When Candace Cummings tells people she's the general counsel of VF Corp. they often stare at her with a blank look on their faces. But after she rattles off the names of the brands VF owns, that blank look quickly turns to one of instant recognition. And most likely, that person is wearing something made by VF.
Based in Greensboro, N.C., VF owns an impressive line of popular clothing brands, including Lee, Wrangler, Rustler, The North Face and JanSport. It also produces clothing under license from the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, Nascar and Harley-Davidson. It's Cummings' job, along with her team of 12 lawyers, to protect these brands and provide VF with the usual gamut of legal services--which is no easy task. The company is currently on a buying binge, having recently acquired Reef, Nautica and Vans. At press time rumors were swirling that VF was looking to buy Eddie Bauer. On top of that, the company has unveiled an aggressive strategy to expand into markets in Russia, India and China.
Q: What was the toughest aspect of going from a law firm to an in-house position?
A: That I was suddenly alone. I went from having about 300 colleagues to no other lawyers. And if I wanted to talk to a lawyer, I had to pay them.