Cason is the Koch attorney leading the legal team responsible for trademarks, copyrights and domain names. When she started with GP in 2002 as the division counsel for its Dixie business, the norm was for each business to handle its own trademark issues separately. “A paralegal and I handled as much of Dixie’s trademark and copyright legal matters as possible in-house,” Cason said.
As more and more work came in, Cason helped to form the trademark group within GP’s intellectual property team. “Around 2006, we realized we could do this work in-house for all of GP, not just Dixie and the Consumer Products business, so my role expanded and I began supporting all other GP businesses as well.” The trademark and copyright team grew, hiring another attorney and more paralegals.
Knowledge sharing is as important to Koch’s legal capability as it is to any other Koch capability or business. But as Cason soon realized, “we still weren’t working as a team across all of Koch. We had great relationships and productive knowledge sharing with other legal teams, but each company tended to handle its work separately.”
That was the situation in 2018 when Tye Darland, Georgia-Pacific’s general counsel, and Ray Geoffroy, general counsel for Koch Industries, announced an experiment involving combined legal teams from KII and GP. Their concept was to establish a team based on comparative advantage rather than business unit and then ask it to support all Koch companies. “They wanted to see what would happen if we had a ‘borderless’ team for trademarks,” Cason said. “We were one of the first groups, along with real estate, to try this.”
After sorting through all the different docketing systems used to track trademarks and copyrights, the team consolidated everything onto a single system and moved all paper files into an online filing system. “That was a painful process,” Cason admitted. “It meant scanning thousands of files and transferring them online. But the timing was excellent because when COVID hit and we all had to work remotely, everything we needed was accessible online.”
Bottom line: The experiment is no longer an experiment.
Based on Cason’s success, other specialists within the KCPS Legal Capability are following the same model. Meanwhile, Cason’s role expanded to include not only more Koch companies, but also providing general counsel support to Koch Global Services Group, which has opened up yet another new range of experiences and challenges.
“I’ve now lost count of how many times my role has transformed,” Cason said, “but each time has been tremendously rewarding. I enjoy being a lifelong learner, I enjoy tackling something new. And I’ve discovered I enjoy leading teams.
“There is so much opportunity here at Koch that it’s easy to think beyond your original area of responsibility. When I run into my law school classmates they are amazed I’ve been with the same company this long.
“But then I tell them: It’s the same company, but it’s not the same job.”