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What was your route to the top? I worked nearly full time through undergrad at a complex civil litigation firm in a staff position. After holding various law clerk positions during law school, I graduated in the height of the recession. I left law school without a job offer but passed the bar on the first try. Shortly thereafter I was offered a job making $17.00/hour as an associate attorney at a small civil litigation firm. While not the salary I had hoped for, I viewed it as an opportunity to get great practical experience in the courtroom and within a month after receiving my license, tried my first insurance defense case. I managed a heavy, busy docket. Thereafter, I was offered a role in-house at a privately held German company’s headquarters north of Detroit. While much of the automotive industry was going through bankruptcy, I was able to help position the North American operating company for future growth. We established the first regional law department outside of the company’s central legal department in Germany. This model was later scaled to Austria, Russia, and China. I was promoted to Director of Legal Affairs sometime thereafter and traveled to Europe often. Thereafter, I was offered an opportunity to come to Gordon Food Service and build their legal function. It will be five years in February.

What keeps you up at night? (i.e. What are your biggest business-related concerns?) As the world has become so much more dependent on technology, unique legal considerations have followed. Cybersecurity is on the forefront of every General Counsel’s mind, and the pace at which bad actors mature their campaigns and become more sophisticated keeps me awake at night.

James Schroeder


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