During his time working at law firms and in-house at Micron Technology, attorney Rob Beard says he loved handling deals.
But when Beard was promoted to general counsel at Micron two years ago, the experienced M&A lawyer says he realized he needed to step back from day-to-day involvement with transactional work.
While he acknowledges letting go of tasks he very much enjoyed was difficult, he says it afforded him the chance to provide strategic direction as a legal department leader.
“There are good reasons to get out of the day-to-day work on any deal or any matter and sit above it and think about how the deal or the transaction or the matter impacts the entire company,” Beard says. “It’s hard to do that while you’re also in the day to day.”
Beard made these comments a few months ago while participating in a Weil, Gotshal & Manges interview series that features alumni of the law firm. Beard previously worked as a Weil associate focused on M&A and capital markets transactions.
Earlier this month, Beard was named Mastercard’s chief legal officer, general counsel and head of global policy.
Beard, who joined Micron in 2014 and served as its primary M&A lawyer for a period, became the GC of the semiconductor company in 2021. It was his first time serving as a general counsel.
Beard says he learned quickly that talent development is an important focus area for legal chiefs, and the greatest mistake a GC can make “is to think that you have to continue to do everything yourself.”
If he were to step in and be the lead day-to-day lawyer working on an important deal or issue, it would not further the objective to strengthen his team.
“A really important matter will come in, and I’ll want to dig into it because I’m really interested in the legal issues or there’s a problem to solve and I want to get in and solve the problem,” Beard says. “When you do that, you remove the opportunity for these awesome people that you hired and brought in and work with you to do that. You take away some of their development opportunities. You take away some motivation from them.”
New York fabrication facility
While Beard was at Micron, the company announced a commitment to invest up to $100 billion to build a large semiconductor fabrication facility in Clay, New York.
Beard says his legal department’s work on a range of matters that helped the facility project move forward was a strong example of when he allowed other team members to handle some key day-to-day tasks.
One of his colleagues took the lead on negotiating a project labor agreement with local unions, and Beard says he was very impressed with the final product.
He also highlights that he delegated the site selection process to some of his staff members and their teams.
“To see this group of people that we brought into the company or that we had promoted within the company the last couple years really step up and take responsibility for such an important transaction, that was really cool,” Beard says.