Executive Vice President & General Counsel
for an infrastructure construction firm

The Executive Vice President & General Counsel role was relatively new within our long-term client's company, and they were considering how to realign its responsibilities to complement their five-year business plan. Representing this client on multiple assignments and knowing their executive team, structure, and objectives, we understood that ideal candidate qualifications would go beyond legal expertise to include a strong business acumen and the ability to be a key advisor. Early into his role, the secured EVP/General Counsel has facilitated a paradigm shift in terms of what the expectations are for our client's legal function and has created a collaborative and resourceful legal environment that supports the company's planned growth.

Our client is a specialty contractor within the U. S. and Canadian infrastructure markets that serves industrial and commercial customers. Our client’s in-house legal role was relatively new, and they were in the process of realigning its functionality to complement the organization’s five-year strategic plan. They were seeking a highly intelligent and well-rounded big picture thinker to join their Executive Committee which includes the firm’s Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and General Counsel.

Having represented this client on multiple searches and knowing their executive team, structure, and objectives, we understood that an ideal professional would have the capabilities to be more than strictly a legal authority. He/she would also have a strong business acumen to act as a key advisor, and would be able to contribute immediately with the potential to continue growing and developing within the organization.

During discussions with our client, it was determined that qualified candidates would have at least 15 years of experience performing an in-house legal function and broad experience from litigation to transactional elements (mergers and acquisitions, contracts, etc.) and in compliance. 

For this assignment, we worked closely with the Vice President of Human Resources and collaborated with other members of our client’s senior management team. Our strategy entailed targeting individuals within our client’s tri-state area who were currently in a senior legal capacity (General Counsels, Assistant General Counsels, Deputy Counsels, and Partners) within contractors, engineering firms, public agencies, and developers. Particularly, we focused on professionals within contractors that have a heavy civil component. In addition, we explored various private law firms for partners who have extensive experience specifically within construction law.

Ten shortlisted candidates were engaged in the interview process, which quickly became highly competitive. From that group, four individuals were selected to move forward in the process, and that culminated in identifying two clear finalists. Each individual was well qualified, but the factors that set the selected candidate apart were his natural business acumen (which not all attorneys possess), and the overall synergy he had with the client’s senior executive team and corporate culture. He is very cerebral and analytical while remaining personable and pragmatic.

The selected candidate successfully integrated himself into our client’s organization in his first ten months in the role and was able to realign how the legal function interacts with the operations team internally. He nitiated a paradigm shift in terms of what the expectations are for the legal function, and he created a collaborative environment where the General Counsel is seen as a resource and facilitator. In addition, the successful individual has restructured the hierarchy of the legal team which prompted the company to initiate a search for an in-house Counsel to add supplementary resources to the legal unit and support the organization’s planned growth. The search for that individual was also successfully completed by Helbling.

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The selected candidate has realigned how the legal department interacts with the operations team, and has initiated a paradigm shift in terms of what the expectations are for the legal function. He has created a collaborative environment where the General Counsel is seen as a resource and a facilitator.
Tom Dunn, Managing Director - Mid-Atlantic

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