Larry Langdon: Career Commitment to ADR Has Paid Off – Outside the Courtroom
Larry with his wife XX
During his 45-year career practicing law, Larry R. Langdon '61 has worked for public and private business, a nonprofit organization, as well as the federal government. He prides himself on the fact that he has rarely seen the inside of a courtroom.
How is this possible? Larry's commitment to the principles of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) – promoting mediation and negotiation as alternatives to litigation – has saved these diverse clients time and money.
OSU's Moritz College of Law has one of the nation's top alternative dispute resolution programs. For more than twenty years, Moritz has trained students to seek creative solutions to resolve disputes. Its Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution is the official law journal of the American Bar Association's Section on Dispute Resolution, and is the most cited journal in the field of ADR. Though the ADR program did not exist when Larry went through law school, his work in both public and private business and government stands as a testament to its tactics.
"For many business disputes, going to court is too expensive, too time consuming and too public a forum to deal with complex disputes that a business may encounter," Larry said.
Nothing demonstrates this better than the four-year period Larry spent at the Internal Revenue Service serving as commissioner for the Large and Mid-Size Business Division from 1999 to 2003, where he instituted dispute resolution processes designed to reduce appeals time.
Larry managed tax compliance for corporate and partnership taxpayers with more than $10 million in assets, paying more than $600 billion in taxes. He recruited an internal and external team of 38 executives and led a nationwide workforce of 6,000, with an annual budget of more than $680 million.
Larry said he told his suitors at the IRS that he only wanted the job if he could make a material difference. That he did.
The Fast Track Settlement appeals system he proposed cut appeal times by ninety percent, from an average of 780 days to a mere 70 days. He also introduced innovative issue management strategies such as the Pre-Filing Agreement Program and the Industry Issue Resolution Program.
"'Witnesses and documents don't get better with age,'" Larry said a colleague once told him. "When I came in, there were some audits as old as 14 years. It is important for taxpayers that the appeals process moves quickly, and it's better to resolve them by administrative process, rather than in court."
Prior to going to work for the government, Larry spent 22 years with Hewlett-Packard, starting in 1978, where he served primarily as vice president of tax, licensing and customs. It was a time period that gave him a front row seat to the burgeoning Silicone Valley scene.
"I came to Hewlett Packard at a time when I was able to work directly with Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. When I got there it already was a $1.4 million company, with 35 percent annual growth. It was a good time to be part of that business team," Larry said.
It was an opportunity that not only allowed Larry to build his wealth within a successful company, but also gave him a great environment in which to raise his family and to be involved in volunteer groups.
Since leaving his position at the IRS, he took a job as partner and director of global tax practice for Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw – his first time working in a law firm.
"I thought I was at retirement age," he said with a laugh, but fourteen firms began vying for his services as soon as he left the IRS. He settled on Mayer Brown because the Chicago firm's Palo Alto, Calif. office was close to his family's long-time home. He serves as a jack-of-all-trades, working with lawyers from around the firm on tax-related cases.
In all the cases he has participated in since joining the firm, not one has gone to litigation. "Some people might view that as a negative," he said. "I see it as a badge of honor." No doubt it's a career that will serve as a great example to aspiring students in the Moritz alternative dispute resolution program.
Friends wanting to catch up with Larry can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.