Legal departments in most companies had been doing the work of legal operations for decades, but just not giving it a name. However, in 1995 with a new general counsel, First Bank System, now U.S. Bank, brought on its first director of legal operations. Mary Baker has helped grow the legal department and expand the scope of legal operations to other parts of the business.

At the time, Baker had spent 16 years in an administrative leadership role at Dorsey & Whitney when a senior partner at the firm, Lee Mitau, was tapped to be general counsel at First Bank System. Baker switched jobs with him and had been made the director of legal operations. Her first initiative was to grow the law division.