You can hear it in her voice: Tara Pellicori loves her job. The current assistant general counsel at Subaru of America thinks she was always destined to wind up at the car company that has one of the most passionate consumer bases in the auto industry. The way she tells it, the love Subaru owners feel for their vehicles isn’t a one-sided affair; it’s a love and passion that exudes from the company itself.
“During my tenure as a corporate lawyer, I’ve worked with hundreds, if not thousands, of companies, and I have never been as inspired or impressed as I am by the culture and the leadership at Subaru,” Pellicori says. “It has made me love my job more than I ever thought possible, especially when you aggregate the corporate success together with the family values and moral compass of the organization we’re talking about.”
Pellicori came to Subaru in February 2019 after successful firm roles at Pepper Hamilton and then DLA Piper (while also teaching as an adjunct professor at her alma mater, Rutgers Law School). The attorney has known where her life was going since she was five. “I’ve always demonstrated strong negotiating skills,” Pellicori says, laughing. “Whether I was trying to cut a deal to reduce parental sentences of ‘time-out’ or advocate for my little sisters when they needed counsel, it’s been part of my nature.”
But the short-lived life cycle of firm work left the successful attorney craving something more. She found that her favorite part of her job was the strategic counseling she was providing to general counsel and other corporate executives. “I always wanted to know what decision they wound up making after I gave them advice and why,” Pellicori explains. “I didn’t want to only help them with a portion of the information they needed to make an informed decision.” Pellicori wanted to experience the entire spectrum of solving a problem—and she’d get her chance at Subaru.
Outside Office Hours
Tara Pellicori’s dedication to making her world a better place far exceeds what she does in her day job. Along with consulting for her self-founded company, LauncHer, which focuses on supporting minority- and women-owned businesses, Pellicori continues to teach the legal entrepreneurship clinic at Rutgers–Camden and has been an avid volunteer (since law school) and member of the National Leadership Circle for the nonprofit Street Law. The lawyer volunteers primarily in juvenile detention centers, educating youth on legal topics and empowering kids caught up in the legal system to get on a better track.
The move has been an ideal one for a lawyer who has always gravitated toward helping those in need. Even as a child, Pellicori was leading the charge to sponsor families who needed help paying for holiday gifts and meals and donating stuffed animals to hospitals. The working mom continues to engage in this spirit of charity both in her personal life and through opportunities at Subaru. She also often includes her three young children in hopes of imparting generational goodwill. “I needed to be somewhere that aligned with my core values,” Pellicori says.
Subaru operates in a highly regulated industry, with a business model that includes international supply chain considerations and a national distribution network. Attracting top talent for Subaru is a must, and Pellicori is no exception. The former DLA Piper alum has brought her multidisciplinary experience and the application of her primary legal and business competencies to Subaru.
“Tara is a tireless advocate for Subaru,” says Andy Bertron, partner at Nelson Mullins. “Subaru has seen tremendous growth, and with it, a host of new challenges for in-house counsel. Tara meets those challenges and does it with class.”
The Philadelphia Legal Intelligencer “Lawyer on the Fast Track” recipient could be taking her time to highlight the numerous accolades she has received over the years or explain the broad range of sophisticated experience she’s amassed. The domestic, international, and multijurisdictional matters, the complex mergers, acquisitions, reorganizations, and strategic alliances and joint ventures. Instead, Pellicori holds up a heart she forms with her hands.
“This is for my legal team,” she says. “They sealed the deal in my deciding to come here. It starts with our General Counsel Sheila Gallucci-Davis and our Associate General Counsel Terri Claybrook. I’ve been incredibly lucky to grow personally and professionally under their mentorship. They’re just extraordinary people and attorneys, and they’ve been at the helm of this legal department for decades. They’re amazing, they’re mentors, they’re champions, they’re family.”
That appreciation extends far beyond the legal department. Pellicori speaks of the culture of love and respect that is at the heart of every interaction at Subaru. “Whether you’re interacting with your internal colleagues, our retailers, our customers, our vendors, or our community, that feeling is always there,” Pellicori says. “I see it in the way we foster an inclusive culture, the way we value volunteerism, and in our commitment to corporate responsibility.”
Over time, Subaru has developed a reputation for maintaining passionate customers and for using its wide presence to aid organizations in need. If there’s one automotive brand that comes to mind when one thinks of love, there’s a reason. There is the well-publicized Subaru Share the Love Event, which partners with more than 630 Subaru retailers nationwide to donate $250 to a charity of the purchasers’ or leasers’ choosing from mid-November to the end of the calendar year. Over the past thirteen years, the event has donated more than $200 million to more than 1,440 national and local charity partners.
There’s also the “Subaru Love Promise,” which has five pillars that revolve around the environment, health, community, education, and animals. Every month, Subaru recognizes hundreds of Subaru retailers across the country who have bettered their communities through this shared promise.
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Under Pellicori’s legal counsel, Subaru also partnered with the Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union, which was one of the AGC’s most enjoyable experiences to date. “What made the experience unique was that, while the intricate commercial terms had to be satisfied, the real heart of the partnership discussions were rooted in the parties’ commitment to beautify and enhance the greater Philadelphia community through pillars of the Subaru Love Promise,” explains Pellicori.
Highlights include showcasing adoptable shelter dogs at Subaru Park and an on-site sustainable and organic “Garden for Good” that has already produced 25,400 servings of organic fruits and vegetables to food banks in the Chester, Pennsylvania area.
“There are so many places where the question posed to legal counsel is, ‘What do we have—or can we gain—a right to do?’ Pellicori explains. “But here, every day, every interaction, the question is, ‘What is the right thing to do? How can we do more, and how can we be a better partner?’ The way in which our leadership has normalized the incorporation of this thought process into our culture and every day decision-making is inspiring and motivating.”
Pellicori wanted to find an organization where she could help solve problems from beginning to end. But at Subaru, she has the chance to do even more. She gets to help make the world a better place, one satisfied customer at a time—and beyond.