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Title: Director of Legal Affairs Location: Dallas Age: 34 Crash Course Christopher S. Willis enjoys just being a cog in the wheel of Interstate Battery System of America Inc. these days. Of course, upon his arrival in January 2005, he was greeted with: “Welcome aboard. We’ve just decided to do franchising again. I know you haven’t done any franchising law, but this is a great opportunity for you, and we’re going to get this out by the beginning of May.” “Chris’ greatest strength is his greatest liability,” Gardere Wynne Sewell partner Robert M. Hoffman says. “He can never say “no.’ He will do whatever it takes to help anyone who needs his help. That creates 16-hour days and lots of headaches.” Willis started his in-house career in 2000 with Cunningham Lindsey US, when it was part of one of the world’s largest risk-management third-party administrator/insurance claims-adjusting companies. He then weathered five years of president-shuffling, flagging financial support from the parent company, the loss of the largest client of a division to receivership, regulatory issues, and large-scale employee theft and subsequent changes in ethics and compliance protocols. Not to mention the legal work, such as a company-doubling acquisition and then a divestiture six months later. All of this occurred at the same time Willis was creating a paperless legal department. Hoffman, who worked with Willis during those turbulent years, credits him with helping keep Cunningham Lindsey US afloat. “He was like Job for so long,” Hoffman says. “Change is hard. You either adapt or you die, and Chris helped them change.” Having had his fill of crisis management, Willis departed for start-up RG America Inc., to try something entrepreneurial. “Working for a public company was attractive to me,” Willis says. “Unfortunately, things were not as rosy, financially, as anyone expected.” Four months later, Willis accepted an offer from Interstate Battery (IB). In addition to his crash course in franchise law, he used his risk-management experience to tighten up IB’s policies. Walt Holmes, now IB’s general counsel, thought of Willis first when the company’s legal work became particularly heavy. Holmes says that from that first franchise project � which would have been much pricier if Willis hadn’t schooled up quickly and done so much of the work himself � Willis has won over everyone with whom he has worked at IB. Willis says he likes “being a cog in a business,” adding, “I think lawyers get sucked into thinking they are it.” But, after the last five hectic years, he has no such delusions.

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