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McLean, '92, Acting Globally

Margaret McLean

Margaret McLean had a successful career in computer science when she decided she wanted to go into management. "I had good mentors who said I needed to become more global, to think broadly, to think more critically, more strategically, and to write better," she says.

She enrolled at Michigan Law, convinced that she would never want to practice law. That changed quickly during her 1L year, when she fell in love with the law, the Socratic method, debating with classmates, thinking differently. "I got seduced by it," she says.

Today, as CH2M Hill's chief legal officer and general counsel, the native of Ukraine oversees a team of 52 legal and risk management professionals who provide legal, insurance, and compliance support in more than 75 countries. The Colorado-based company—which provides consulting, design, construction, and operations services for corporations and governments—works with clients on environmental, water, and energy issues.

"I look after legal support for operations, mergers and acquisitions, insurance risk management, ethics," she says. "Environmental remediation, from water to infrastructure, to nuclear remediation, air and water emissions—we look after it all for our public and private clients. Understanding environmental regulations that impact our clients is integral to what we do."

After graduating from Michigan Law, she worked at a private law firm for several years, quickly making partner. There, a six-week assignment in London turned into five and a half years in London and Moscow. She was a rainmaker there, keeping herself and 12 associates busy and billing 2,600 hours per year. But with a new daughter at home, she envisioned a slightly less intense schedule.

That led her to make the move to CH2M Hill, where she supported international projects, helped make the company public in 2000, and watched it grow from $1 billion in annual revenue to $7 billion and 30,000 employees strong. In 2007, she was named general counsel and chief legal officer.

McLean says she enjoys working on the complex issues involved in environmental law, and to do so at a company that has received global recognition for its sustainable work and ethical way of doing business.

"It's very rewarding to work with our clients around the world and help them integrate sustainability into their projects," she says. "We know that it is the right thing to do as a good corporate citizen, and because it makes good business sense to do so—not just in the United States, but all around the world."

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