X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Name and title: Christopher Barnes, vice president and general counsel. Age: 45 Attorney for the (national) defense: General Dynamics Nassco, formerly the National Steel and Shipbuilding Co., designs and builds ocean-going vessels for the U.S. Navy and commercial customers. Nassco, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Arlington, Va.-based General Dynamics Corp., employs about 4,700 people. The company reported 2007 sales of nearly $230 million, and is part of General Dynamics’ Marine Systems group, which generated about $5 billion in sales. According to one of the parent company’s reports to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, more than half of the Marine System group’s sales were generated by three of the group’s mature ship-construction programs for the U.S. Navy: the Virginia-class submarine, the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and the T-AKE combat-logistics ship. The shipyard is the largest on the West Coast building new vessels and is the main repair facility for the Navy’s Pacific Fleet. Legal team and outside counsel: Barnes heads a legal team of three at Nassco; General Dynamics as a whole employs about 50 attorneys. “General Dynamics runs pretty lean law departments,” Barnes said. “I like to think of our staff as highly functioning utility infielders. If you don’t like flexibility in your work, you probably won’t be happy.” Barnes’ staff includes a labor lawyer and a contracts specialist. Barnes’ own specialty was government contracts, but his job requires him to be a generalist, and he also works on export management compliance and corporate governance. Other specialties, such as litigation, get outsourced; General Dynamics’ policy is to not reveal vendors, Barnes said. Barnes said he is troubled by proposed revisions to federal acquisition regulations that would mandate that contractors inform the government “if they have reason to believe they may have engaged in some kind of infraction.” He finds that idea “striking, because of the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.” Nassco has not signed the Georgetown University Law Center Pro Bono Institute’s Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge or the Diversity Call to Action. “We have not focused substantially on those issues at the business-unit level,” Barnes said. Daily duties: On a typical day Barnes will handle a wide variety of subjects, from contracts to environmental law. “You might have to resolve a regulatory issue, revise or write procedures, provide counsel and advice, answer an angry letter, oversee litigation matters and remind the team of how their work contributes to the enterprise’s success,” he said. “Our chief legal challenge is to reduce the instances of litigation.” One of the perks of the job is being able to watch the big ships being assembled in the yard. “Watching a four-crane, 600-ton lift is pretty cool,” Barnes said. “In the shipyard, you’re building in pieces, assembling huge steel blocks. It’s an incredible ballet of cranes, people on the ground and people on the ship.” Barnes enjoys being close to the action. “In this job you can walk 100 feet from the law department office and put your hands on the product we make,” he said. “It’s a different feel than being 100 miles from the product as part of a law firm. I like the idea of being part of a team, and knowing I helped in small part in sending that ship out to sea, to get it launched on time and on budget.” He reports to Frederick Harris, Nassco’s president, and David Savner, General Dynamics’ general counsel. Barnes interacts with environmentalists who monitor pollution in San Diego Bay. “We realize we are in a sensitive area, and we care about the bay,” he said. “So we try very hard to make sure we have good relationships with the bay’s constituent groups.” Route to the top: Barnes earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1984 with a major in communications research. He earned his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1987. After law school, he returned to Philadelphia, landing a job at the firm now called Saul Ewing. The late 1980s were a “go-go time,” he said, when firms were hungry for litigation and corporate associates. As Barnes’ practice gravitated from commercial litigation to one centered on government contracts, he headed west to take a position in Los Angeles with (now defunct) Pettit & Martin. He later moved to Howrey Simon (now simply Howrey), where he made partner. After seven years there, Barnes’ contacts with the defense contractor McDonnell Douglas Corp. led him to an in-house position in Seal Beach, Calif., with The Boeing Co. Among Barnes’ career highlights was helping to put in place the new airport screening systems following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. “I was at Boeing, and they were asked by the Department of Transportation to help implement systems mandated by Congress,” he said. “My job was to negotiate with vendors of scanning machines, and negotiate, on an airport-by-airport basis, things like insurance and risk-management issues.” Despite the urgency of the situation, “it was not an easy task,” Barnes said. “The airports were not just jumping to my command. But we hit the time line that Congress set out, at the end of 2003.” Barnes joined Nassco in 2006. His only career regret, he said, is not going in-house sooner. “I enjoy being closer to the product, closer to people making decisions about the product, and being part of the team that’s making it happen,” he said. Personal: The native of Kingston, Jamaica, is married to Virginia Bushell. Away from the office, Barnes favors weekend bikes rides along the San Diego coastline and ski trips with his wife to Park City, Utah. Last book: The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, which Barnes described as a “father and son in a post-apocalyptic America looking for salvation. The future looks foreboding and bleak, but it’s also about the ages-old struggle of a father to guide his son through life, and deliver him into a world you hope will treat him kindly.” Last movie: The Lives of Others, about the former East German secret police. Barnes said the movie reminded him of the old phrase, “the banality of evil,” in a society in which “everyone is reduced to a folder.”

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.