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Career in contracts led to ConAgra
Lisa Timms ’99 did not expect her career path after law school graduation to lead her to so many different directions. However, her enthusiasm to learn in early professional experiences was key to building the foundation of her career, one that would eventually lead her to a position with ConAgra Foods.
“Never say ‘no’ to an opportunity,” Timms said. “You never know what new project may translate into a new, great experience for you. I could never have guessed that the foundation of my career would have been built on contracts. But because I was willing to try to do contracts, it resulted in a career.”
After graduating from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Timms chose to work for an accounting firm. It wasn’t long, however, before she realized she wanted to follow a different career path. “I decided that really I was missing out and needed to be a lawyer,” she said.
Timms’ persistence led her to the position of general counsel for the office of the Ohio Treasurer of State, where she was granted tenure for five years. Her time with the government exposed her to corporate and financial matters that she otherwise would not have received. Following her tenure with the treasurer, she worked for Steiner & Associates, a national mixed-use developer, as corporate counsel. At Steiner, she supported the construction and development teams to build shopping centers like Easton Town Center in Columbus; The Greene in Dayton, Ohio; Bayshore Town Center in Glendale, Wisc.; and Zona Rosa in Kansas City, Mo.
As a result, Timms was then able to transfer those skills to a hybrid transactional and litigation position at Perez & Morris LLC.
“It’s an unusual track to go from in-house to a firm – kind of a different career path – and it ultimately made me a better transactional attorney,” she said. “It really gave me context for negotiating all types of agreements.”
That experience gave Timms the confidence she needed to apply for the legal counsel position supporting the supply chain with ConAgra Foods in Omaha, Neb.
ConAgra is a Fortune 500 company specializing in packaged foods for supermarkets, restaurants, and other food establishments. According to the company, 99 percent of American households contain a ConAgra product in their pantries, including SlimJim, Orville Redenbacher, Healthy Choice, PAM, Hebrew National, Swiss Miss, and Egg Beaters.
Although she did not have a background in the food industry, Timms was certain that her previous skills would benefit the company.
“Like any new position, there’s a learning curve related to the subject matter,” Timms said. “But I felt strongly that I had the contractual foundation.”
Timms now has a number of duties for ConAgra, including negotiating all agreements related to procurement, which involves the purchasing of any type of ingredient, service, or good used by the company. She also supports the transportation and contract manufacturing divisions, as well as the management of disputes prior to litigation.
Overall, Timms has been more than pleased with her time at ConAgra and is proud of the company’s accomplishments.
“I think it’s been an incredibly positive experience,” she said. “I work with incredibly talented attorneys. We work as a team, we work functionally together and everyone really has a lot of respect for one another. But there are healthy challenges and healthy discussions, and, as a result, I think we come out with fantastic legal products and fantastic food products.”
Article by Shay Trotter.