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Curtis Schehr is senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary of Anteon International Corp., a Fairfax, Va.-based information technology and engineering company.
Can you tell us a little bit about the history of the company and how it was started? Anteon’s roots date back to 1976, more than 29 years ago. The company’s more recent history, however, began in April 1996, when the company, then a subsidiary of Ogden Corp., was sold to a private equity group and senior management. Ogden, a multibillion-dollar conglomerate in New York, had certain government services businesses that it wanted to divest. The sale occurred in 1996, and the company was renamed Anteon. I joined Anteon shortly thereafter, in October 1996, as vice president and general counsel. What kind of work does Anteon do? We are a systems integrator, providing information technology and engineering services to U.S. federal government agencies and international customers. The range of services we provide is diverse, as is our customer base. We provide services to the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, which account for a substantial portion of the company’s revenues. We also serve a number of federal civilian agencies. Anteon’s success has been fueled by two types of growth. First, we’ve grown through winning new contracts and task orders with both existing and new customers. The federal government has steadily increased the size of many of its procurements, and we have been pursuing these larger-sized contracts with some success. Second, our growth has also been augmented through acquisitions. We’ve made eight acquisitions over the last nine years. We seek to acquire companies that either provide a niche in terms of their skill set or customer base. For example, last year we acquired two companies, one specializing in information assurance and information security and the other focusing on modeling and simulation software solutions. We’re very selective in terms of the acquisitions we pursue. There are many strategic, financial, and operational factors that we take into consideration in evaluating acquisition opportunities, as well as the compatibility of the culture of the target company. We are looking for a “Team Anteon” type of environment. What is Team Anteon? It’s an understanding of the fact that we ultimately have a common set of business goals and objectives. It’s a sense of community through the organization, and a collegial environment. People are friendly, and everyone has an open-door policy. We’re all on a first-name basis. We’ve even extended the idea through things like lapel pins that say “Team Anteon” and with team award ceremonies. With the increased attention on national security these days, have you seen an increase in business? Yes, there has been some increase in opportunities and requirements from the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security. Awhile back we frequently received questions from Wall Street analysts asking if we saw a spike in business as a result of 9/11. We’d say not really � that we’ve experienced steady, continual growth, particularly in mission-critical areas within the defense and homeland security areas. Our annual growth has been in the 13 to 15 percent range over the last few years (excluding our acquisitions). Within the area of homeland security, there’ve been a number of government imperatives we believe we’re well positioned to benefit from. One of these relates to the area of secure credentials and identification cards. We have the capabilities and solution set to provide the biometrically enabled secure ID cards that the government and other customers are requiring. We’ve also long done work in developing and upgrading the nation’s emergency management information system through FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency], and we’ve had a long-standing relationship with the Coast Guard. We’re excited about working with the Coast Guard on their “Deepwater Systems” program, a massive modernization effort by the Coast Guard to upgrade its surface ships, aircraft, and other systems. What’s the size of your law department, and what are the chains of command? We have four attorneys, including myself, in the law department, along with two support-staff members. Everyone reports to me, and I report to president and CEO Joseph Kampf. In terms of dividing up assignments, because the attorneys are so few in number and the volume of the work is great, we tend to be generalists for the most part. Everyone in the department is expected to take on a wide range of issues and tasks. For example, any one of us may be involved in mergers and acquisitions activity or in dealing with an employment case. What would you say are the challenges and benefits of the job? Since we are a government contractor and a publicly traded company, there is a constantly changing regulatory environment. From a legal standpoint, there is a vast array of compliance challenges. When we were in the throes of addressing the myriad requirements of Sarbanes-Oxley, it consumed a disproportionate amount of time. However, because of our ongoing compliance activities as a government contractor, we had the foundation for many of the necessary systems and processes already in place. We recently, along with many other public companies, went through the Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404 effort, which was very rigorous. But we came through it fairly well. One of the reasons I enjoy practicing in-house is the tremendous variety of issues in-house lawyers face. On any day, we might have a mergers and acquisitions matter, an SEC filing, an employment law issue, or a board of directors meeting. For me personally, having that variety brings a certain degree of freshness to the job. You literally never know what’s going to walk in the door on any given day. We also have the opportunity to interface with personnel across the entire organization. Having that interaction with diverse groups across the company is very exciting. At the same time, the position has its challenges. There may be a multiplicity of disciplines that need to be involved in addressing a particular matter � various constituencies who are sitting at the table with you. Our common goal is to arrive at an appropriate solution to a business problem. So, one of the things that I think the attorneys here try to bring is a constructive perspective and approach that helps the company navigate through potential impediments while keeping in the forefront what the end business goal is. We see ourselves as risk managers. You can’t just sit back and say to your client, “Well, the answer is no.” You need to go far beyond that and offer an alternative course of action that still meets the business objective. My approach at the end of the day is that this is a business and we must approach and deal with legal and compliance matters in the context of the business. What’s your background? I worked as associate general counsel at Vitro Corp., based in Rockville, Md. They were a Navy contractor principally. The company was later acquired and is now a part of BAE Systems North America in Rockville. Before that I worked for Westinghouse Electric Corp.’s defense group; today it’s Northrop Grumman. I’ve always been in-house, most likely because I’m attracted to the in-house requirement of working closely with the business team. What outside firms do you use? We use a variety of firms, depending on the subject matter and on the location of the matter. I can mention a few firms that we have long-standing relationships with: Venable; Seyfarth Shaw; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; and Barton, Baker, McMahon, Hildebrandt & Tolle. Where would we find you outside the office? While that’s a fairly rare event, I do like the outdoors. I like hiking in national parks whenever the opportunity presents itself. I also enjoy tennis. Read any good books lately? I’m currently reading The DaVinci Code, the book everyone is raving about.

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