In this installment of The In-House Advisor, we interview Paul Igoe, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer at Excelitas Technologies Corp., a Waltham, MA-headquartered manufacturer of high-performance, market-driven photonic innovations designed to meet the lighting, optronic, detection and optical technology needs of customers worldwide. Excelitas has 20 facilities worldwide and approximately 7,000 employees.
Prior to joining Excelitas in August 2018, for five and one-half years, Mr. Igoe served as Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of SS&C Technologies, Inc., a Windsor, Connecticut-headquartered provider of financial software and services. From 2009 to 2012, Mr. Igoe was Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Lydall, Inc., a Manchester, Connecticut-based manufacturer of filtration media and thermal/acoustical products. From 2001 to 2009, Mr. Igoe served as Associate General Counsel and Assistant Secretary to Teradyne, Inc., a manufacturer of automatic test equipment for the semi-conductor industry headquartered in North Reading, Massachusetts. Previous to his employment at Teradyne, Mr. Igoe was a Junior Partner in the Boston office of Wilmer Hale.
The In-House Advisor: What do you see as the main focus of your role as in-house counsel, and how do you see that role evolving over the next few years?
Paul Igoe: Making sure that the lawyers in my group are working collaboratively with their colleagues on the business side to accomplish goals and objectives that truly add value to the company. This includes being responsive, providing insightful counsel on commercial contracts and helping effect acquisitions that promote growth in target markets. Most important: fostering change to make the company healthier from a legal and compliance perspective. When I look back, I hope to say that during my career at Excelitas we made some important changes that enabled the company to avoid problems. A good example: robust and meaningful compliance training for employees.
IHA: While in-house counsel routinely save their companies money, Legal Departments generally are viewed as cost centers that add nothing to the bottom line. How can in-house counsel get across to the business people the value that in-house lawyers add to the company?
PI: Sophisticated and experienced business people realize that they need lawyers and that a good lawyer who acts as a business partner adds value. Some important keys to cementing a good relationship with our business colleagues include being ultra responsive to requests, being a practical problem solver, being proactive in driving a project to completion, and avoiding digging in too hard on positions because, at the end of the day, most disputes come down to commercial decisions that lawyers do not necessarily make.
IHA: What should in-house attorneys not say or do to try to show their value?
PI: “I am too busy to help you now.” Missing a committed response date. Failing to think creatively or practically when things get locked up.
IHA: You have been in-house for over 20 years. How have you been able to thrive in that role, and what advice do you have for other in-house counsel so that they, too, can succeed?
PI: I have learned to be very organized in making sure that roles and responsibilities are clearly assigned and that deliverables are clearly delineated. As in-house counsel, we need to get things done. I don’t need to know or do everything personally. But I do need to make sure the right resources are marshalled and that everyone on the team is clear on what they need to do. Moreover, I have learned to be flexible and adaptable in my role. Some CEO’s and Boards want to hear what lawyers have to say; others prefer a more demur presence. In-house counsel need to read the situation and relationships and assess when to speak and when to shut up.