I work with senior P&L executives and corporate boards concerned that they spend too much on legal and get too little risk protection in return.
After practicing law for 10 years – working in a Wall Street law firm and then trying cases before juries – I accepted a corporate client’s invite to run one of its divisions. Only when I found myself on the business side of the lawyer / client table did I see the disconnect between what companies need from their attorneys and what they get from them.
Upon graduating from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, I practiced with the Wall Street law firm of Cleary Gottlieb, then tried cases to juries as Assistant District Attorney in the Major Offense Career Criminal Bureau of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office under Robert M. Morgenthau, and later served as associate general counsel in a Fortune 500 company called PacifiCorp (now a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy). When I accepted the client company’s offer I refer to above, I stopped practicing law and took on general manager responsibilities full-time.
Afterward I joined Whirlpool Financial as Managing Director, Asset Management Division (workouts and restructurings), and later served as Managing Director, Capital Markets Division (leading its equity investment in a $500 million-plus deal that was the first portfolio securitization in airliner finance, and conventional single-aircraft and multi-aircraft leases and purchases).
Next I worked for GE Rail Services as Vice President, Business Development (M&A), and, concurrently, for GE Capital Equity Investment as Vice President (transportation sector).
After Whirlpool Financial and GE Capital, I returned to practicing law, founding Joel A. Webber, P.C., where I practiced commercial and regulatory law on behalf of transportation clients until December 2019.
As of January 2020, I have re-directed my law practice to help business executives apply to “Legal” the same management disciplines and cost efficiencies they expect of every other corporate function:
(1) To prevent legal problems from happening in the first place, by systematic, proactive guidance of front-line employees to identify and avoid liability and regulatory pitfalls before they become legal catastrophes, and
(2) To cut corporate legal budgets, because attorneys outside and inside the company work to insular incentives at odds with those that drive the rest of the business. These discourage efficiency and encourage unneeded work.
My work outside of law practice:
- Teaching international transactions and transportation law as adjunct professor in The Center for International Law of the University of Illinois at Chicago / John Marshall Law School.
- Peer-reviewed scholarship on transportation policy commissioned by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (Washington, D.C.) and Fraser Institute (Vancouver, Canada).
- Five years service as Vice Chair (transportation) of the American Bar Association’s Homeland Security Committee.
- Pro bono legal representation of people who cannot afford to pay an attorney, with successful federal and state court judgments in family law, housing, and civil rights. Successful outcomes for pro bono clients before federal and state administrative agencies.
Licensing & Memberships:
- Admitted to practice law in Illinois and New York, admitted to the Trial Bar of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago), and admitted to the bars of other federal district courts.
- Member of the Illinois State Bar Association and its Sections on Federal Taxation, Civil Practice & Procedure, and Business & Securities Law.
- Member of the Society for the Advancement of Consulting.
- Founding Member of the Legal Value Network.