC of Northrup Grumman, Cheston has found a home in this complex arena.
Currently, Cheston serves as corporate vice president and general counsel for Northrop Grumman Corporation, a global aerospace and defense technology company, where she oversees all of Northrop Grumman’s legal matters and is also a member of the company’s corporate policy council.
In the 1990s, Cheston held key leadership positions in the U.S. government, including general counsel of the United States Air Force where she oversaw approximately 1,500 lawyers stationed worldwide, and special associate counsel to the President of the United States. She has also served as Acting Under Secretary of the Air Force and General Counsel of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission.
Serving in the defense and aerospace industry has taught Cheston a great deal about the complex interconnections between politics, public policy, international relations and corporate considerations. But she takes pride in knowing that she plays a role in protecting the wellbeing of the nation.
Cheston earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Dartmouth College and a Juris Doctor degree from Columbia University School of Law. She is a fellow of the American Bar and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Cheston also serves on the Board of Advisors, National Military Family Association, is on the Board of Directors of Equal Justice Works and the National Partnership for Women and Families. She is on the board of trustees of Freedom from Hunger and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She clerked for the Honorable William A. Norris of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and is an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University Law Center where she teaches international civil litigation.
Jana Cohen Barbe, Partner and Member of the Board, Dentons
Jana Cohen Barbe is widely recognized as one of the most influential and highly regarded women in real estate law. For more than 20 years, she has built a marquee practice advising many of the nation’s leading financial institutions and insurance companies in connection with affordable housing and community development investments. Barbe is known throughout the industry for her deep understanding of the low-income housing tax credit market, a practice in a highly complex area of law that also furthers the social good.
For more than a decade, Barbe served as chair of Dentons’ Real Estate Practice as well as the firm’s Global Financial Institutions and Funds Sector—one of the largest and strongest practice areas of the firm. She has been the top woman rainmaker at Dentons for the past several years, as well as the top real estate rainmaker in Chicago and throughout the United States.
In 2013, Barbe shepherded Dentons’ preeminent team of tax credit lawyers through more than $1 billion in tax credit equity investments on behalf of clients around the country.
As the only woman member of the Dentons’ Global Board of Directors, Barbe is one of only a handful of women in the legal profession to assume a top leadership role. And her success while on a flexible schedule has paved a path for other women at Dentons. Under her leadership and guidance as the chair of the Real Estate Practice, many successful women on her team telecommuted and managed flexible schedules.
Drawing on her own experiences as a woman lawyer, Barbe helped launch and is active in Dentons’ U.S. Women’s Leadership and Growth Network, an initiative to attract, develop and inspire women business leaders through mentoring, training and networking. Recently, Barbe was named to the Midwest Real Estate News Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame. She is consistently selected one of the “Top 500 Dealmakers in America” by Lawdragon and has been recognized by The Best Lawyers in America.