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VP, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, REI, Greater Seattle Area, WA

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Harris Legal Search has been exclusively engaged to recruit a Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary to be a trusted advisor to the REI Board of Directors, the CEO, the Chief Legal Officer, and the rest of REI’s executive leadership team. 

They will have direct responsibility for the management, development, and operations of the Legal department, and provide legal advice and advise the leadership team and Board of Directors on issues currently and potentially affecting the co-op.  The General Counsel will act as a business advisor by understanding the organization’s strategic direction and integrating legal decisions into that framework.  They will provide leadership and perspective on the distinctive role of REI as a co-operative business in advancing the interests of co-op members and the outdoor industry. 

With oversight of the legal function, the General Counsel will lead the team in advancing REI’s business objectives as a Vice President and officer of the co-op.  The range of operational activities at REI is beyond that of a conventional specialty retailer.  For example, through REI Experiences, the co-op has many thousands of customers in field experiences around the world.  Understanding and appreciating the benefit and risk in outdoor recreation is essential to success in this role.  Additionally, because of the co-op model, REI is a leading voice in the public policy arena with respect to outdoor recreation and the stewardship of public recreational lands.  They will bring experience and perspective to the policy work of the co-op.  Finally, they will provide advice to the Board of Directors and its committees to ensure business dealings, practices, and policies meet the needs and objectives of the co-op while managing legal risk and ensuring legal and regulatory compliance.

The REI Co-op believes time outside is fundamental to a life well-lived, and exists to inspire and enable a life outside for everyone.  To deliver on that promise, they are working with their 15,000 employees, 20M members, and the broader outdoor community toward a reality where everyone has the opportunity to be themselves, to access opportunities, and find their place in the outdoors.  For REI, that means: 

  • Investing in work that removes the barriers people and communities face to getting outside.
  • Delivering relevant products, experiences, and expertise to equip and inspire a new generation of outdoor stewards.
  • Cultivating a workforce that reflects the demographics of the markets they serve.
  • Leading the industry’s efforts to welcome people and communities historically underrepresented into outdoor media and culture.

ESSENTIAL LEADERSHIP BEHAVIORS

  • Develop and foster strong relationships with the Board of Directors and be a respected representative for the Company.
  • Lead, motivate, develop, and mentor the team of 12-15 legal professionals who have close working relationships with all divisions of the company.
  • Manage the day-to-day activities of the legal division, including corporate governance, real estate, marketing regulatory compliance, product liability, contracts, employment matters, information security, and other relevant business issues.
  • Prepare and review legal documents and provide counsel to the executive team on legal matters.
  • Work closely with the Chief Legal Officer, the CEO, and the leadership team to develop overall business/legal strategy and address legal and regulatory issues faced by the company.
  • Advise senior management with respect to legal issues and risk management concerning the development and implementation of business strategy, company operations, establishment of the corporate governance structure, and ongoing development of company policies.
  • Serve as Corporate Secretary regarding co-op governance matters and management of entity filings and related documentation.
  • Oversee the management of claims, litigation, and risk management activities, including management of outside counsel regarding the same, and general oversight of the company’s programs.
  • Advise leadership and business units on all corporate transactions, as well as legal and compliance issues.
  • Lead complex legal transactions, including mergers and acquisitions and other strategic partnerships.
  • Oversee the drafting, review, and negotiation of various types of contracts.
  • Review and advise on legal and business issues relevant to the retail industry, the outdoor industry, and other areas of the co-op’s operations (e.g., standards of care in outdoor recreation programs).
  • Ensure that the legal function is a respected business partner by planning, budgeting, and delivering legal information and services that support corporate goals in a timely and fiscally responsible manner.
  • Cultivate a strong legal team and culture.
  • Implement talent development and succession plans to support current and future talent needs of the company.

QUALIFICATIONS AND EXPERIENCE

  • The successful candidate will have at least 15 years of progressive legal in-house experience managing a legal division or department in a complex, dynamic, and highly competitive consumer industry.
  • The candidate will have relevant experience working with a Board of Directors in a strategic and advisory capacity.
  • The candidate will have demonstrated success in influencing strategic business decisions and merger and acquisition experience in a true business partner role for a $3 billion+ in revenue business or business unit.
  • The candidate will be registered and in good standing with at least one State Bar and eligible to practice law in the State of Washington.
  • Experience in dynamic, fast-moving, and complex businesses is strongly required.
  • The ideal candidate has a passion for community relationships and has played the business partner/advisor role representing an organization.
  • Experience in retail or consumer business is preferable. Experience in non-retail or consumer best-in-class company is beneficial.
  • Unquestionable integrity, ethics, and judgment. The courage and ability to take a strong position in a culturally calibrated way as required for the good of the company.
  • Excellent communication, relationship building, and influencing skills. The ability to be collaborative, drive progress, help the organization evaluate ideas from a legal and operations perspective, and keep the organization focused on its goals.
  • The ability to represent the whole company with internal and external audiences, consistent with the co-op’s values.
  • Intellectually curious with a balance of EQ and IQ that drives understanding of complex business, economic, political, and social issues and trends.
  • Ability to help the company take appropriate business risks.
  • Ability to anticipate, recognize, and assess relevance of issues before escalating to major issues.
  • Effective crisis manager who can apply mature judgment in the face of well-mobilized external stakeholders and critics.
  • Strong skills in preparing and delivering high-level formal and informal presentations to internal and external clients. Presents complex information in clear and concise manner.
  • A natural leader with proven abilities across a broad range of internal and external constituencies.
  • A team player with a high level of self and cross-cultural awareness. Demonstrated track record of building strong and enduring relationships and teams. 
  • Authentic, confident, and assertive.
  • The ability to influence and inspire through, around, and with people in a fast-growing, dynamic organization.
  • Passion for the outdoors.

COMPANY

Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) was founded in 1938 and is a national outdoor retail co-op dedicated to inspiring, educating, and outfitting its members and the community for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship. 

At REI, we love to get outside and play, and we know first-hand the importance of quality outdoor gear.  We stand behind all our products with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, and we design our own line of award-winning REI brand gear and clothing. Whether you’re new to outdoor adventure or a seasoned pro, we gladly share our enthusiasm for our products—and the trails, slopes and waterways where we play.

Each year, REI donates millions of dollars to support conservation efforts nationwide and sends dedicated teams of volunteers—members, customers, and REI employees—to build trails, clean up beaches, restore local habitats, and more. Through responsible business practices across the company, we strive to reduce our environmental footprint. 

What began as a group of 23 mountain climbing buddies is now the nation’s largest consumer cooperative.  But no matter how large we grow, our roots remain firmly planted in the outdoors.  Our passion for outdoor adventure is clear, whether you visit any of our stores across the country, phone us, or interact with us online.

By staying true to our roots, we’ve earned a place on FORTUNE magazine’s list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” every year since the rankings began in 1998. We work hard to earn our reputation for quality and integrity every day.

Headquarters:  Seattle, Washington

Members:  20 million

Revenues:  $3.12 billion (2019)

Employees:  15,000+

Stores:  167 across 40 states

Invested in 400+ non-profits: $8.1 million (2019)

Distributed in member dividends: $210.8 million (2019)

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