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Starbucks’ Top Advocate Traces Path to the General Counsel Office

November 15, 2011

The view from the general counsel’s office is lovely when a lawyer believes in the company for which she works, Starbucks General Counsel Paula Boggs told a packed room of students during a visit on Nov. 14.

Calling Starbucks both a “magnet for people who want to make a difference” and “one of the biggest brands on the planet,” Boggs oversees a small army of lawyers around the world who handle varied legal matters, from intellectual property, to real estate to employment law and deal-making.

Boggs, the general counsel, executive vice president and secretary of Starbucks, has a resume that includes stints as vice president of Dell Computer Corporation, partner with Seattle’s Preston Gates & Ellis, staff attorney for the White House and assistant United States attorney in the Western District of Washington State.

A delegate to the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates who was appointed by President Obama to the White House Council for Community Solutions, Boggs joked that she only went to law school because the three-year pursuit of a J.D. allowed her to postpone the start of her career a year longer than would a master’s degree.

Serving as general counsel allows Boggs to devote her energy to a single client, which she relishes, and to work with people who love the law and solving problems.

“The more complicated an issue is, the more exhilarating it is,” Boggs said.