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During the 1960s, Dennis R. Lewis helped direct artillery fire in Vietnam. Thirty-five years later, the former Marine still supplies firepower for the United States, this time as vice president-general counsel of Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in Grand Prairie, Texas. The job holds less physical danger than combat duty overseas, but the Sept. 11 attacks highlight its importance. Lewis is the top legal officer of a company that develops and manufactures air and missile defense systems, anti-armor and strike weapons, radar and navigation systems, and naval munitions. “Everything I do revolves around giving legal advice that ensures we maintain the best possible relationship with our customer, the U.S. government,” Lewis says. The Department of Defense provides more than 90 percent of the business at the company, which has annual sales of $2.8 billion. Other Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control clients include commercial companies and friendly foreign governments. Buyers have included Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Japan, Israel, Bahrain, Turkey, Greece, Norway, Denmark and South Korea. Lewis spends much of his time drafting contracts, reviewing data with engineers and talking with government officials to gauge their needs. In addition, he oversees Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control’s legal department, selects and supervises outside counsel, handles employment problems, provides input to the company ethics program, and remains on the lookout for possible fraud and waste. The last part is easy, Lewis says, because few problems arise in that area at Lockheed Martin. Lewis says he enjoys the interaction with clients and fellow employees. He spends a lot of time on the phone out of necessity, but he uses a more personal approach whenever possible. “I hate the phone,” he says. “I so much more enjoy talking to people [in person]. I like to walk around the halls and talk.” Lewis, 58, has spent most of his career so far in public service. After graduating in 1965 with a degree in business from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where he grew up, he went to work as a tax accountant for Exxon Co. U.S.A. in Houston. A year later, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he rose to the rank of captain and spent time on combat duty in Vietnam. As a naval gunfire spotter, he helped pinpoint targets. Today, the job is easier with sophisticated global positioning systems; back then, Lewis hand-drew maps to zero in on targets. He switched from leatherneck to law student after completing his service in the Marines, graduating from the SMU School of Law in 1972. After that, he spent five years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas and was the attorney-in-charge of the Beaumont branch office. Next came stints at Glasscock & Lewis in Port Arthur, Texas, practicing civil and criminal law and at Campbell-Taggart Inc. in Dallas as senior corporate attorney handling litigation, contracts and general legal work. From there, Lewis went to Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in 1979. As a former military man, he fits in well at a company that counts Uncle Sam as its No. 1 client. The company — which became Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control with the merger three years ago of Lockheed Martin Vought Systems in Dallas and Lockheed Martin Electronics and Missiles in Orlando, Fla. — is a business unit of Lockheed Martin Systems Integration in Bethesda, Md. Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control employs 8,500 workers at sites in Texas, Florida, California, Massachusetts, Arkansas, Alabama and New Mexico. Lewis works at the Grand Prairie headquarters, where what the company calls a “petting zoo” of scaled-down models of its products sits along the hall outside his office. Three of the weapons manufactured in Texas include the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), which fires surface-to-surface rockets and was used in Operation Desert Storm; the Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) Missile; and the Army Tactical Missile System, a conventional surface-to-surface artillery system able to strike distant targets. As general counsel, Lewis says he gives legal advice, but stays out of the business decisions. He serves as a liaison between government agencies, whose representatives frequently are on site, and Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control workers. James F. Berry, president of Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, says that Lewis works well with the company’s management team and its other employees. The general counsel is highly regarded, and workers — including many who generally would avoid taking an issue to an attorney — feel comfortable soliciting his advice, he says. Lewis treats all employees like they’re his customers, Berry says. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for his integrity,” Berry says. “He’s extremely knowledgeable.” Although Lewis doesn’t make the business decisions, he has business acumen and advises Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control managers on how to reach their goals, Berry says. Lewis supervises three attorneys, a patent administrator and three secretaries at the Grand Prairie office and four attorneys, four secretaries and several paralegals at the Orlando office. He also works with a number of outside attorneys to handle the government contract process and employment matters. One of those lawyers, Kathy Coleman Weinberg, says Lewis not only has a lot of expertise in government contracts and litigation, he also deals well with people. Weinberg, a partner in the Dallas office of the Chicago-based firm of Jenner & Block, does government contract work for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “He is a terrific person to work with,” she says. “He’s always very clear about the scope of the work he wants us to do.” Her colleague in Washington, D.C., David Churchill, chairman of the firm’s government contracts group, says he knew of Lewis by reputation years before he worked with him. “He’s very well regarded,” Churchill says. “Even when he was on the other side of the table, you could count on him always giving you a straight answer. He never cuts corners or bends the rules.” Among the other outside attorneys Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control uses are Marcia G. Madsen, a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Chicago’s Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw for government contracts work; Russell Chapman and Forrest Smith, partners in Bell, Nunnally & Martin in Dallas for labor and employment work; and Craig Gant of Gant & Gant in Dallas, also for labor and employment work. Smith says Lewis always communicates clearly about what he wants. “Without question, he is the ideal client,” Smith says. “He is very intelligent, has great judgment and is virtually always available to discuss matters. Because of the mutual trust and confidence we have developed with each other, misunderstandings never occur.” His partner agrees. “Apart from his intellect and his legal knowledge and skills, which are of the highest order, Dennis always seems to know the right approach to take in resolving a question,” Chapman says. Lewis’ work as general counsel for a government contractor involves both legal and technical complexities, as well as security concerns. He has top-secret clearance, signified by three dots on his employee badge, and constantly must guard against the disclosure of classified material. He also reviews unclassified technical material to ensure nothing gets out that could be off-limits to a foreign government. Craig Vanbebber, senior manager-media and trade relations, works with Lewis in clearing information for publication in technical journals. “He’s the commensurate professional,” Vanbebber says. “He is very conscientious.” Lewis acknowledges he’s calm on the surface but says he’s constantly thinking about which information must remain sealed. Security became even more important after the terrorist attacks last fall. Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control immediately closed all but one entrance to its facilities and extended security perimeters around the buildings. Business also was affected: After Sept. 11, the company started receiving requests to speed up the delivery process on many of its orders. Madsen says Lewis is unflappable. “Dennis works with a lot of high-powered, talented executives in a business that is extremely demanding,” she says. “He’s in a position where there’s a lot of pressure. He works with classified programs. People like Dennis are real patriots, dedicated to doing the right thing for their country.”

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