You might think the U.S. division of Italy’s largest pasta maker would hire a big national law firm when it set up shop here. But Barilla America, Inc., did just the opposite back in 1996. After locating the division’s headquarters in Bannockburn, Ill., just outside Chicago, it hired Much Shelist, a local firm with about 85 attorneys.

Since then, the firm has handled almost all of the division’s legal work, from protecting trademarks to negotiating contracts for manufacturing facilities. And partner David Brown functioned as its general counsel until the company hired Jeffrey Liebling three years ago to be the division’s first official top lawyer. But Brown even played a role in that, too.

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