Women in Business Law: Perspectives from In-House Women Lawyers

October 2, 2019 | 9/24/19 12:10 pm | Drinko 251 (note room change)

Register here (required)  Lunch will be provided to those who register.

Jeanette Knudsen, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary at the J.M. Smucker Company, together with Jackie Welch, Vice President of Litigation and Michelle Schuld, Director and Managing Counsel of Business and Contract Services, will talk about working in-house for a major corporation, the impact women attorneys have in business, opportunities, challenges and obstacles women attorneys face in business and in law, and about giving legal advice in the context of being a trusted business partner and at the same time, an ethical attorney.

They will also discuss Smucker’s focus on ethical and sustainable sourcing, the company’s supplier code of conduct, and how an attorney’s work can better the natural environment.

The J.M. Smucker Company is an Ohio-based Fortune 500 American company founded in 1897 that employs more than 7,000 people. The company is a North American marketer and manufacturer, whose portfolio of products includes the iconic Smucker’s jams and Jif®peanut butter, plus other recognizable foods and beverages brands, including Uncrustables®, Sahale Snacks®, Santa Cruz Organic®, Crisco®, and Folgers®and Dunkin’ Donuts® coffees and others. The company portfolio also includes a number of pet product lines including Milk-Bone®, Gravy Train® and Kibbles ‘n Bits®among others.


Jeannette Knudsen is Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary at The J. M. Smucker Company based in Orrville, Ohio.  When Jeannette joined the Company, she was only the second in-house lawyer. Today, she leads a team of nearly 50 employees and oversees a department that has evolved dramatically along with the Company.

In her current leadership role, Jeannette is deeply involved in developing and implementing strategic initiatives for the Company. This includes responsibilities for complex business transactions including acquisitions and divestitures, joint development and licensing arrangements, commercial agreements, and dispute resolutions. She also works closely with the Company’s Board of  Directors and its Committees to develop and implement governance programs to ensure compliance with Securities and Exchange Commission and New York Stock Exchange regulations. In addition, Jeannette leads the compliance and risk management programs and has assumed oversight of the regulatory function.

Prior to joining the Company, Jeannette was an Associate Attorney with Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, LLP where she practiced in corporate transactions, intellectual property, real estate, and construction.

Jeannette provides leadership for roles on the Intellectual Property Advisory Council and Miller-Becker Center for Professional Responsibility for The University of Akron School of Law, and is on the board for the Achievement Centers for Children.

A graduate of The University of Akron, Jeannette earned a J.D. from the School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in psychology.


Jaclyn Bryk Welch is Vice President – Litigation at The J. M. Smucker Company.  Jaclyn’s practice entails managing the Company’s litigation portfolio and claims including class action litigation, California’s Proposition 65 litigation, and commercial disputes. Before joining Smucker’s Jaclyn worked at Tucker Ellis LLP in Cleveland, Ohio, and Flaherty Sensabaugh Bonasso PLLC in Charleston, West Virginia.

Jaclyn graduated from John Carroll University and The Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University, where she earned a J.D.


Michelle Schuld is Director and Managing Counsel, Contracts & Business Services, at the J. M. Smucker Company. In this role, Michelle provides legal guidance and support to business teams on a wide range of legal issues and commercial agreements, including contract manufacturing, information technology, professional services, and supply agreements.  She also has responsibility for developing and implementing effective contract management policies and procedures, including overseeing the tools and technology used to support this function.

Prior to joining Smucker, Michelle was an associate at the law firm of Black McCuskey in Canton, Ohio, where she focused her practice on commercial transactions and real estate.

Michelle earned her J.D. from the University of Akron


Co-sponsored by the Women’s Legal Society and the Business Law Society.