March 13, 2018 – Legal recruiting has largely been booming this year. Recently, recruiters Heather Fine and Michael Sachs from Major, Lindsey & Africa (MLA) helped place Sylvia A. Stein as vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of Modine Manufacturing Company in Racine, WI.
Ms. Stein joins Modine with 25 years of experience in the legal field. Most recently, she was the associate general counsel for marketing & regulatory at Kraft Heinz in Chicago, where she led the legal team for the U.S. retail business units, food regulatory, marketing services and data privacy functions. Previously, Ms. Stein spent 14 years at Kraft Foods, holding a series of legal roles of increasing responsibility. Earlier in her career, she was a litigation associate at Latham & Watkins in Chicago.
“We are thrilled to welcome Sylvia to our team,” said Thomas A. Burke, president and CEO. “She possesses the right combination of legal experience, business knowledge and leadership skills to help Modine execute our global business strategies.”
In her new role, Ms. Stein will serve as a legal advisor to Modine’s senior management team, business unit leaders and board of directors. She will also lead the global legal, compliance and intellectual property functions.
Modine, which saw revenues of $1.5 billion last year, specializes in thermal management systems and components, bringing highly engineered heating and cooling components, original equipment products and systems to diversified global markets through its three complementary business units: Vehicular Thermal Solutions, Commercial & Industrial Solutions and Building HVAC Systems.
Ms. Fine, who works from MLA’s Chicago in-house practice group, specializes in placing attorneys in corporate legal departments in a variety of industries. She handles in-house searches ranging from corporate counsel positions to general counsel roles in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, higher education, consumer products, telecommunications, retail, technology, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, professional services and financial services. Over the last several years, Ms. Fine has handled searches for public and private companies of all sizes, including several Fortune 500 companies.
Mr. Sachs is a partner in the search firm’s Chicago office. He specializes in placing attorneys at all levels – from junior counsel to general counsel – in corporate and university legal departments. He frequently lectures at law schools about career planning and development. He has also authored several articles concerning challenges and opportunities in corporate legal recruiting.
General Counsel: A New Pathway to CEO
The general counsel role has been vital for companies maintaining an international presence. “The role and stature of the general counsel position has expanded globally,” said Paul Williams, a partner in MLA’s Chicago office.
Legal Recruiting On the Rise
Legal recruiting continues to be a hot area for search firms. Lawyers employed by government agencies in particular have been on the move as a result of changes in government administrations, according to Hunt Scanlon Media. Employment of lawyers is projected to grow 10 percent through 2022. Demand for legal work is expected to be robust as individuals, businesses and all levels of government require legal services in the U.S. and internationally as global economies expand.
A general counsel, chief counsel or chief legal officer is the chief lawyer of a legal department, usually in a company or a governmental department. In a business, the person holding the position typically reports directly to the CEO, and their duties involve overseeing and identifying the legal issues in all departments and their interrelation, including engineering, design, marketing, sales, distribution, credit, finance, human resources, production, as well as corporate governance and business policy.
Big Thinker While Balancing Risk
“As with most executives, the general counsel or chief legal officer must be a strategic, big-picture thinker, with the ability to manage people and priorities, set goals and focus the organization towards those goals,” said Andrea Bricca, a partner with MLA’s in-house practice group, in a recent report. “Any hiring effort at this level can be one of the most complex and challenging responsibilities any company can undertake because of the many varied roles that these executives must fulfill.”
In the case of the general counsel, she added, an incoming leader is called upon to “lead and steward the legal and ethical standards of an entire company as well as provide bulletproof legal counsel to senior staff members and the board.” The general counsel also is responsible for overseeing the activities of the in-house legal department. Perhaps most important, she said, general counsels are “charged with managing and balancing an organization’s corporate risk – protecting it from legal missteps without impeding its progress toward strategic goals and objectives.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media