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Title: Executive Vice President and General Counsel Location: Dallas Age: 45 Homemade Department When Eric H. Peterson moved back to Texas from Michigan to become TXU Corp.’s first general counsel in 2002, he expected to work alone, managing law firms and communicating with his client, much as he had done for years for TXU while he was a partner in Worsham Forsythe & Wooldridge. Then, in 2004, new CEO C. John Wilder asked Peterson to create a legal department at TXU. A year into that process, Peterson’s group participated in the company’s corporate redesign, decentralizing some of the new legal work and embedding some lawyers in the business units. “It was very exciting,” he says. “You don’t get the opportunity very often where as general counsel of a Fortune 200, you get to build the legal department from scratch.” Drawing on his two years of experience as general counsel for Detroit-based DTE Energy, he created a blueprint and started hiring, with an eye toward top quality. Mark Green, CEO of TXU Power, says when Peterson came back to Texas, “he was a known quantity, a known quality. We had a lot of confidence in him. There wasn’t any newness associated with it.” Most business managers aren’t thrilled with the idea of spending more than $9 million in one calendar year to hire a bunch of lawyers. But, Peterson says, he wanted to hire the best, so he brought in a consultant to analyze Dallas market rates and set his salaries to compete with the top firms. The investment has already paid off. “The financial analysis of paying somebody a little bit more on an annual basis turned out to be the right decision for us, because it was more than offset,” he says. Peterson’s department reduced legal costs by 30 percent in 2004, he says. Expenses are tracked by having TXU’s 21 lawyers bill time, just as they did at their former firms. David Poole, a former law firm partner of Peterson’s who is now working at TXU, and with whom Peterson worked on crafting the new setup, says there wasn’t too much groaning, and the benefits are manifold. “It’s a management tool, as well. It’s a real valuable piece of information to have,” says Poole, senior vice president and associate general counsel of litigation and labor at TXU Power. Peterson says compensation wasn’t the only draw for his new hires. He had to make the work enticing, too. “To attract those types of people, we really needed to be able to flip them the keys,” he says. For example: letting litigators try middle-ground cases, between those low-level repetitive ones and the bet-the-company cases. After two fast years of setup, Peterson is again focusing on his people. “It’s important to me that they have the type of professional experience here that I portrayed that they have,” he says.

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