The Law School Magazine  ·  Spring 2008 : Alumni Profiles

Two ’75 Graduates Promoted to Leading Counsel Positions at Procter & Gamble

By - Spring 2008
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Steve Jemison and Terry Overbey, both 1975 graduates of what is now called The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, met one another on the first day of law school.  They competed on the tennis court together, lived in the same dormitory, and quickly became close friends.  But neither expected their careers to be so intertwined.  Both quickly rose through the ranks of Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble, and both were recently promoted to leading attorney positions within the global company.

“I remember Steve telling me while we were in law school, ‘I may not be the smartest student in the class, but no one will outwork me,’” Overbey said.  “He certainly has worked hard.”

Jemison will begin this summer as chief legal officer for Procter & Gamble, and Overbey is general counsel for Folgers Coffee, which will soon split from Procter & Gamble and become its own entity.  Both men indicated that they devoted their careers and plenty of hard work to Procter & Gamble, which employs more than 138,000 people in 80 countries around the world.

“Procter & Gamble is one of the great companies in the world,” Overbey said. “I can work with bright, capable clients.  The company has wonderful ethics, heritage, and history; it is an absolute joy.”

Jemison is responsible for the nearly 300 lawyers who work for Procter & Gamble.  “Managing the company’s legal affairs and the environment that we have globally is a bit of a scary proposition,” he said.  “You can’t anticipate what the next big problem is. You hope you’re prepared and provide guidance for the work and minimize legal exposure.”

Overbey, who was planning to retire, said he was persuaded by the soon-to-be chief executive officer of Folgers to return to work.  He not only will be involved in the operations of the new company, but he will also handle the legal issues involved with Folgers split from Procter & Gamble.

Overbey, who grew up outside of Cincinnati, went to work for Procter & Gamble immediately after graduating from the Ohio State College of Law.  Jemison said that he was interested in working for P&G but didn’t see the sign-up sheet to interview with the company before the deadline.  Overbey would later help bring Jemison to the company.  Overbey said that, when Procter & Gamble brought labor law in house, he naturally recommended Jemison for the job.  “I had obtained expertise the company needed working on the outside,” Jemison said.  “Terry suggested I would be a good fit.”

Overbey has spent most of his career juggling corporate and securities law for Procter & Gamble.  Between 1994 and 2002, he was the corporate secretary.  Most recently, he was general counsel and vice president for Gillette, which merged with P&G in 2005.

Jemison, who was raised on Chicago’s south side, has several positions in P&G’s legal department, most recently deputy general counsel. Jemison said that his experience with difficult legal issues outside of the United States, in places like Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.  Those issues have prepared him for his most recent promotion, Jemison said.

“I  think I’ve had some great experiences over the years, especially working overseas more recently,” he said.  “These have helped mature my understanding of being a lawyer and being a leader.”

Jemison and Overbey said that they have remained close through the years. “Steve is someone I can rely upon, and there is the trust to talk with each other about issues we face,” Overbey said.  “As Steve’s career has taken off, we’ve consulted each other about career decisions.”

Jemison and Overbey also led a group of employees at Procter & Gamble to fund the Robert J. Watkins/Procter & Gamble Designated Professorship, which is currently held by Professor Allan J. Samansky.  “We both worked for Robert Watkins ’53,” Jemison said.  “He was a great guy and a great boss.  He got us started giving back to the University.”

Both Jemison and Overbey have also played a vital role in the development of the College’s Leadership Scholarship program.  The program, started in 2007, allowed the College to award an unprecedented amount of financial aid to its incoming class.  As a result, the Class of 2010 is comprised of some of the College’s most accomplished and successful students to date.

“Steve and Terry have had outstanding careers at Procter & Gamble,” Dean Nancy H. Rogers said.  “We are grateful that they have taken time to counsel and lead at the College, in the midst of these demanding careers.  Both were active on the College’s National Council, and Steve is president-elect of the College’s Alumni Society.  We enjoy seeing the obvious regard Steve and Terry have for each other and the joy each takes in the other’s achievements.”


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