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3 Great GCs and What You Can Learn From Them

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on April 23, 2015 1:55 PM

Successful people need inspiration, whether it's in the form of an encouraging mentor, a historical legal champion or just hilarious and well-written legal documents. In-house attorneys, or those aspiring to be one, can take motivation from the best GC's in the country. Here's a few that we think have careers worth emulating.

So, aside from being brilliant and hard working, how did some of the best general counsels in the world end up where they are today -- and what can you learn from them?

Scott Alvarez: Work Your Way Up By Being a Constant Presence

How do you become GC to one of the most important financial institutions in the world? If you're Scott Avlarez, it's through working your way up from the inside while integrating yourself into the central operations of the organization. Alvarez is "a major player in everything" whose role can't be understated, according to a source speaking to The New York Times. Alvarez started at the Fed in 1981, becoming general counsel twenty three years later. That's a long time to stick it out at one organization, but it also means Alvarez is intimately familiar with almost all aspects of the Federal Reserve.

Ivan Fong: Focus on Prevention and Innovation

Ever since Romy White and Michele Weinberger revolutionized the note-taking industry with the invention of Post-its, 3M has been associated with innovation. As GC for this massive organization, Ivan Fong tries to bring that same spirit to the legal department. As a former GC for the Department of Homeland Security, Fong has a knack for avoiding threats before they arise. As general counsel, he's upped the company's protection against cybersecurity threats, focused on improving corporate compliance, and gone after overseas bribery violations. At the same time, he's brought the company into the future by increasing online training and utilizing tech to reduce litigation costs.

Lucy Lee Helm: Take Advantage of Diversity

Maybe it's the constant caffeine buzz that makes Helm so indefatigable, especially when it comes to ensuring a diverse workforce. As general counsel of Starbucks, Helm has made a name for herself by making diversity a key focus of the company's legal practice. That includes her in-house legal team, where two thirds of the workers are women and one third are minorities, as well as in the law firms they work with. Helm attributes the focus on diversity as part of the reason Starbucks remains competitive in the global marketplace.

Got any more ideas of a GC to emulate? Let us know via Twitter (@FindLawLP) or Facebook (FindLaw for Legal Professionals).

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