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Consolidation of litigation at Sunoco under a chief litigation counsel and some practices

In late 2005, Sunoco’s litigation was handled by various in-house lawyers who were commercial lawyers dedicated to business units. The general counsel then hired a senior litigation partner from Reed Smith, Marilyn Heffley, to create a centralized litigation group. Heffley started by finding all pending cases and transferring responsibility for them to her initial group of four, which has since quadrupled to 15. In the five years since, she has instituted many changes as described in the ACC Docket, May 2011 at 135.

One notable change has been the level of work done by her group. “[L]itigation group staff members conduct all first-and second-level document reviews in major litigation matters, handle all small claims matters, draft responses to standard pleadings and discovery requests, and respond to third-party subpoenas.” The group supervises more than 900 current cases. One other practice I should note: Heffley meets every three months with Sunoco’s senior management team to review all the cases that pertain to their units and to answer their questions.

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