In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog

Will Apple's New GC and SVP Think Different?

Keeping up with the tech industry's recent alleged commitment to employ more women, particularly in management roles, earlier this month Apple Inc. stepped up to that plate. The tech goliath announced that a new female General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Legal and Global Security will be taking over for the company's current GC Bruce Sewell.

Meet Kate Adams, the former SVP and GC at Honeywell, who will now be stepping into that same role but for the much more high profile Apple. Before joining Honeywell, Adams practiced in New York, and had a few rather distinguished federal clerkships, including a stint as a SCOTUS clerk for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, which has an interesting backstory.

Leading the Way for Silicon Valley?

The fact that Apple's new GC and SVP is female is a big deal as there is a serious lack of women in the top ranks of top U.S. businesses. Hopefully more tech companies in Silicon Valley and around the world do more than just realize that women are entitled to equal opportunity in the top ranks. But the fact that Adams is a female shouldn't undermine the fact that she has the type of resume any major corporation would be willing to pay handsomely for.

Prior to joining Apple, she was basically working in a position that couldn't be a better precursor, and is pretty much the top end of where any in-house attorney can aspire. Now, instead of GC'ing at a company that makes thirty or so billion every year, she'll be GC'ing at a company that makes more than double that per quarter. In short, Adams went from one mountain top to an even higher one.

The Supreme "Peacekeeper"

Adams was described as the "peacekeeper" while being a SCOTUS clerk in the early-to-mid nineties, which will likely be helpful for Apple, given their penchant for litigation. She earned that moniker for mediating "clashes" between fellow clerks, which might be helpful for Apple's frequent clashes with fellow tech companies.

In addition to diffusing conflicts to earn her peacekeeper reputation as clerk, an anecdote reveals that she also knows when being a team player is just valuable. Justice O'Connor invited the female clerks to join her and her friends for their all female workout. Although Adams was in great shape and got gently teased by her peers for going to workout with the 70-something-year-old justice, she joined along anyway in order to have that experience of exercising with a SCOTUS justice.

Related Resources: