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Whether by fate or hard work and a bit of serendipity, Stephanie Lucie often seems to be in the right place at the right time in her life. The senior vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary of Entorian Technologies Inc. steadily worked her way through the ranks at private firms before making the move in-house. She circled the country from the Great Lakes region of her roots to Austin, Texas, making stops in the Northeast and on the West Coast along the way. She has leveraged her securities experience to her advantage, working for growing companies — Compaq Computer Corp., Alta Vista Co., Cirrus Logic Inc., and Entorian — as they sought to capitalize on cutting-edge technology by going public or expanding through mergers and acquisitions. “From [Entorian's] perspective, they gained tremendous efficiencies — not just from a cash perspective but from an operating perspective — from having such an experienced person there,” says John Gilluly, a partner in DLA Piper in Austin, who is head of the firm’s corporate and securities section and Entorian’s outside securities counsel. Austin-based Entorian was known as Staktek Holdings Inc. before Feb. 27. The company, which has about $56 million in annual revenue, historically has stacked computer chips, primarily for servers. It was in the process of going public when Lucie came on board in 2003, so she was instrumental in making that happen. To company officials, though, Lucie does more than provide astute legal counsel. Not only is she responsible for all of Entorian’s legal operations, including Securities and Exchange Commission issues, intellectual property, acquisitions, litigation, contracts, subsidiaries, and foreign ventures, but she also oversees the 18-year-old company’s human resources, payroll, facilities, and safety functions. Entorian President and CEO Wayne Lieberman says Lucie is deservedly third in command at the company, “not because she’s a lawyer, but because of the other things about her.” “She’s got a passion to win. She has a great deal of experience — not just from a legal perspective but also from a business perspective. She has excellent interpersonal skills,” Lieberman says. “To excel in a public company as an inner-circle person, you can’t just be one-dimensional.” Lieberman, who has been with the company since 2005, says Lucie is involved in every aspect of the business, which has 500 employees and spans 2,000 miles over two countries. Yet, he says, 50 percent of the time their interaction does not involve a legal issue. “To run that type of an operation with different time zones and different legal requirements .�.�. it takes a person who has a really broad perspective on all of the details. She has that, and it’s comforting,” he says. “Normally I see the end result in a positive way and not the process of how we got there.” For instance, he says, during her four years with the company, Lucie has been involved in generating three new intellectual property contracts and she has improved employee relations. “Our turnover rate is very, very low. The reason for that is that Stephanie has a great ear for the needs of our employees. She’s good at conflict resolution, at long-term career planning and putting in processes for that. She set up our entire performance review program. That’s not a legal issue, but we use it for the entire company. .�.�. She’s very enthusiastic about the future of the employees. I would consider her greatest attribute to be that she’s a very optimistic person.” TWISTS AND TURNS Maybe that optimism has helped her get through life’s unexpected turns. Or perhaps it’s the reverse: The trials have taught her how to be optimistic. Lucie was raised in Fruitport, Mich., a 1-square-mile, one-stoplight town. She had a fairly idyllic childhood until high school when her mother developed breast cancer. As a result, the decision to go to college was a tough one. She says she wanted to go — but not too far — so she decided on the University of Notre Dame about 2 1/2 hours from home. Lucie was considering the foreign service and majored in government and Russian studies. She took one semester off to care for her mother and then spent a summer in the former Soviet Union, graduating in 1984. But her mother died during Lucie’s senior year. “It was really hard. I was her only child. We were really close my whole life,” Lucie says. “That changed everything. If that hadn’t happened, I would not have ended up living in Texas. I would have stayed in the Midwest.” By then she had turned her thoughts toward law school, so she got into her car and drove from Michigan to the Northeast and then down the East Coast, checking out law schools: New York University, William and Mary, and Duke, where she ultimately ended up. Her favorite classes at Duke University School of Law were the securities classes, but although the courses covered the laws well, they didn’t take students through real-world applications such as a merger or initial public offering. She says she didn’t get a good sense of what it would be like to practice the specialty until she clerked at Texas firms after her second year of law school. “It’s a common issue for corporate lawyers that you don’t get a lot of that experience in law school,” she says. “You do the moot court and litigation, but you don’t handle a lot of” business matters. Lucie’s clerkships were at Baker Botts in Houston and Jenkens & Gilchrist in Dallas, which closed its doors last year. She chose the firms because she knew some other students who were clerking in Texas, but she had no real Texas ties and therefore didn’t consider going back to either firm after graduation in 1987. Instead, she took a job with Brown & Wood in New York City, which merged in 2001 with Sidley & Austin to become Sidley Austin Brown & Wood, now Sidley Austin. “I thought it would be fun to work on Wall Street,” she says. “It was good training and good benefits, but the hours were long and it’s a tough place to live.” She stayed there for three years, but then romance called her back to Texas. “My relationship ended right after I moved [to Houston], but I decided to stay a year to see what happened,” she says. That year “was one where I made some of the best friendships of my life, grew professionally, and became involved in various activities, including the Houston Young Lawyers Association.” MOVING IN-HOUSE Lucie worked two years for Winstead Sechrest & Minick, now Winstead, to round out her corporate and securities experience with more general business law. Then she moved to Weil, Gotshal & Manges to reinforce her securities expertise within the firm’s extensive securities practice and stayed there two years. The work was challenging and financially rewarding, she says, but all the while she longed to move in-house where she could make an impact on a company’s everyday operations. “It’s a trade-off. You don’t have nearly the number of resources. The compensation’s not as good, but it’s a totally different practice,” she says. “It’s more satisfying. You’re doing a more complete job.” Her first in-house opportunity was with Compaq in Houston, where she was vice president and associate general counsel from 1995 to 1999. Then, when Compaq acquired Digital Equipment Corp., which owned the Alta Vista search engine, and planned to spin it off, she was selected with a few others from among Compaq’s senior management team to move to Palo Alto, Calif., and run the company. She was vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary from 1999 to 2001, handling securities, mergers and acquisitions, board of directors’ matters, corporate governance, stock and stock option administration, and domestic and foreign subsidiaries. She also handled the company’s initial public offering registration process. Next she returned to Texas to work for Cirrus Logic in Austin as vice president, associate general counsel, and corporate secretary from 2001 to 2003. She was responsible for all nonintellectual property legal issues, including SEC compliance and reporting, board of directors’ matters, mergers and acquisitions, and labor matters in the United States and 10 foreign countries. Cirrus had just offered her its general counsel position when Entorian came calling. “[Entorian] had been acquired by Austin Ventures,” a venture capital firm based in Austin and now majority owner, “with a plan to go public,” Lucie says. “I wasn’t looking to leave Cirrus Logic at all, but this seemed like something that would be really fun .�.�. a good career move. [Entorian] had never had an in-house lawyer, so I thought I could go in and build something.” She was promoted to senior vice president in 2005 and reports directly to Lieberman. As a one-person legal operation — until recently — she has worked closely with IP attorneys to execute patent filings, negotiate licensing contracts, and defend the company’s intellectual property. She also works with local corporate and labor counsel in Mexico and California to handle union contracts and deal with human resources issues. Lucie added a second lawyer to her department about two months ago to take care of day-to-day contracts and keep a close eye on new projects to make sure the company’s intellectual property is protected. MULTIPLE HATS Joe Villani, Entorian’s vice president of engineering who oversees the California operation, says Lucie wears multiple hats very well. “It’s amazing that she has so much time to do all of these things,” he says. “I’ll be at home, and I’ll have an idea or a question — it could be 10 at night or 1 in the morning — and I’ll send her an e-mail, and I’ll never be surprised to get an answer right away. It doesn’t even have to be something that’s earth-shattering or an emergency. She’s always available and interested.” Former colleague Todd Rumaner, speaking from Taipei, Taiwan, says he’s a big fan of Lucie. He worked with her at Entorian as vice president of worldwide sales for two years before moving to Pixim Inc. He says he still tells the story of a time when he was on a sales trip to Japan and Lucie stayed on the phone with him working out a deal all night, finally ending the call only because she had to take her children to school. “I had never experienced an attorney, let alone an in-house counsel, that was so supportive of the sales effort on a global basis. It was more than refreshing,” he says. “She’s a dynamo.”
This story first appeared in Texas Lawyer , an ALM publication.

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