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Title: Senior Counsel Location: San Antonio Age: 40 Fresh Perspective Go ahead, call Abel Martinez a miser. Say he’s a stickler for grilling his outside counsel on fax charges and travel-time billing. That’s why Tina James, senior vice president for human resources for H-E-B Grocery Co., just can’t say enough good things about him. “What we expected was some decrease in legal fees” when the grocer hired Martinez in 2000 to handle its labor and employment work, James says. How about $1 million in savings every year for the past four years? “Not at all did we expect that,” she says. Typically, she says, when a company hires an in-house lawyer, “you get a good level of expertise,” but not necessarily someone who understands the culture and has a mind for business. But then, what would you expect from a guy with a financial management degree? “When I was in school, I said, “If I don’t go to law school, what do I want to be?’ It was a bond broker,” Martinez says. Fortunately for H-E-B, Martinez did go to law school. After 10 years in private practice with the former Groce, Locke & Hebdon, he received an offer from the grocer, a longtime client, which intrigued him. “Being in private practice, you never really get to see the end result. [At H-E-B], you kind of work from the very beginning and see a project to completion,” he says. In short order, he completed the seven-figure cost-cutting � which earned him a special company award � by taking on some of the company’s labor and employment work himself and analyzing outside counsel bills line by line. “I’m able to really focus on the small lines in negotiating with law firms on their billing rates,” he says. During the past five years, Martinez has reduced his number of approved firms from 25 to seven � a small stable of regular firms that are willing to negotiate billing rates. Since he did such a bang-up job on one project, Martinez’s boss couldn’t wait to give him more; Martinez soon had risk-management and corporate-compliance functions to oversee. “His job has tripled. It’s essentially one person doing the job of three people,” James says, adding that Martinez has thrived. He is open, he trains people, he shares information, he streamlines processes and then he holds people accountable, she says. “He [has] also had huge process improvements,” James says. “Things that used to take several weeks, [now] take several days.” “Historically, legal departments are generally not revenue-makers. My job is to show that we are indeed � if not cost-savers � revenue-producers,” Martinez says.

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