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Title: General Counsel Location: San Antonio Age: 60 The Weight of Water What’s the best law firm on water issues in San Antonio? The San Antonio Water System legal department. That was not the case before Frank Stenger-Castro took the helm. “It was a demoralized and nonfunctional department,” he says. His mandate, from the first of four CEOs he has worked with in four years, was to rebuild it. “We had been spending a lot of money in legal fees on water issues, many of which should have been handled in-house. Really [Stenger-Castro] was hired to select good people from the outside and get them to be willing to represent the water system. I think that’s one of his biggest contributions,” says James M. Mayor, chairman of the SAWS board of directors. SAWS searched nationally to find Stenger-Castro, who had just left the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The fit was perfect; he had worked in the public sector and also had experience managing legal departments at the USDA and at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. His management strategy? “You have got to become familiar with the issues, but you will never be as familiar with the issues as some of the lawyers that are working for you. You can’t be. Nor can you be involved in too many cases,” he says. Stenger-Castro spent months interviewing talent from some of San Antonio’s top firms. He was looking for competence, a proven track record and compatibility. Everyone took a pay cut, some up to 50 percent. He now has five lawyers � experts in transactions, labor, environmental, real estate and water resources. “On every subject that SAWS is studying and investigating, every one of his attorneys carries their weight in a conference,” Mayor says. While recruiting his team, Stenger-Castro also had to sell his department’s services to the rest of the organization. SAWS was created in 1992 from three city services, and this was the first time that legal work was centralized. “The primary area [of concern] was probably that contracts were being entered into, that I thought did not have any legal scrutiny or insufficient legal scrutiny,” Stenger-Castro says. Another issue was the lack of a uniform process for hiring outside counsel. Stenger-Castro evaluated the existing relationships for 18 months, then weeded out what he decided were inefficient or unqualified firms and developed relationships with the keepers. The process wasn’t just about saving money; legal costs have actually risen, because SAWS has been expanding. Making sure the firms are managed properly is more of a concern for Stenger-Castro. “It’s very important that whatever legal positions we take in the public are really well thought-out and reflect the views of the policymakers and that they be consistent,” he says.

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