Lisa Gold is the top lawyer for Bedrock Manufacturing Co., but she has no office — not even a partitioned cubicle space.
“This is not your everyday corporate lawyer environment,” says the vice president and general counsel of the privately held, Plano-based company. “Everything is open office space. Nobody has a closed office. I don’t have a cube at all, just a desk. And 10 feet away from me, looking at me, is the chief financial officer, sitting at his desk.”
Gold joined the company in January and has become accustomed to working in the open space, wearing jeans and sneakers to work, and occasionally bringing her dog, a Weimaraner named Petunia Mae, to hang out near her desk.
“It’s a very welcoming environment,” she says. “You just don’t feel like you’re in an office every day.”
Gold decided to become a lawyer when her parents divorced. She was 14 years old and says she went from a “comfortable lifestyle” in Tulsa, Okla. to living in an apartment with her mother and brother.
“I wanted a career which would support me and my family, if I was ever in that situation,” she says. “So, I had the mentality of having a career.”
She earned a bachelor’s degree in 1994 at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Ms. She majored in political science and minored in Russian Language and after graduation worked as an intern for three months for then-U.S. Sen. Don Nickles (R-Oklahoma) in Washington, D.C. and then worked for several months as an associate professor for English at the University of Peoples Friendship in Moscow.
Her first jobs had been less academic. “I had worked in restaurants from the time I was 16 and worked every summer during college,” she says. “Even during the first year of law school, I worked at a restaurant as a bartender at an On The Border restaurant in Tulsa.”
She graduated in 1999 from the University of Tulsa College of Law and spent a decade in private practice, which included stints as a corporate associate with Arter & Hadden in Dallas, a real-estate associate with now-defunct McKinney & Stringer in Oklahoma City and a solo practitioner in Tulsa, Okla. While in solo practice for about 18 months, Gold says, “I was doing some contract work, some real estate, and I was bartending.”
She then worked as a real estate associate in Dallas for almost four years with Kane Russell Coleman & Logan before going in-house with Roofing Supply Group (RSG) in Dallas in 2008.
“Her big deal was that she wanted to be one part of a team, which fit the ticket here, but also wanted to be in a mixed business and legal role,” says Raymond Kane, president of Kane Russell.
“When she got the offer to go in-house, it seemed like the time to do the mixed business-legal role. She jumped on that. I was sad when she left; we had a great run. Clients loved her,” he says.
Kane says that one of Gold’s strengths is empathizing with clients’ legal plights.
“Clients felt like they had a partner, not just a service provider,” he says. Kane notes she was also popular with the firm’s staff.
Kane says he has worked with Gold on some transactional matters for RSG and would welcome her back at the firm.
“I told her, I don’t always do that, but the door is wide open for her,” he says.
Getting the Nod
Janice Davis, a partner in Bracewell & Giuliani in Dallas, recommended Gold for the GC position with RSG. Davis had met Gold in 1999 at Arter & Hadden, where she was a corporate partner and Gold a corporate associate. When Davis’ client, RSG, was ready to hire an in-house counsel, Davis (then a Bracewell partner) suggested Gold for the job.
“She established the internal procedures and processes for RSG because they had not had internal in-house counsel before,” Davis says. “One of the things about Lisa is: She builds a great rapport with clients, which makes her very effective. She builds loyalty, instills confidence, and she is also very creative.”
Gold has used Davis for a variety of corporate matters both for RSG and Bedrock.
“The bottom line is she is a star,” Davis says. “I used to be her boss, now she’s my boss.”
RSG was generating about $1 billion in sales when it was acquired in September 2012 by New York City-based equity firm Clayton, Dubulier & Rice.
In January Gold joined Bedrock. Gold says that a friend knew that Bedrock was looking for a general counsel and introduced her to the company’s owner. Gold says she was attracted to the entrepreneurial spirit of the young company, which was launched in 2009 by Tom Kartsotis, founder of Richardson-based Fossil Inc.
The company operates an animation studio and is a majority- or minority-owner of several fashion-related businesses, such as Shinola, a watch, bicycle and leather goods company in Detroit, and Filson, an outdoor apparel company in Seattle, she says.
She is the sole lawyer and says, “I do everything.” Among the legal matters she handles are issues regarding real estate, social media, manufacturing, pricing, antitrust, human resources, insurance and litigation.
“There are all sorts of questions I get in a day,” she says.
Gold enjoys observing the creative process at Bedrock, which has 35 employees at its Plano headquarters.
“You get to see how products get developed, what they look like, and can appreciate the talent that goes into the work—particularly something like a watch, which is incredibly detailed,” she says. “It’s amazing.”
Gold says she turns to outside counsel for intellectual property matters.
“We use outside attorneys to monitor our trademark portfolio. It’s an immense amount of work,” she says.
She also uses outside help for corporate issues, particularly with overseas expansions. The company has businesses in Germany and the United Kingdom and is starting a project in Japan, she says.
“Employment law, health care, tax structures—the very basics of how to do business in Japan are a lot different than doing business in Europe,” she says.
Gold says she’s on the steepest learning curve she has experienced since law school.
“It’s an amazing opportunity, and I’m just grateful that I have it,” she says. “A lot of people here are in the same boat; to some degree we’re all in over our heads. It’s interesting and exciting.”