Julie Gremillion is the new General Counsel at GoExpedi, an e-commerce start-up focusing on industrial supplies for the energy industry, where she handles all legal matters, including intellectual property, employment law, corporate governance, contract law, and litigation matters. She is also an alumna in Sidley’s Houston office. Beth Lloyd, Senior Professional Development Manager in Texas, recently sat down with Julie to catch up on her transitions between in-house roles, her proudest career achievements, and the importance of maintaining lifelong Sidley relationships.
Could you walk me through what your career has looked like since leaving Sidley?
I went to the business side rather than the legal side at Anadarko, a big client of the firm that I did a lot of work for when I was with Sidley. I actually got the job because when I got closer to the partnership process, I started reaching out to people in my networks to talk about what it means to make partner and what advice they might have for me, especially from their outside counsel point of view. When I talked to my clients at Anadarko, they said, “Well, would you want to come work here?” It was a unique situation that worked out well.
At Anadarko, I did a lot of the same work as a lawyer, but I also was more involved in how we make decisions: how do we get to the point when we need outside counsel or what happens when we are no longer calling on outside counsel after the deal is done. I got a deeper understanding of the business and it really made me a better lawyer. I became a more pragmatic advocate because I could think through issues more fully and knew what questions to ask. When you really understand the assets, you start to see how that all relates to what you are doing as a lawyer and that changes your practice for the better.
You landed at Anadarko through your relationships, and then Anadarko merged with Occidental Petroleum Corporation (OXY), correct? How did that merger impact your career path?
Yes, Anadarko got bought out by OXY in 2019. Generally, OXY (understandably) prioritized its existing employees in the aftermath, which is very common in a merger — you have a lot of duplicate positions. I negotiated with OXY for a few months about what my new position might look like, but we ultimately didn’t come to a resolution and decided to part ways. Anadarko had strong change in control protection for its employees in the merger documents, so I was very fortunate to leave and have some time to figure out my next steps.
You must have learned a lot from that situation.
I did. But I want to stress that finding the right next job wasn’t perfectly easy for me; I had a few opportunities that just didn’t materialize and that was frustrating. I had a job lined up in the spring that didn’t happen because of the pandemic, which came from a Sidley partner who hooked me up with a former client that I knew from all of Sidley’s women’s events. I also had a chance to join another company doing similar work to what I was doing at Anadarko, and that company is also a Sidley client. I was able to use my Sidley resources and had two different partners call to promote me for that position, but I didn’t get it. I kept moving forward and other potential positions arose, and, in each one, I was able to use my Sidley connections in some way to find out more about the role and the hiring process, or to ask for a recommendation. That is what I think is so great coming from a big law firm like Sidley. If you leave on good terms or maintain your relationships, they can really open doors for you even six years later. My opportunity with GoExpedi also came through a Sidley alumni referral.
What is your new title and what does your role entail?
I am the General Counsel for GoExpedi, Inc. I’ll do everything in this role: corporate governance, intellectual property, employment law, OSHA requirements, contract law, litigation, etc. When we get bigger, we will hire more people under me. It’s been a big learning curve for me so far, but it is also really exciting to have new challenges after practicing for 12 plus years and being faced with a problem that you have to research and figure out or get help from through your network of lawyer friends. You cannot be afraid to say what you do not know.
What is your proudest achievement when you look back over your career?
I would say taking the leap to Anadarko was my proudest moment. I mean, I left the year I was going up for partner, and though there are no guarantees, I knew I had a lot of support for that promotion, and I had worked hard to put myself in the best possible position for it. So leaving it behind was scary. Am I ruining my career forever? It would have been really easy and comfortable to just stay at Sidley. But, taking that leap of faith put things in motion that helped me achieve this milestone. So, looking back, I’m proud of myself for taking that risk and accepting an opportunity that was pretty unique.
Have you had a mentor and how has that person helped you?
Yes, I think it is very important to have a few different types of people that you can go to when you want some advice or information. You want a mentor who promotes you, not just gives you work to do, but someone who gives you the opportunities to really excel. It’s helpful to have different viewpoints that you can reach out for, and I also think it is crucial to maintain your Sidley alumni and non-Sidley relationships too.
What do you like to do outside of work?
During the pandemic, I became a real Martha Stewart. I did a ton of gardening, a lot of cooking, baking, and home décor and a little amateur music production for my church. I think it’s critical to have activities that work your brain in different ways than doing legal work.
Published July 2021 - UPDATE Senior Corporate Counsel, Armis
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