Thomas L. Sager, the senior vice president and general counsel of DuPont Legal who has transformed the chemical giant’s business relationships with its outside counsel, delivered the keynote address at the 2012 UM Carey Law commencement, Friday, May 18.
Mr. Sager has been a driving force behind the DuPont Convergence and Law Firm Partnering Program, a widely recognized industry benchmark. The program has aligned DuPont’s legal expenditures with its core corporate values, including a staunch commitment to creating a workforce as diverse as society itself. It has also transformed DuPont Legal from a seven-figure cost center to an office that generated more than $2 billion dollars in recovered revenue for the corporation from 2004 to 2011.
“Tom Sager is an inspiration to any young lawyer,” observed UM Carey Law Dean Phoebe Haddon. “He is creative, committed and a highly effective lawyer and business executive. He has also spent years ‘doing good while doing well,’ much like Wm. Polk Carey, our law school’s benefactor.” Mr. Carey made a $30 million gift to UM Carey Law in 2011.
Mr. Sager launched DuPont’s Law Firm Partnering Program in 1992 with an almost four-year “convergence process” that distilled the corporation’s outside counsel from 350 firms to a legal network of 41 primary law firms, 10 primary service providers and a number of diverse legal providers. Each member company agreed to a new business relationship that would embrace a long-term alliance with DuPont, alternative fee arrangements, new technologies and the hiring and retaining of women and minorities in their own companies.
DuPont is also one of the founding companies of the Inclusion Project, a group of companies which last year grew from 11 to 17. Together, they spent $97.7 million with certified minority- and women-owned law firms (MWBE)—well above their $70 million pledge. Inclusion Project members have spent more than $140 million on MWBE firms since the initiative’s launch in 2010.
Mr. Sager is past chair of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, which established the annual Thomas L. Sager Award in recognition of his efforts to promote the hiring and retention of women and minorities throughout the legal profession. He has received the 2001 Spirit of Excellence Award from the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession; the 2009 Corporate Leadership Award from the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR); and the 2011 Founders’ Award from the Legal Aid Society. In 2009, The National Law Journal named him one of the 40 most influential attorneys of the past decade; a year later, he was one of five general counsel cited by the Burton Awards for Legal Achievement as a “Legend in the Law.”