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Name and title: Susan Hackett, senior vice president, general counsel Age: 46 Looking out for corporate lawyers: The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is the bar association for attorneys who practice in the legal departments of corporations and other private sector organizations. It seeks to improve public understanding of the role of in-house attorneys, help set standards for corporate legal practice and contribute to its members’ continuing education. Founded in 1982, the Washington-based association counts 23,586 members in 73 countries representing more than 10,000 organizations, including many of the world’s most important companies. Hackett’s biggest challenge in a post-Enron, post-Sarbanes-Oxley world is the same one her peers face daily. “There’s such an incredible amount of regulation and the high expectation of perfection � of companies never falling down or failing . . . .[I]t’s this sense of, ‘What is it that I don’t know about that I’ll read in tomorrow’s paper?’ “ Corporate counsel need the ability to see around corners, Hackett said, or wonder later why “you couldn’t have seen this coming. With the pace of business today, it’s almost impossible to keep up and have the sense that you’ve got it covered.” Particularly worrisome is potential liability under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. “You may have someone who represents the company halfway across the world, where cultural traditions are different, and it’s very difficult to police those kinds of things,” she said. “Lawyers are worried that their clients will be targeted [for conduct] in places where it’s just the norm to make a payment to grease the skids or to buy access.” Closer to home, corporate counsel confront a thicket of ethical and corporate governance issues when deciding, for example, whether to open an internal investigation, sometimes on nothing more substantial than an anonymous tip. “It doesn’t usually walk in the door with a name tag that says, ‘I’m a huge problem,’ ” Hackett said. “ People will go back and look at your actions with 20/20 lenses. You know: ‘How will this look six months from now when I’m on Larry King defending the company?’ “ Hackett estimated ACC revenues at about $14 million. “We’re the bargain of the corporate legal marketplace,” she said. “We’re a nonprofit, so we act large on a small budget. We’re the leanest, meanest, most nimble folks you’ll meet in the nonprofit world.” Daily duties: Hackett comments on legal issues in the news media and lobbies Congress on the association’s behalf. She cited her work with a broad coalition including the American Civil Liberties Union and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the Attorney-Client Privilege Protection Act, approved by the U.S. House of Representatives in November and awaiting Senate action. Hackett spearheads the ACC’s pro bono efforts, including joint sponsorship � with Georgetown University Law Center’s Pro Bono Institute � of the Corporate Pro Bono Challenge, which marshals corporate law departments to meet unmet legal needs. The ACC is involved with the Corporate Legal Diversity Pipeline, working with Georgetown’s Street Law Inc. project to encourage diverse high school students to seek legal careers. Additional allies include the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA), of which Hackett was a founding director; and Equal Justice Works, in co-sponsoring the Katrina Initiative, which provides legal assistance to hurricane survivors. The ACC supports both the Pro Bono Institute’s Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge and “A Call to Action,” a diversity campaign launched by a number of corporate law departments. Hackett reports to association President Fred Krebs and to a volunteer board of directors. Legal team and outside counsel: Hackett supervises a staff of about 15 lawyers, with about half solely involved with ACC as the employer-client. The others handle special projects � research, for example, and crafting best-practices information for distribution to ACC members. “We use outside counsel differently than our members do � to create resources for our [Web] site, or help us develop issues on behalf of the profession,” Hackett said. “There’s very little retention to handle a specific legal matter, and we don’t really have litigation, for instance.” Occasionally, firms wind up paying for the privilege of working with ACC � by sponsoring an information package, for example. Route to the top: Hackett received a bachelor’s degree from the James Madison College at Michigan State University in 1983 with a dual major in international relations and political philosophy. She secured her law degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 1986. Hackett moved to Washington and took a job with the now-defunct Ross & Duerk. After about a year she moved to Washington-based Patton Boggs, where she was a transactional attorney. She didn’t much care for the work. “I just wasn’t cut out for a law firm,” she said. “So being unwilling to fail, I decided I better find something I was good at or I’d be really unhappy.” Her search led Hackett to a posting on the George Washington University Law School job board seeking someone to develop programs and publications for a new organization that would focus on the corporate bar. It would become the ACC. The organization “wanted a lawyer and couldn’t find one � this was the go-go ’80s, and everyone wanted a big-suit law firm job. And since I wanted to try my hand at a more entrepreneurial skill set, it was a marriage that worked for both of us,” Hackett said. “Now everyone thinks I was prescient, but really, I was lucky. Now corporate counseling is the place to be, and since I was in before it got cool, I was positioned in a great job with a front-row seat on the legal issues, the executive focus and compliance-focused resource lines that now drive both the in-house and outside practice.” Personal: Born in Detroit, Hackett enjoys cooking and avows that she pours a mean martini. She’s into sports, working out and reading. She and her husband, Richard Hagerty, a partner at Atlanta-based Troutman Sanders, have two daughters, ages 5 and 8. Last book and movie: Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri, and Ratatouille. Of the book, a compilation of short stories involving second-generation Indian immigrants coping with culture clash in the United States, she said: “I love reading about things that take me beyond my personal experiences.”

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