Legal Longevity

Kelly McNamara Corley always knew she wanted to be a lawyer, but in what capacity was a question that haunted her throughout her undergraduate studies. A political science major, McNamara Corley jumped at an opportunity to work in Sears Roebuck & Co.'s Government Affairs Office in Washington, D.C., upon graduating from the University of Southern California in 1982.

"My plan was to go and learn more about Washington, get some experience and come back to California two years later," she explains. But the best laid plans of mice and (wo)men often go awry.

We also put some flexible work arrangements in place. We have some part-time and flex-time lawyers. We have work-at-home lawyers. That has helped us attract and retain very talented people who might otherwise have worked for law firms and not been able to have the kind of work-life balance they wanted.

Q: What type of work is your team handling?
A:There is a whole host of business-related issues--our card-issuing business, our network business and our payments business. We have lawyers working disclosure and intellectual property-related issues. The credit card industry is highly regulated, so there are regulations and laws--both at the federal and state levels--that we have to stay on top of with respect to consumer protection and disclosure.

There was a Department of Justice antitrust lawsuit focused on Visa and MasterCard that struck down one of their rules that prevented banks from issuing credit cards on our credit card network. Since that ruling, we've been able to partner with banks to issue cards on the Discover network. This has been a whole new area of legal coverage for us. We were also able to enter the debit business.

Q: How do you handle litigation?
A: We do not have a tremendous amount of lawsuits brought against Discover, but we do have a major antitrust damages lawsuit that we filed a couple of years ago against Visa and MasterCard. That's set to go to trial this month.


Cathleen Flahardy

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