As Mayer Brown continues to recruit and promote women lawyers, the global law firm has just added three high-profile, female in-house counsel as partners.
The law firm announced on Wednesday that Audrey Harris, formerly chief compliance officer for global mining and oil company BHP in Melbourne, Australia, has rejoined the firm in Washington, D.C.
Harris will be a co-leader of the global anti-corruption and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act group.
The other two partner hires this month are Megan Webster, previously associate general counsel at BMO Financial Group, and Melissa Richards, formerly chief legal and risk officer at CMG Financial. Webster joined the litigation and dispute resolution practice in Chicago and New York, while Richards is part of the financial services regulatory and enforcement group in Northern California.
“Returning to private practice was a natural choice at this point in my life,” Webster told Corporate Counsel. “I loved my in-house job, but I missed trying cases.”
“Megan is well-known and highly regarded as a versatile commercial trial litigator and trusted senior business advisor with broad private practice, domestic and international in-house experience,” said a statement from Michael Lackey, the leader of Mayer Brown’s litigation practice.
Before joining the law firm on Monday, Webster had worked two years at BMO. Previously, she spent a decade at HSBC, where she was senior vice president and associate general counsel. She began her career as an associate at DLA Piper.
Webster said it’s a hard decision between a career in-house or in private practice. “You just leverage those learning experiences,” she said. “There is no right answer.”
Does she expect another in-house gig in the future? “Sometimes opportunities present themselves,” Webster said. “But I accepted Mayer Brown’s offer intending to stay here for the rest of my career.”
She said that having worked in-house as well as in private practice gives the three women a special perspective with clients. “It allows us to look through different lenses, and see the problems more holistically,” Webster said.
She said one of the reasons she chose Mayer Brown was its commitment to “women and other diverse lawyers in leadership roles. And they’ve been doing it for years. When I was in-house counsel I certainly appreciated that diversity of thought in leadership.”
The law firm’s newest addition, Harris, led a global ethics and compliance unit at BHP.
“Audrey’s sophisticated understanding of corporate compliance and global regulatory enforcement issues, which she has developed through her senior in-house role at a major multinational and extensive private practice experience, will be invaluable to clients,” said a statement from Larry Urgenson, co-leader of Mayer Brown’s global anti-corruption and FCPA practice.
Previously at Mayer Brown, Harris worked on white-collar crime and regulatory enforcement matters. She left in 2015 to join BHP in the compliance role.
“Mayer Brown’s global platform, and ability to provide clients practical approaches and holistic advice, drove my decision to rejoin the firm,” she said in a statement.
Richards served over five years as the top legal officer at CMG Financial, a national mortgage-banking firm based in California. She also previously served as outside general counsel to the California Mortgage Bankers Association and as a member of its board of directors.
Before that, she spent a year as a regulatory counsel in the Office of Thrift Supervision within the U.S. Treasury Department. She then joined the California law firm Buchalter, where her practice covered the financial services industry for 10 years.
Richards joined Mayer Brown on Oct. 16. Her “deep knowledge of California and federal law, together with her significant experience advising on state licensing work and solid background in Fintech, will immediately bolster our capabilities,” said a statement from Steve Kaplan, co-head of Mayer Brown’s financial services practice.
Reprinted with permission from the October 24, 2018 edition of Corporate Counsel © 2018 ALM Properties, Inc. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited.