Teresa Wynn Roseborough '86 in Atlanta. Photo by Todd Bennett.
Read the full article in the Spring-Summer 2014 issue of Carolina Law.
As general counsel for The Home Depot, the world’s largest home improvement retailer, Teresa Wynn Roseborough’s scope of practice is as broad and varied as the contents of a Home Depot store.
“Everything from Chinese corporate law to bankruptcy to vendor agreements to litigation to employment to environmental law … it’s hard to imagine an area of law we don’t touch,” she says.
That wide responsibility, as well as the opportunity to influence broadly how a large company operates, turned out to be irresistible to Roseborough when she joined Home Depot in Atlanta in 2011.
“It’s a great opportunity to visualize the impact of law from a high altitude,” she says.
Before The Home Depot, Roseborough had been a top corporate lawyer at insurance giant MetLife, and before that she had spent time as a litigator in private practice and in senior roles at the U.S. Department of Justice.
Litigators, Roseborough says, view the client through the lens of a single case or transaction. As a corporate lawyer, she’s responsible for what happens after the litigation is over — whatever the outcome — and even trying to prevent the next case from ever getting as far as a courtroom.
“The opportunity to stay engaged with the same set of clients, to really get to know them, to impact how they think, to help reason through issues and be involved in developing strategy,” she says, “is just a great opportunity and a great way to practice law.”
It’s a perspective and a position that she could never have anticipated when she entered Carolina Law in the 1980s.
“I wanted to be a great courtroom lawyer and I wanted to work with big issues,” she says. “I wanted to use law to make people’s lives and businesses and our country better.”
After law school, she clerked first for a federal appeals court judge and then for Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, then went into private practice at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP as a litigation associate.
After working on the Clinton transition team following the 1992 presidential election, she spent three years at the Justice Department, working with senior officials such as U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and Assistant Attorney General Walter Dellinger.
She returned to private practice at Sutherland as a partner in 1996, and spent the next 10 years there before joining MetLife’s in-house legal team in 2006 as the company’s chief litigation counsel.
“I grew up with a father who was an actuary, so I was kind of attuned to the life insurance world,” she says. That exposure to the challenges and opportunities of being an in-house counsel eventually led to her position at Home Depot. “Being in house is great.”
Roseborough continues to learn. When she entered law school, she says, “I really was clueless about the scope of what lawyers did.”
Now, she knows that scope first-hand.
“I loved law school,” she says. “I’m a nerd enough that I have loved everything about being a lawyer.”
-June 4, 2014