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Senior Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary of Jack in the Box, Inc., San Diego, CA

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Lawrence Schauf: Senior Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary of Jack in the Box, Inc., San Diego, CA
By Jen Woods

Lawrence Schauf, who started his first job when he was just 12 years old, has worked hard his entire life. His drive and determination have ultimately paid off because he is now the Senior Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary of Jack in the Box, a fast food hamburger chain.

Schauf's parents earned a modest income. He worked hard to earn scholarships and paid for his college and law school educations. "But I wasn't driven by the need to make a lot of money, because we were getting along fine without a lot of money," he said. In fact, he considers himself "blessed" because his parents stressed the importance of education and taught him the value of standing up for what he believed in.

Schauf enrolled in the J.D. program at Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, KS. While at the school, Schauf realized that law students had to spend a lot of time networking during their junior and senior years in order to find jobs. Schauf thought it should be the other way around, that employers should seek new hires by coming to law schools.

Therefore, Schauf founded the law school's placement office, which is still operating today. He worked part-time at the office helping his peers start their careers. "It was a win-win situation," he said.

Law students can benefit from participation in extracurricular activities, especially if they are looking to fill leadership roles in the future, said Schauf, who landed his first job as a Student Assistant U.S. Attorney thanks to his involvement with the placement office. Schauf was also President of the Student Bar Association and contributed to his law school's journal.

Lawyers who are considering in-house careers must first understand the cultures of the companies they plan to work for, Schauf said. They need to have clear understandings of what the companies stand for. Secondly, they must defend their companies' cultures. "Speak up, and do whatever you can to ensure that you have a strong corporate ethics program," he added.

After working in private practice for three years, Schauf accepted a position as Assistant U.S. Attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, which he held from 1974 to 1977. One of the main highlights of the position was the trial experience, he said. The most prominent trial he worked on during that time was the indictment of child pornographer Al Goldstein.

In 1977, Schauf changed gears and decided to work in-house. He joined Pizza Hut, Inc., as Assistant General Counsel and rewrote the company's franchise agreement. In 1981, he was promoted to Vice President of Government Relations.

In 1984, Schauf's career path took another turn, as he started to gain interest in business. He co-founded the Popingo Video chain, where he also served as General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Franchising. Within just 18 months, Popingo Video opened 45 stores. Schauf eventually sold Popingo, and he is currently on the board of directors of the company that acquired it.

Once his business was sold, Schauf accepted as position as Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer, and Corporate Secretary of Wendy's International, Inc., which he held from 1987 to 1996.

Initially, Schauf was worried about getting back into law, but he soon realized his business experience gave him an edge. "Having done the entrepreneurial work helped," said Schauf, who was the only lawyer in the Wendy's legal department who had founded and run a franchise.

In August of 1996, Schauf replaced the retiring General Counsel of Jack in the Box, headquartered in San Diego, CA. He now oversees the law department's 26 employees, eight of which are lawyers.

Schauf is a strong believer in corporate ethics, which is why he founded the Jack in the Box Ethics Program in 1997. Today, he serves as Chief Ethics Compliance Officer for the company.

"The best litigation tool in the world is having a strong ethics program," he said. Employment litigation has decreased dramatically since the implementation of the ethics program, Schauf said, noting that the number of employees has increased 64%, while employee litigation has decreased by 46%.

As Corporate Secretary, Schauf has directed an award-winning Corporate Governance Program. In 2002, the Corporate Library Board Analyst, an independent investment research firm specializing in corporate governance, awarded Jack in the Box the highest possible rating for board effectiveness and best practices.

Since joining Jack in the Box, Schauf has helped introduce Quick Stuff, a convenience store chain that combines its services with those of gas stations and Jack in the Box restaurants. In 2003, Schauf was also involved in the acquisition of Qdoba Restaurant Corporation, which owns more than 300 Qdoba Mexican Grill restaurants in 40 states.

Schauf has been involved in some high-profile legal disputes, as well. For instance, he helped Jack in the Box win a 52.5 million-dollar verdict against a company that delivered bad hamburgers.

Looking back, Schauf said that moving in-house was the "best career decision I made in 35 years of practice." It provided more job stability, opportunities for job advancement, and family time, said Schauf, who has three children and seven grandchildren. This year, he is celebrating his 40th wedding anniversary, something he does not think would have been possible if he continued to work at law firms.

Schauf is a member of many professional organizations. He belongs to the American Corporate Counsel Association, the American Society of Corporate Secretaries, the California Bar Association, and the American Bar Association. He has served on the board of directors for the International Franchise Association, and he is a former president and board member of the National Council of Chain Restaurants.

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Jack in the Box

Washburn University School of Law

Washburn Student Bar Association

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