DuPont's Stacey Mobley Retires - Tom Sager Becomes General Counsel

Tuesday, July 1, 2008 - 01:00

In June of 2007, Stacey was in New York City to accept the prestigious Appleseed award on behalf of his legal team. Appleseed, one of the largest legal pro bono networks in the United States, praised DuPont's in-house law firm - led for nearly a decade by Mr. Mobley - for its "unwavering leadership and pathbreaking contributions to creating a more just and diverse society." As he accepted the award, Stacey acknowledged, "Treating people with respect is one of DuPont's core values. We are proud to 'walk the talk' and assist others where we can through our business relationships."

The value of diversity has not only been reflected by both Mr. Mobley's accomplishments at DuPont but also by those of his successor, Tom Sager. "I believe we get better results if our lawyers reflect the diverse nature of the communities with which they may be involved," Tom said in an interview with this paper in March of 2002. "Their diversity makes them better able to connect with juries, judges and governmental bodies. We believe it is important to include in our legal team lawyers who can bring to the table perspectives gained by diverse backgrounds. You must understand the psychology of the local people in order to know what arguments will appeal to them. Diversity," Mr. Sager continued, "needs to be addressed daily."

"My role as general counsel of DuPont put me in a position to influence DuPont's policies," Stacey explained in 2003 to The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel . "General counsel have looked at the changing demographics of the marketplace and of society generally and realized that their companies must take diversity seriously not only to avoid future legal problems, but most importantly, to respond to the concerns of their customers and other important constituencies."

In February 2004, Mr. Mobley spoke further on his unswerving commitment to diversity. He said, "We believe our workforce should reflect the diversity of the countries in which we do business. We need to draw upon the perspectives of people who come from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. Only then will we be able to serve the special needs of our customers, wherever located."

DuPont's example has inspired its Primary Law Firms and Service Providers to become ardent supporters of diversity and has encouraged other corporations to leverage their support for diversity through their law firms and service providers.

In April 2004, a lawyer with one of DuPont's Primary Law Firms spoke to The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel about her firm's commitment to diversity and the benefits of being a member of the PLF network. "Being able to speak effectively with local and state legislators and other political leaders on behalf of our other clients requires not only a political diversity within our firm but also a diverse workforce that has credibility within their respective communities. Having DuPont's support for our diversity initiative has helped us to build a firm which is much more effective in those political arenas."

Another lawyer at a DuPont Primary Law Firm spoke to this newspaper in March 2005 about the vital role that diversity plays in his firm. He explained: "Over the years as we've taken specific steps to ensure diversity in the legal profession, our clients have been with us hand-in-hand. We share a common vision of the importance to their organization and ours of being as diverse as we can be."

"DuPont and other companies who are very focused on diversity send an important message throughout the law firm community," a partner at a Primary Law Firm said in February 2007. "These companies help law firms realize that the only way to give them the very best legal advice is to involve a diverse group of attorneys. If you only have the perspective of those with similar backgrounds, you do not have the variety of views that is essential to developing the very best and most creative approaches to a client's problems. You have to understand the differing perspectives of the direct and remotely affected parties. A diverse law firm encourages and gives its lawyers the opportunity to understand and gain experience in finding commonality among divergent perspectives."

In recognition of Tom's contributions to diversity and his individual efforts to promote diversity in the legal profession, the Minority Corporate Counsel Association created the Thomas L. Sager Award, presented annually. The first recipient was Tom Sager. Tom has also served MCCA as chair and in other capacities

The DuPont law department is not only the nation's leader in walking the talk of diversity, but is clearly the nation's leading advocate and the trailblazer of using convergence to bring the benefits of partnering to both law firms and corporate law departments. Diversity is just one area in which the business relationships created by partnering enable law firms and law departments to reach goals that could never have been attained by either acting alone - and DuPont has given generously of its time to help other companies understand the advantages of partnering.

Under Tom Sager, the DuPont Law Firm Partnering Program has consistently found new ways to tap the potential of partnering by creating tools that make the DuPont Primary Law Firm team a litigation powerhouse available not only to DuPont but to other law departments.

As the network was evolving in May of 1996, Tom detailed in The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel his vision of the mutual benefits provided by the program: "The difference between this program and others is that we are truly committed to each others' success. This translates into true commitment - savings to DuPont and increased business for the firms. We are saying to a firm that we are in this together. We want to help them cultivate new clients and get them in the door where they have not been successful before."

In an interview as early as August 2000, in referring to the DuPont Convergence and Law Firm Partnering Program, Stacey said "The key is our primary law firms understand that we regard them as more than just vendors; they're partnersit involves us looking to see how we can contribute to their successI am a firm believer in having people of diverse backgrounds contribute to the solving of problems."

DuPont's program confers great benefits on the Primary Law Firms These benefits include not only letting them use much of DuPont's technology but also, and uniquely, marketing the firms to other corporations. Stacey, Tom and other members of the legal staff spend countless hours with corporate counsel from other corporations marketing both the individual firms and the network.

One lawyer at a DuPont Primary Law Firm said in our April 2004 issue, "A good client is one that gives you work and pays your bills. DuPont does a lot more than that. DuPont encourages its PLFs to work with each other, even in matters that are not related to DuPont work. As a result, we have benefited from PLF referrals."

DuPont has also leveled the playing field for smaller firms. Commenting in our January 2008 issue, a lawyer with a smaller Primary Law Firm said "The DuPont Network is a network of excellent firms throughout the world. We have learned to collaborate with them and through the network can offer coverage that is comparable to that provided by the largest law firms."

An essential element of the DuPont Model is early case assessment coupled with the use of ADR. Tom is actively involved in the International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution (CPR), a primary multinational resource for avoidance, management and resolution of business-related and other disputes. He chairs a special committee of CPR to promote the use of minority neutrals.

Perhaps the nature of the relationship of DuPont to its Primary Law Firms is best summed up by Paul Smith, Client Relationship Partner for DuPont at the global, very diverse Eversheds LLP, currently one of the world's largest and fastest growing law firms with countless offices worldwide. He speaks of Eversheds' presentation at a DuPont beauty contest: "At our pitchwe were asked what the culture of our firm was. We replied, 'Friendly and open door.' A competitor firm replied: 'Commercial and aggressive.' DuPont preferred our answeras Tom Sager once famously said in relation to partnering: 'Only optimists need apply!'"

Mr. Mobley originally joined the DuPont Legal Department in 1972. He was named director of Federal Affairs in the company's Washington, D.C. office in 1983 and promoted to Vice President, Federal Affairs in 1986, returning to the company's headquarters in Delaware in 1992 as Vice President, communications in External Affairs. Named Chief Executive Administrative Officer in May of 1999, Mr. Mobley became General Counsel for DuPont in November of 1999.

Mr. Sager was named Vice President and Assistant General Counsel in November 1999. He will assume the role of General Counsel on July 1. Tom Sager joined DuPont in 1976 as an attorney in the labor and securities group. He advanced in DuPont Legal to become associate general counsel and chief litigation counsel in 1994 prior to being named to his current position in 1999. He helped pioneer the DuPont Convergence and Law Firm Partnering Program, regarded as a benchmark in the legal profession for its innovative approach to the business of practicing law.