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Considering her intense, fast-paced background, Paula Boggs seems an appropriate fit for legal chief at a company based on caffeine: Starbucks Corporation. Boggs trained as an Army paratrooper after college and, a few years out of law school, spent a grueling three months as part of the White House’s Iran-contra defense team. Later, she took a sabbatical from private practice to help the U.S. Navy investigate the Tailhook sex scandal. And in 1997 Boggs traded her partnership at Seattle’s Preston Gates & Ellis to become a deputy general counsel in charge of Dell Computer Corporation’s worldwide litigation. This past August, Boggs left Dell to become Starbucks’s new executive vice president, general counsel, and secretary. At the Seattle home of the coffee retailer, Boggs now runs the 54-person legal department and reports directly to CEO Orin Smith. The lawyer oversees all of the company’s legal affairs, including its vast real estate and intellectual property portfolios. The vacancy Boggs filled opened up last spring when longtime Starbucks executive Shelley Lanza resigned her post as head of Starbucks’s legal, human resources, and social responsibility departments. Press accounts described an organizational shuffle that divided up the leadership of those three categories. (Lanza declined to comment.) To those who know Boggs, Starbucks found just the right replacement ["The Shortlist," October]. Kirk Dublin, Preston Gates’s managing partner, calls her “a great move for Starbucks,” adding, “Paula has a life force that energizes everyone around her. And she’s flat-out smart.” Dublin also calls Boggs well equipped for the job. Indeed, in addition to her experience as a big-firm partner and in-house litigation head, Boggs has been a federal prosecutor, a delegate to the American Bar Association, and a member of the board of trustees for her undergraduate alma mater, Johns Hopkins University. (She earned her law degree at the University of California’s Boalt Hall). “Paula is so unbelievably polished and accomplished,” adds David Howard, a former colleague and partner at Philadelphia’s Dechert. “She’s one of those people who makes you wonder where you’ve gone wrong with your own career.” These days, Boggs’s career is taking her to a place she likes to call home. That’s how the Washington, D.C., native says she feels about Seattle, after falling for the Emerald City during a trip just after law school. “I’m thrilled to be taking this job,” Boggs says. “Plus, I love Starbucks coffee.”

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