Chicago-based Integrys Energy Group Inc. was launched in 2007 after WPS Resources Corp. and People’s Energy merged to create the major Midwestern energy holding company. It owns six regulated utilities in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The company serves roughly 1.7 million natural gas customers and 495,000 residential, commercial and industrial and wholesale electric customers, and provides retail energy supplies and services through a nonregulated unit. Its 2012 revenues amounted to $4.2 billion. The company has about 5,000 employees.
Jodi Caro heads a legal department of 10 attorneys that includes herself and four support team members. Eight attorneys are based in Chicago and two are in Green Bay, Wis. She joined the company’s legal department in 2008 and was named its head in February 2012. The bulk of the departmental work is focused on supporting Integrys’ regulated businesses and their transactions, she said.
“The next big tranche of time is spent on employment matters,” she said. “Not much time on litigation, thankfully.”
The company uses Foley & Lardner for corporate, regulatory, environmental and benefits support, and Chicago’s Rooney Rippie & Ratnaswamy primarily on regulatory cases and related matters. For litigation and tort claims, Integrys uses a variety of local firms, including Johnson & Bell of Chicago. Caro deals with more than 20 outside firms, relying on local counsel in the areas where it operates. Since 2008, she’s cut outside counsel spend nearly in half, she said, through fee deals tailored to particular assignments and “lots of communication.”
Caro typically works a 12-hour day, starting at around 7 a.m. with time for reading, getting organized and meeting with her administrative assistant “to see how my day’s going to run,” she said.
She balances department management and legal work: “We are all working attorneys in the department. I manage my team and I do my own transactions. It can vary from a simple nondisclosure agreement to transactions and strategic negotiations. You name it, I do it, but we don’t have the same workload every day.”
ROUTE TO THE TOP
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Caro graduated in 1989 from Chicago-Kent College of Law. She began her career at a small Chicago firm, Vasquez & Vasquez, and in 1991 went in-house at Convenient Food Mart Inc. She quickly realized that her experience as a generalist at the small firm was solid training for in-house work. In 1993, she joined the company that later became MCI WorldCom and then left to become general counsel and co-founder of Looking Glass Networks Inc. In 2008, she joined Integrys as vice president for legal services.
Caro’s husband “is not a lawyer, which is why we’ve been married for 26 years.” She has a daughter in college. Her primary interest is “hanging out with family.” She’s been a tutor with Chicago Youth Programs for more than six years.
LAST PLAY AND TV SHOW
Caro loved the Tony Award-winning musical “Kinky Boots” when it was in tryouts in Chicago. She also enjoys reality TV: “I watched ‘Dancing with the Stars’ last night, and yes, I stayed up to watch Snooki.”