Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Charles DeLeon is general counsel and corporate secretary of GTSI, formerly called Government Technology Services. Based in Chantilly, Va., the company provides technological systems to federal, state, and local governments. Tell us about GTSI. GTSI has been a leader in the government informational technology market for over 22 years. We’re a public company with over 800 employees and $1 billion in annual revenue. We offer federal, state, and local government a wide range of IT solutions, utilizing our partnerships with leading hardware, software, and services companies. Government agencies purchase our products and solutions utilizing our extensive contract portfolio. We provide solutions to customers through teams of leading experts, such as engineers, who understand our customers’ requirements and structure a solution to meet their needs. We team to provide the best solution, but do quite a bit of the work ourselves. What do you mean when you talk about “solutions”? Solutions are a combination of hardware, software, services, and configuration � which is the architecture of all of it � that meet a customer’s requirements, such as designing a security solution that protects against both cyber and physical intruders. You seem to know a lot about the way the company works. I try to stay tuned to our business so we can meet legal challenges arising out of the business. The fact that I give the company’s overview for our employees who have recently come on board helps quite a bit. I enjoy doing it because I have quite a bit of passion about the company and where we’re going. And how has GTSI evolved over the years? We’ve greatly increased the range of what we can provide. In 1983 we were a seller of shrink-wrapped software and quickly moved into hardware, such as IBM mainframe products, to meet the government’s needs. In 1997 our new CEO, Dendy Young, developed a concept, technology teams, where he brought together engineers and technical sales representatives to help customers identify requirements and find solutions. For instance, right after the Katrina disaster we were contacted by FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] � a long-standing customer � because we provided mobile IT solutions to FEMA. Now, FEMA needed to start setting up operations and was looking for support in mobile network equipment. So we put together a solution involving laptops, wireless equipment, support, and services, and delivered it to them almost immediately. Since we already had that solution, we deployed it pretty quickly. That’s where our experience pays off in understanding what our customers are looking for. We’ve also given first responders mobile-communications solutions, so we were ready to respond when Katrina hit. What’s the makeup of your legal department? We have 45 people in our group. First and foremost, I’m responsible for the legal department, which consists of two attorneys and two legal assistants. I also have a contract management and a program management department, consisting of another 40 individuals, reporting to me. In addition, I am responsible for the company’s compliance program, and last, but not least, am the corporate secretary, handling matters related to the board of directors and corporate governance. What’s your job like on a day-to-day basis? I’m responsible for the strategic direction of the legal department, to ensure that we mitigate the legal risks faced by GTSI. Since we are a government contractor, we have to comply with regulatory and state requirements, employee matters, corporate governance, and Sarbanes-Oxley. We’re not only mitigating risk but also facilitating our business, so that when an individual comes to us, we are not viewed as the “sales prevention” department. That’s one of my challenges. One of our biggest challenges is to keep driving strategic, proactive initiatives to grow into a strong legal department. So I work hard to stay focused, keep up with best practices, and to set out a strategic vision for the department. Another challenge is marketing our legal department services to the company. We’re a very fast-paced company, involved in a lot of different business areas, so we have to compete for what I call internal “mind share” with our other business units. As a result, one of our biggest challenges is finding the right tools to market our legal services. We do have an advantage. As an information technology company, we use cutting-edge technology � web casts, video streaming, multimedia formats � to deliver legal information to the company. For example, we developed a program called the “Tuesday Morning Coffee Break.” It’s a two-minute-long web cast, given by various GTSI employees on a monthly basis, covering a particular corporate-wide legal topic. We send out the link, ask people to grab a cup of coffee and spend only a couple of minutes watching this show. The feedback has been great. People tell us, “We love this. Keep it up.” It keeps the attention of our employees. In a sense we’re becoming television producers! By involving people from other departments as presenters, the program is viewed less as a legal production than as an employee production. What’s the best part of the job? The best � and I really mean this � is the quality of the people I work with. My peers at the executive level are very dedicated, passionate people, and I enjoy being a member of this team. It’s exciting to work hard and watch the company grow. I’ve worked for a lot of other companies where I could not necessarily say that. What’s your background? I grew up in the small town of Needles, California, where my grandparents emigrated from Mexico in the early 1900s. My brother, a West Point graduate, was employed by a defense contractor in the D.C. area after his military service. I lived with him and attended George Mason University. I put myself through college and won an Army ROTC scholarship, which paid for my last two years. After that, I was commissioned as a military intelligence officer and joined the Army National Guard, where I spent over 12 years holding a number of positions. It was a great experience. In the military I learned discipline, decision-making, and teamwork. I spent time as a tactical military intelligence liaison officer, which means I was embedded in an infantry unit. One of the jobs of a tactical military intelligence officer is to help the infantry commander and staff better understand the enemy and what he’s doing. We collected data from the field, analyzed it, distilled it, formatted it, and then delivered it to the infantry unit so they understood what they were facing. If the job is to attack the enemy on a hill at the side of a road, you have to know what the enemy is doing. I believe that going through the intelligence cycle is similar to analyzing issues involving the law. How did you get into the law? I was working for the National Guard part time and working full time as a civil intelligence specialist with the Army. I decided that I wanted to do something else with my career. I went to law school at the George Washington University Law School, and after law school went to work for a government contractor, EDS, as counsel for federal contracts. I next worked for PSINet, a large Internet service provider, where I gained commercial high-tech legal experience. After PSINet, I joined a startup software company in Reston. In 2001 I joined GTSI as deputy general counsel and was promoted to general counsel last year. What outside firms do you use? We use a number of firms based on the expertise of the partners. For example, we use Arent Fox for corporate and securities work, McGuireWoods for employment matters and complex litigation, and other firms from time to time. Where would we find you when you’re not in the office? At home with my three boys and wife, playing with the kids. Read any good books lately? I just finished Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazzi. It’s a great book on networking. He speaks from practical experience. Another book I recently read was based on my interest in military history: 1776 by David McCullough. I really enjoy researching and studying historic military campaigns. A lot of key decisions in military campaigns can be applied to business decisions. I don’t glorify war at all, but I do enjoy reading about it mainly for the decision-making and the leadership traits that are found in these military campaigns.

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.