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Vice president and general counsel, Tyco Plastics & Adhesives Tyco International Ltd. 2004 Revenues: $40 billion Lawyers in Legal Department: 130
Cornell Boggs didn’t have an easy start at Tyco International Ltd. His first day on the job in June 2003 coincided with the company’s first-ever law department retreat. The conglomerate was in crisis; its former CEO and CFO had been charged with looting $600 million, and the Securities and Exchange Commission was investigating the books. Moreover, many of the 180-odd lawyers and paralegals in attendance had never even met before, and the atmosphere was tense. Tyco’s new GC, William Lytton, convened the Florida meeting to improve morale in the legal department. But navigating rooms filled with strangers was nothing new to Boggs, now 44, an “Army brat” who attended three schools in two foreign countries over five years. He plunged right in, raising his hand and moving discussions forward, recalls Lytton. “Almost from the first moment, Boggs served as a leader,” says Lytton. “He has that ability to make an immediate impact.” Leadership was something the Princeton, N.J.-based Tyco, and especially the law department, needed. Former CEO L. Dennis Kozlowski loved making deals, but he never bothered to build a corporate infrastructure to support Tyco’s 2,300 subsidiaries. The legal department itself was little more than a grab bag of attorneys employed by businesses Kozlowski had acquired. When Boggs arrived, no one even knew how much Tyco spent on legal fees. Boggs calls the remaking of Tyco’s law department “our Lazarus experience.” As the first GC of Tyco Plastics & Adhesives, a newly created Tyco business “segment,” he built his own law department from scratch, hiring a chief IP counsel and two associate GCs. At the same time, he worked with Lytton and the four other segment GCs to overhaul the entire law department. That meant everything from choosing a matter management system to setting up practice groups to tracking down invoices and compiling a roster of outside counsel — that list came to over 700 law firms. Tyco took several steps to winnow that roster. Boggs and others set up a reverse online auction for Tyco’s patent prosecution work, which is expected to slash spending from $20,000 per patent to $7,500. After putting out RFPs, the number of outside firms doing product liability work was cut from 167 to one (Shook, Hardy & Bacon). The list of labor and employment firms was trimmed from 55 to one (Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart). Boggs, as it happens, is not one of a kind. His sister Paula, who’s just 13 months older, is also a highly regarded in-house lawyer. She appeared on Corporate Counsel‘s first Shortlist in October 2002; soon afterward, she became GC at Starbucks Corp. Although the two found their way to in-house practice independently, their careers have been intertwined. Cornell Boggs first met Lytton when his sister worked for him at the White House. The siblings’ childhood was hardly typical. In 1972 their newly divorced mother accepted a teaching job with the U.S. Department of Defense and loaded Paula, Cornell, and two younger siblings onto a military transport plane bound for West Germany. They lived on bases there and in Italy. Their mother’s decision made a big impression. “Her example is imprinted on all of us,” says Paula Boggs, “in our drive [and] our risk-taking appetite.” And the Boggs kids worked hard making friends. “You had to be open to meeting new people,” says Cornell. “He is one of those people who values relationships highly,” adds Paula Boggs. Cornell became interested in corporate law at Valparaiso University, where he earned his undergraduate and law degrees. As a first-year law student, he befriended Richard Duesenberg, an alumnus who was then GC of Monsanto Co. and on campus for a week as a “distinguished practitioner in residence.” With his guidance, Boggs decided to clerk after law school for William Conover, an Indiana state appeals judge, and then spent two years as a litigator at the U.S. Department of Justice. After his government stint, Boggs went in-house — and hasn’t looked back. By the time he was 43, he had worked at three top businesses in three different industries: Monsanto; Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc.; and Intel Corp. At Intel, Boggs, true to form, entered the tech industry cold and quickly assimilated into its “aggressive, winning culture,” according to David Shannon, who was group general counsel there and is now GC of NVIDIA Corp. “Either you adapt to that language and process or you rapidly sink.” Keeping his head above water, it seems, has never been Boggs’ problem.

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