As a partner at Los Angeles’ Irell & Manella, Ronald Loeb served as outside counsel to Williams-Sonoma Inc. for more than a decade. The San Francisco-based company — which operates the Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, and Hold Everything stores — had never had a general counsel, a situation Loeb says he talked to its executives about “from time to time.”

Those talks paid off. Upon retiring from Irell in 1997, Loeb enjoyed two years of what he calls “the good life” before his onetime client summoned him to be its first GC. Loeb joined Williams-Sonoma in June; it is only the second legal job ever for the Irell & Manella veteran, who came to the firm directly from Harvard Law School in 1959.

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