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MoveMakers & NewsMakers June12, 2019


June 12, 2019 - See who is making news and moving where in the weekly Missouri Bar update "MoveMakers & NewsMakers."

June 12, 2019 - See who is making news and moving where in the weekly Missouri Bar update "MoveMakers & NewsMakers."

St. Louis Area

Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, P.C., is pleased to announce that Jessica M. Mendez, a lawyer in the firm’s St. Louis office, has been chosen as a member of the 2019 class of the Collaborative Bar Leadership Academy (CBLA), a leadership training and professional development program designed to foster diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.

Taking place June 23 to 25 in Denver, the CBLA is a joint initiative of the American Bar Association (ABA) Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession, ABA Commission on Disability Rights, Hispanic National Bar Association, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, National Bar Association, National LGBT Bar Association, and National Native American Bar Association. CBLA participants network with leaders from national bar associations, receive leadership training from leading experts in the field, and develop the skills necessary to successfully lead local and national organizations.

“We congratulate Jessica for being selected to participate in the Collaborative Bar Leadership Academy,” said Greensfelder Chief Executive Officer Timothy R. Thornton. “We are thrilled about this opportunity for Jessica to continue her progression as a leader for diversity and inclusion at our firm and in the larger legal profession.”

Mendez is a leader in the local and national Hispanic legal communities, currently serving as the deputy vice president of programs for the Hispanic National Bar Association and formerly serving as president of the Hispanic Bar Association of St. Louis. She also serves as general counsel for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan St. Louis.

Of counsel and a member of Greensfelder’s intellectual property (IP) practice group, Mendez helps businesses maintain, enforce and defend their trademarks and other intellectual property including copyrights, domain names, and other associated rights. She assists clients of all sizes in numerous industries including manufacturing, health care, technology, and food and beverage. In addition, she has extensive litigation experience handling intellectual property disputes in courts across the country, as well as in proceedings before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. Part of Mendez’ practice involves helping start-up and small businesses protect their intellectual property through agreements, appropriate registrations, and practical policies and procedures. She is a member of Greensfelder’s team that operates an office in the Cortex Innovation Community, a thriving innovation hub and technology district in St. Louis.

The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) has selected St. Louis-based agricultural lender Rabo AgriFinance as one of 10 corporate law departments from around the world that have implemented “best-in-class” innovations to drive value and dramatically improve efficiencies.

Rabo AgriFinance was recognized as a 2019 ACC Value Champion for a unique collaboration with Thompson Coburn that since 2016 has allowed the national agricultural lender to realize significant time and cost savings by outsourcing its loan documentation and legal review process to Thompson Coburn.

Other 2019 Value Champions include Deutsche Bank, Toyota Motors North America, McAfee and MassMutual. The champions range from banking to mining companies, and are based in Australia, Germany, Portugal, South Africa and the United States.

“To be considered best-in-class, a law department must be willing to tear down their operational model and start again from scratch,” said Catherine J. Moynihan, associate vice president of legal management services at ACC. “These Champions did just that. In response to strategic demands, they employed a variety of process improvement techniques and creative partnership models to automate and streamline legal services. Their agility is breathtaking.”

Managed under a monthly flat fee and supported by Thompson Coburn lawyers working onsite at Rabo AgriFinance’s headquarters in St. Louis, the arrangement has allowed Rabo AgriFinance to realize more than 10% savings in legal costs and achieve a 70% reduction in turnaround time for initial loan legal reviews, while reducing documentation errors. The lender has also developed predictability metrics that allow it to better plan for high-demand periods of lending activity.

“This project was a huge undertaking for our team and Thompson Coburn, but it has had a remarkable impact on our ability to provide service to our customers – the thousands of agriculture producers and agribusinesses that we serve each day,” said Philip Kirkpatrick, Regional General Counsel - North America for Rabobank. Rabo AgriFinance is a U.S. subsidiary of Rabobank, the world’s largest food and agricultural lender and the 26th largest bank in the world.

“We confronted the weaknesses of our previous process, found a trusted partner in Thompson Coburn, and embarked on a radically different service model for this key business function. Today we are faster, more efficient, more accurate, and more responsive to the needs of our business units. It’s been a remarkable journey, and we’re not done yet – we are still improving,” Kirkpatrick added.

As part of the collaboration, Thompson Coburn regularly handles 35-60 loans each month for Rabo AgriFinance’s relationships in excess of $12.5 million. The team generates monthly reports to evaluate the process and measure results so adjustments can be made. Leaders of the Thompson Coburn and Rabo AgriFinance teams meet regularly to ensure the project is continuing smoothly and the outsourcing relationship is delivering against expectations.

“This collaboration really pushed us to think differently about client relationships and about our internal processes – and those were not easy changes to make,” said Mark Kaltenrieder, a commercial finance partner who manages Thompson Coburn’s relationship with Rabo AgriFinance along with partners Krissa Lubben and Cheryl Kelly. “But by really investing in this collaboration and approaching every angle of it from the question, ‘What would be best for Rabo?’ we were able to connect deeply with this client. And that has paid off for both of us.”

Rabo AgriFinance’s collaboration with Thompson Coburn has received local and national recognition as an innovative legal operations project. In May 2019, the team presented on the collaboration – likening the experience to a tough-but-rewarding “firewalk” – at the 2019 Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) Institute in Las Vegas. In 2018, Rabo AgriFinance and Philip Kirkpatrick were honored at Missouri Lawyers Media’s inaugural Top Legal Innovation Awards.

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