This issue features a Q&A with Stacy Howard, who currently serves as senior counsel, commercial litigation at McDonald’s.
Catch us up! Where have you been since Loeb?
In late 2013, I left Loeb’s Business Litigation and White Collar Criminal Defense & Investigations teams in Chicago to join BMO Financial Group as senior counsel, commercial litigation. Former Loeb colleague Matt Carmody, who has since passed away, recommended me to BMO’s hiring manager. I will forever be grateful to Matt for making this introduction, as it opened the door for me to become an in-house lawyer, which has been a terrific fit for me.
As a senior associate at Loeb, I had gained a wide variety of experience defending companies in both litigation and government investigations. These experiences positioned me for a smooth transition to the BMO in-house role, where I managed a similarly wide variety of civil litigation matters and government and regulatory investigations. A few years later, in late 2016, I joined McDonald’s Corp. as senior counsel, commercial litigation, and still hold that position today.
The McDonald’s role, like my work at Loeb and BMO, offers a wide variety of litigation opportunities. Not surprisingly, McDonald’s is often the target of novel legal theories dreamt up by the plaintiffs’ bar, which are balanced by many run-of-the-mill legal claims. I relish the challenges that this role brings, as the legal landscape continues to evolve over time and across jurisdictions.
Is there anything you learned at Loeb that you’ve taken with you to your current role or any of the other roles you’ve had?
Absolutely. Loeb is where I cut my teeth on eDiscovery issues, as these issues arose on so many of the matters I worked on, ranging from corporate/internal investigations and government/regulatory investigations to patent and other civil litigation. I ran point on identifying eDiscovery vendors and platforms for many of my matters and learned the functionality of just about every eDiscovery platform that existed at the time!
Fast-forward to today, and I have a secondary role in McDonald’s Legal Department as the eDiscovery attorney. In that role, I evaluate eDiscovery functionality for new technologies that the company seeks to onboard, as well as eDiscovery functionality—such as legal hold tools and electronic review platforms—that our Commercial Litigation team leverages. On my specific litigation matters, I am heavily involved in the eDiscovery aspects and enjoy rolling up my sleeves and digging in on the preservation, collection, review and export processes.
Can you share a specific Loeb memory that you are fond of? It can be a person, a place, an occurrence, etc.
During my time at Loeb, the Business Litigation group coordinated a formal deposition training for its litigation associates whereby we congregated at the L.A. office for an intensive, three-day training. Whereas, generally, deposition training can be considered “on the job” training, there is something to be said about dedicating several days with a hired expert team to focus on the skills that are necessary for a successful deposition, whether you are taking or defending one.
I truly appreciate the investment that Loeb’s leadership made in this training, as the skills I learned during those few days are ones that prepared me for taking and defending depositions while serving as outside counsel at Loeb. In my role as in-house counsel, those skills stick with me as I help outside counsel prepare my clients for depositions.
What did you like most about working at Loeb?
The Chicago office, in particular, was such a special group. I suspect it was a combination of the quality and quantity of the people at the office that fostered such a collaborative and close-knit group despite the diverse practice groups. I feel so fortunate to have worked with probably every single lawyer in the Chicago office and thus on matters outside traditional business litigation and white collar matters, ranging from media to bankruptcy to trademark and patent to First Amendment issues.
It is also notable that I took my first maternity leave while at Loeb and can attest to Loeb being one of the first firms to offer flexibility to working mothers. I realize that in today’s world, work-life balance and flexibility should be a foregone conclusion for all employers—but that wasn’t exactly the case 10 years ago!
What does being part of Loeb Reconnected, Loeb’s alumni community, mean to you?
I joined Loeb in 2008 with my two mentors, Jeremy Margolis and former partner Rob Andalman. They were integral to my development as an attorney, and along with many other Loeb lawyers with whom I worked closely, including Doug Masters, Tom Jirgal and Adam Kelly, they taught me how to analyze complex legal issues, prioritize our clients and offer creative solutions. Importantly, we did all this while enjoying many laughs together.
To this day, I am fortunate to have maintained relationships with many of these folks. A couple of years ago, for a mediation in one of my McDonald’s matters, Dan Murphy offered up a conference room in the L.A. office. And very recently, Doug didn’t hesitate to jump on the phone on short notice, bring in his colleagues who were experts on a particular issue and offer very helpful advice. I am thankful for this community and suspect we will continue to cross paths for years to come.