Based in Atlanta, Georgia-Pacific is among the world’s leading manufacturers and marketers of tissue, pulp, paper, packaging, building products and related chemicals. Its familiar brands include Quilted Northern, Angel Soft and Stainmaster household cleaning products. Georgia-Pacific is also a leading supplier of building products for commercial and residential construction, as well as a leading supplier of fiber-based packaging and cellulose.
In late 2005, Wichita, Kansas-based Koch Industries Inc. purchased Georgia-Pacific. Last year, the company celebrated its 90th anniversary, and today it operates nearly 200 facilities and employs about 35,000 people.
Tye Darland serves as senior vice president and general counsel.
Georgia-Pacific’s legal team consists of 112 people, including 54 attorneys, 37 paralegals/paraprofessionals and 21 other personnel. The department is organized by business and capability areas, with business attorneys assigned to each of the company’s three major business units—consumer products, building products and packaging and cellulose. In addition, attorneys are assigned to eight different capability areas: mergers and acquisitions/real estate; litigation; patent; trademarks; employment/labor/benefits; procurement; investigations/safety/compliance; and environmental.
“With the breadth of knowledge we have in the legal department, we obviously try to keep as much work [internal] as we can,” Darland said. “We also coordinate with the legal departments of the other companies that are also under the Koch Industries’ umbrella to ensure best knowledge is being applied on any given matter.”
“Georgia-Pacific uses outside counsel to supplement its internal resources,” Darland said, adding that he will outsource when the department lacks specific expertise in-house or needs extra help on a matter.
On any new matter, Darland says he first looks to one of the department’s 24 panel firms selected through a joint process with all the Koch Industries’ sister companies.
Local firms on that panel are Jones Day, Alston & Bird, Eversheds Sutherland, Butler Snow, Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani, Hunton Andrews Kurth (Hunton & Williams), Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, Holland & Knight, Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart and King & Spalding (for mergers and acquisitions work).
“A typical day for me is helping others in the department think through the best way to solve issues, managing the diverse needs and expenses of a large legal department staff and meeting with senior management on matters,” Darland said.
Route to the Top
After graduating from University of Iowa College of Law in 1989, Darland worked for a large Kansas City law firm for four years. In June 1993, he joined Koch Industries in Wichita, Kansas, where he worked until the end of 2005 on most of the M&A transactions for Koch, including its purchase of Georgia-Pacific in December 2005. At the time, Darland was the co-GC at Koch.
When that deal closed, Darland was named to his current role, where he has been for nearly 13 years, and relocated to Atlanta.
Darland and his wife, Cathy, have been married for nearly 34 years and have three grown children: a 27-year-old son who works in the strategy and business development group at Georgia-Pacific; a 24-year-old son pursuing his master’s degree in public policy at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.; and a 21-year-old daughter who is a rising senior at Georgia Tech.
The Georgia-Pacific GC said he and his wife are “passionate about giving opportunities to students pursuing the legal profession.” He said they’ve funded scholarships at Georgia State University, the University of Iowa and Vanderbilt University.
“I’ve also enjoyed giving back to the Atlanta community I call home and currently serve on the board of Piedmont Healthcare, Zoo Atlanta, the Federalist Society and the Atlanta Police Foundation,” Darland noted. “I’m also a member of the Board of Visitors for Georgia State University, Board of Law.”
Darland last read “Beneath a Scarlet Sky,” by Mark Sullivan, a book based on the true story of a young Italian resister during World War II who ends up being the personal driver for Hitler’s main general in Italy. The GC said he is an avid reader of both fiction and nonfiction.