In its first 40 years of existence, Stanley, Inc. never faced a single piece of litigation. Suddenly, in the last year, the Arlington-based government contractor has drawn some lawsuits—including a strange trademark infringement action from a Georgia carpet manufacturer also named Stanley. What gives? Stanley’s first GC, Scott Chaplin, has an answer: “I warned the CEO that there would be some litigation after we went public,” Scott says.
He looks rested here, but Scott was in the office every day for a two-month period preceding Stanley’s fall ’06 IPO. When the execs told Scott that Stanley’s tax director, Jaime Chase, had a law degree she was itching to use, he pulled her on board. “I would have taken help from the janitor,” he says. Jaime cleaned up legal messes pretty well; she’s now Scott’s Associate General Counsel.
Scott Chaplin is the third nominee for the 2007 Corporate Counsel of the Year award given by WMACCA that we’re featuring on Bisnow. (The event is Oct. 25. More info) We dropped in to hear what else the new GC is teaching an executive leadership with an average of 15-20 years’ experience at the 3,000-employee company.
Brought on last year to execute a fast-track IPO, Scott laid out a grueling schedule that had some prospective investment banks running for the hills—and others calling him crazy. What Scott was really looking for, he says, were partners willing to get on board with Stanley’s “conservatively aggressive” approach to getting things done. (After a two-day marathon of I-banker beauty contests, Stanley chose Citigroup.) “When we make up our mind to do something, we rip the bandage off instead of taking a lot of time,” Scott says.
Scott drafted Stanley’s new Code of Ethics. To educate employees, Scott eschewed “web-inars” and hopped on planes to do training in person.
Steve Burns, Craig Arcella, and Steve Kessing headed the Cravath team that worked on the offering—and shared Scott’s work ethic. It also helped, Scott says, that Cravath could use its network of SEC contacts to push Stanley’s S1 to the front of the agency’s queue and funnel intelligence back. During the run-up, Scott kept an eye on the whole legal team through DataSite software that housed a virtual file room of relevant documents. The program allowed Scott to see what team members had accessed which documents, and for how long.
Outside of the corporate area, Scott turns to Seyfarth Shaw (labor), Wiley Rein (regulatory counseling), and long-time Stanley adviser Dickstein Shapiro. No matter what the subject area, Scott always wants his outside counsel to have experience working with government contractors. The issues are “always different,” he says, for an industry at the “mecca of regulation.”
When you ring the NYSE bell, you really have to ring it. The stock exchange instructed Stanley CEO Phil Nolan to hold the button down for three seconds. If you mess it up, the whole trading floor booos.
The long tenure of Stanley’s executives, according to Scott, helps maintain a family vibe despite the company’s recent growth. (It has added about 500 employees in the last year.) Of course, it’s easy to think about family at work when your wife Stephanie is around—she’s a trainer on Stanley’s contract with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. The two first met at Getronics, before it was purchased by DigitalNet, where Scott got his first IPO experience. Stephanie works from Stanley’s Alexandria site, which is just fine with both of them: “It’s kind of weird to turn the corner at work and bump into your wife,” Scott says.