It is now public information that our colleague Jeff Carr has been named Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Univar, Inc.  Univar is the “leading chemical distributor in the United States, providing more chemical products and related services than any other company in the marketplace.”   We view Jeff’s departure from ValoremNext with mixed emotions.  Univar is a great opportunity for Jeff to continue his efforts to reshape law departments to be business-like and business-focused, eliminating boundaries between the law department and the business.  We believe in these efforts—ValoremNext is a manifestation of them, a tool to help law departments pursue these goals. We hope to have some role in Jeff’s efforts, but, if not, we will be watching his “mad scientist” efforts with equal measures of pride and interest, and sadness that he is no longer our colleague.

We learned a great deal from Jeff, first as a service-provider to him while he was General Counsel of FMC Technologies, and then as his colleague.  The rigor of his approach, his view that the law department (and law firms too) need to run like a business, including clarity of “principles, rules and tools.”  We learned about “Stretch, Step, Leap,” a way to view change, and “Plan, Perform, Perfect,” an approach that is essential to an organization that seeks continuous improvement. We learned the incredible value of prevention and his secrets to building a prevention culture. And I learned more about what law departments think and why than I had learned in the prior 30+ years of work.

Jeff was my friend before he became my colleague, and this opportunity does not change our friendship.  If anything, the proximity of Downers Grove, where Univar is headquartered, to my suburb may allow us to enjoy more time together so we can, with appropriate lubrication, work on solving the problems that plague not only the profession, but world at large.  I won’t miss Jeff’s continual push to be more than I am, to be better at what I do and to see the joy in the life we are privileged to lead.  I won’t miss those things because, when you are friends, those things never change.

Here’s hoping Jeff’s path brings him back again.

For those interested, here is a link to Univar’s announcement.