As senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary at USG Corp., Michelle Warner is busy, but it’s nothing she couldn’t handle after proving herself as a multitasker at Holleb. Warner actually sat across the table from Marshall Holleb as a young attorney at McDermott Will and Emery. That was how she came to know the future firm co-founder. She wasn’t looking to leave when he approached her about joining the new firm. However, a year later when Warner was ready to leave, Holleb & Coff was happy to have her. Like so many of her colleagues, Warner loved the freedom to learn that came with practicing law at Holleb. “It was a great firm. I could work on a financing, then a securities offering or an M&A deal. I had a lot of responsibility, and I loved it,” says Warner. “After working there, I was able to move to my next job really knowing how to do things. Still, I went back to my colleagues at Holleb many times during my first year at Motorola, and they helped me. They were a great resource.”
Warner left Holleb to become in-house counsel at Motorola and stayed at that company for 18 years. “It was 1997, and Motorola was starting to go through a lot of changes. They did a number of spinoffs and divestitures and, as the company got smaller, I took on more and more responsibility. After five years, I was running the M&A legal practice,” says Warner.
Two years ago, Warner left Motorola for a new opportunity at USG Corp. (NYSE: USG), a publicly-traded Fortune 1000 company that makes sheetrock and is currently being acquired by German manufacturer Gebr. Knauf KG for $7 billion. Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK.A) is USG’s largest shareholder.
“I am now part of the management team, and it has been a terrific experience. About half of what I do is legal, and half is management. Shortly after I started, we sold off a big division of the company to a distribution business, and I ran that transaction. I have spent the last six months working on the impending sale of USG,” says Warner.
“There was a nice culture at Holleb. People got a long with each other, acknowledged you had a life outside of work, but you also took your work seriously. We made lots of connections as young lawyers and they allowed me to do things that I may not have had the opportunity to do at larger firms. It served me well,” says Warner.
Other noteworthy people who worked at Holleb include: Susan Marr, former co-president, Jet Support Services Inc.; Alvin Marr, former senior vice president and general counsel of Midas Inc.; Keith Shapiro, co-chair of Greenberg Traurig’s Chicago office, national chairman of the firm’s global restructuring and bankruptcy practice; and Benjamin Nortman, executive vice president, Hilco Global.