X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Name and title: Christine A. Leahy, vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary Age: 41 The company: Operating primarily in a business-to-business fashion, CDW Corp. provides brand-name technology products and services to other businesses, government agencies and educational institutions. It offers more than 100,000 computer products, sold mostly through catalogs, telesales, the Internet and company extranet Web sites. Major manufacturers’ software, printers, accessories and networking products are among the items for sale. In addition, CDW is a distributor of contracts to end users for on-site services, with a focus on bandwidth, telephony, security, power, network design, storage and software licensing. Its technicians customize more than 1,500 systems daily. The publicly traded company is based in Vernon Hills, Ill., a northwestern Chicago suburb. It has approximately 4,300 employees, and reported 2005 sales of $6.3 billion, earning it the No. 347 spot on the Fortune 500. Its founder and chairman emeritus, Michael Krasny, owns more than one-fifth of the company. In 1982, a three-line, $3 classified ad for Krasny’s used IBM computer precipitated CDW’s first sale. His company now is considered a pioneer in the marketing and selling of computers directly to customers. Daily duties: “It’s the whole range,” Leahy said of her responsibilities. She handles all legal strategy and implementation. General and corporate matters, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) disclosure work receive her attention. Her cadre of attorneys provides legal support to the marketing and sales teams in the areas of advertising and promotion, and she supervises employment cases. Depending on the day, or time of day, Leahy is either a generalist or a specialist. The only predictable thing for her is that every workday is busy and free time is at a premium. Leahy’s agenda is already set in stone by the time she arrives at the office. She added that a general counsel characteristically does his or her “heavy thinking and heavy working” early in the morning or late at night. Technological advances have had a major impact both on her job and her company. The single biggest change is that everything moves more quickly. There are expectations that issues should get resolved more rapidly, with a renewed sense of urgency. Moreover, she said, “Technology has pushed the concept of teamwork: We don’t sit in silos.” The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 has become “a way of life,” Leahy said. It’s “baked in as part of the processes and procedures,” and the emphasis now is less on thinking about it and more on execution. She assists CDW’s finance team in implementing Section 404 as it applies to the assessment of internal controls and overall management responsibilities. Despite her background as a transactional lawyer, the legal chief said, she “thankfully” does not have to deal often with SEC regulators. Legal team and outside counsel: Having had no in-house lawyers, CDW lacked an internal legal function until Leahy joined. The present-day department has evolved from simply addressing problems as they arose to thinking ahead and “not just putting out fires.” It now is better able to work with clients and other business segments, and has become more capable of identifying risks and potential roadblocks. “Faster, cheaper, better-better, cheaper, faster” is Leahy’s mantra. The company’s annual revenues have doubled since she came upon the scene four years ago. Today Leahy manages a group of seven other attorneys on a 17-member staff. Paralegals and support personnel augment the corps of lawyers. She reports directly to Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John A. Edwardson. One-half to 60% of the legal load, encompassing specialized areas including litigation, mergers and acquisitions, board-support duties, corporate governance, and transactional and public-sector sales, is shipped out to external counsel. Included among the firms retained by Leahy or her senior staff members are Chicago-based Vedder, Price, Kaufman & Kammholz and Goldberg Kohn; Sidley Austin’s Chicago office; Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky in Washington; and Seattle-based Perkins Coie. “A whole host” of smaller regional firms handle relatively minor local problems, Leahy said. Maintaining consistency in the relationships with outside attorneys is a key emphasis, and Leahy noted the delicate act of juggling different lawyers for particular needs. It is essential to have legal teams that understand your business, she said. What she referred to as CDW’s day-to-day “operational” work is generally attended to in-house by Leahy or her teammates. Route to present position: Leahy has been with CDW since 2002, arriving as the firm’s first in-house counsel. Previously, she had served as a corporate partner in the Chicago office of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood (now Sidley Austin) from 1991 through 2001. She also performed in an investor-relations capacity at New York’s Makovsky & Co. Leahy achieved a bachelor’s degree from Brown University in 1986 and a juris doctorate degree from Boston College Law School in 1991. Personal: Leahy, who was born in Providence, R.I., likes to run, read and engage in outdoor activities with her children. She and her husband, Adam Weinberg, are the parents of 7-year-old twins, Annika and Samantha. Leahy considers herself a leader first and a business adviser and lawyer next. She is “passionate” about helping CDWers to develop professionally, in particular reaching out as a mentor to other women. Leahy and Chief Financial Officer Barb Klein encourage female managers from across the company to participate in a woman-to-woman network at CDW. More than 80% of them have participated in its three or four annual events. She is proud that her company is “embracing of” diversity. Walking into the job and facing the challenge of creating a law department from scratch-and establishing an “effective and well-thought-of one”-is a career milestone for Leahy. Last book and movie: The GC is juggling All the President’s Men, by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, and The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century, by Thomas L. Friedman. Ice Age: The Meltdown and Crash are her most recent movies.

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

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

 
 

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 © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.