New Member Profile and Interview
Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel
Greenwood Village, CO
Q: Tell us about your background and your law department.
A: I joined CoBank as General Counsel after almost 20 years of law firm practice, including about four years as General Counsel of Holme Roberts & Owen prior to its combination with Bryan Cave (yes, even law firms need a General Counsel!). My area of focus during my years of private practice was transactional, with an emphasis on representing public companies in a variety of industries. This included lots of work with boards of directors on a variety of issues. I led many capital markets transactions for my clients as well as mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and the like.
I joined CoBank about 3 ½ years ago. CoBank is a national cooperative bank serving vital industries across rural America. The bank provides loans, leases, export financing and other financial services to agribusinesses and rural power, water and communications providers in all 50 states. CoBank is a member of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of banks and retail lending associations chartered to support the borrowing needs of U.S. agriculture and the nation's rural economy. In addition to serving its direct retail borrowers, the bank also provides wholesale loans and other financial services to affiliated Farm Credit associations serving approximately 70,000 farmers, ranchers and other rural borrowers in 23 states around the country.
The legal department here at CoBank currently has 19 lawyers and two divisions -- the Office of General Counsel that is responsible for the corporate work of the bank and Legal Loan Processing that is responsible for documenting the loan and lease transactions that the bank enters into. The legal department also participates in the DU/CU Legal Residency program and the 1L Pledge to Diversity to bring in a legal resident and a legal intern each year to work with us in CoBank’s legal department.
What interested you in the in-house practice of law and how did you come to be an attorney at CoBank?
I was interested in the strategic aspects of a General Counsel role – working hand in hand with the business. CoBank was conducting a national search for a General Counsel given a pending retirement and I was very excited to be the successful candidate.
What are some of the skills that you think in-house counsel need to be successful and advance their careers?
First and foremost, in-house counsel need to understand the business of their company and seek to advance the goals of the business while balancing the need to protect the company from legal risks. But you will not have the opportunity to do so unless you develop strong relationships with the line of business so that they call you early and often.
What is the single greatest challenge your law department is facing today, and how are you dealing with it?
Technology is changing the way we all work and it is affecting lawyers in the financial services industry significantly. I work with my team to embrace change; it will just keep coming at us faster and faster.
How did you initially become involved with ACC?
I initially became involved through attending the ACC CLO events locally. I saw the value ACC can bring to in-house counsel and wanted to make that available to the entire team of lawyers here at CoBank.
What are some of the ways that ACC has provided value to you?
To me, the great value ACC provides is excellent programming with a focus on topics that I, as an in-house counsel, really care about. Additionally, the opportunity to meet on a regular basis with other in-house counsel to discuss topics of mutual interest is invaluable.