Axalta Coating Systems is a NYSE-listed public company doing business in 130-plus countries, with 12,000-plus employees and 150 years of history, yet it has existed as a stand-alone company for just three and a half years. Formed through The Carlyle Group’s acquisition of the DuPont Performance Coatings business unit in February 2013, Axalta has experienced a tremendously active first few years, from its separation from DuPont to an IPO to the evolution into a widely held public company.
Axalta makes paint, focusing on coatings for light and commercial vehicles (e.g., cars and trucks), the refinish aftermarket (automotive body and repair shops) and many industrial applications. Since separating from DuPont, Axalta has planted its roots in southeastern Pennsylvania, with its corporate headquarters in Center City Philadelphia, North America headquarters in Glen Mills and its Global Innovation Center under construction in Philadelphia’s Navy Yard.
Axalta’s legal department, a full-service operation, has been at the forefront of guiding the company through this journey and ensuring its business leaders have the tools they need to succeed.
Michael Finn serves as senior vice president and general counsel at the company.
1. How many outside law firms do you work with?
We work with a small handful of preferred provider firms which enables us to develop both deeper and broader relationships with these firms, and also obtain volume-driven value pricing.
2. How do you find and select outside counsel? What do you look for in the firms you work with?
Our approach to engaging outside counsel is to find partner firms that understand our company and its culture and values, and work with us to deliver exceptional legal counsel and value-driven results.
3. What are the challenges you’ve faced in managing outside counsel?
For matters where our preferred providers do not have the subject matter or local law expertise necessary, we often work with the Advance Law network to find a firm that fits the bill. We are proactive in seeking alternative fee arrangements on various matters, and firms have been cooperative in working with us on these arrangements, particularly on matters where there is less uncertainty on the scope of work.
4. What has been your experience utilizing alternative fee arrangements? Are they cost-effective for you and are firms generally amenable to them?
We are proactive in seeking alternative fee arrangements on various matters, and firms have been cooperative in working with us on these arrangements, particularly on matters where there is less uncertainty on the scope of work.
5. What is the most effective time management tool or technique your team uses?
Our in-house legal team takes a very hands-on approach in managing our outside counsel to ensure the work product and scope of engagement delivers the expected results. •