The two primary hats Deputy General Counsel Marcie Getelman wears for Lennar’s eastern region, just two larger hats of the countless others worn by in-house counsel for a national, publicly traded company, would be far more difficult to pull off were it not for her thirty years of legal expertise. Getelman’s job is paired with a national e-discovery and cybersecurity role that has only become more important with the passing of each year.
Getelman’s focus on reducing costs for all aspects of the company’s legal expenses, while tightening up protection against potential data breaches, is impressive considering her talent for finding just the right lawyers and professionals for achieving successful results. Despite the intense pressures of these critical roles for Lennar, she is able to adapt to meet the varying needs of Lennar’s multiple divisions across the nation.
The intricacies of Getelman’s practice are notable in Lennar’s company structure. The home construction and real estate company operates nationally, and that means that its approach to the construction and selling of its products require it to be flexible and tailored to its regions and divisions. “What would be a great selling point in Delaware is not going to be the same in Florida,” she explains.
That region-specific flexibility is reflected in how the company is structured. Lennar divisions operate almost as independent companies, and it means that Getelman encounters each division on its own terms. She provides unique support for those divisions in a personalized and effective way that can only be earned after deep interaction with those different leaders, styles, and methodologies.
“It can be a challenge because you have to learn to pivot from one division to the next,” the deputy general counsel explains. “It affects not just the way I might handle a case, but even the way I communicate with the division. I need to be able to come in when they need me, adjust, pivot, and do the same thing all over again in a different environment.”
In addition to her own approach, Getelman leads a team of lawyers whose expertise and experience may make them much more effective in such regions than others. The DGC says that when considering which lawyer to put on a case, she’s not only weighing their personality and strengths but those of the division heads they’d be supporting.
The same goes for outside counsel. “I pick my outside counsel oftentimes not just based on their obvious expertise and skills, but on who I think will fit the best in the division and who would work well together,” Getelman explains. “If I find an outside counsel that really hits the mark on a particular issue, I won’t hesitate to move them across divisions and work with other teams.”
There’s really no other way this matchmaking could be done without deep institutional knowledge of one’s business and concerted effort put into understanding the motivations, pain points, and needs of dozens of different teams and operations. Getelman says it wasn’t something that necessarily came naturally to her, but one that’s been perfected over a few decades in law, first at Turnberry Associates and now at Lennar.
Getelman’s national efforts on the e-discovery and cybersecurity front also deserve a closer look. The DGC endeavors to reduce the often widely expensive e-discovery process while also making the practice more secure than ever. It’s a win-win at a moment when data breaches seem to be an “if, not when.”
“We’re working toward really sharpening up our e-discovery program to better control all of our information in order to significantly reduce the possibility of a cybersecurity breach,” Getelman explains. “We’re working to look to bring it all in-house so that when different law firms and outside counsel need access to information, it will never have to leave our environment.”
Additionally, if e-discovery searches have already been conducted on one particular issue, the potential for redundancy will be greatly diminished by maintaining those searches in one repository. And once the matter is closed, Lennar won’t have to go to multiple firms with requests to delete the information.
“This move to do it all in-house will not only better protect our information, but it will reduce significant costs,” the DGC says.
Getelman says Lennar’s cybersecurity position is strengthened by an incident response plan that is ready to go at a moment’s notice. In fact, its vulnerability is most exposed when information has to leave the confines of the company, like when third parties need access.
“That’s why it makes sense to have fewer hands-on information in an environment that we can’t control,” Getelman. “In this case, the fewer locations the information is in, the better.”
Cybersecurity firm Check Point Research reported that 2021 was a record-breaking year for cyberattacks on businesses. “Last year, we saw a staggering 50 percent more cyberattacks per week on corporate networks compared to 2020—that’s a significant increase,” reported Check Point Research data research manager Omer Dembinsky.
The uptick in attacks has only made cybersecurity a more prescient issue for organizations both big and small. Getelman’s approach follows sound logic when it comes to reducing any and every potential for breach that can be made without impacting operations.
“Marcie’s extraordinary success is grounded in her passionate and thoughtful approach,” says William L. Ryan, partner at Archer & Greiner. “This approach, infused with a unique and creative strategic insight, makes Marcie a dynamic and highly effective litigator and partner. Archer congratulates Marcie on this well-deserved recognition.”
Whether Getelman is working on the cybersecurity issues for the entirety of Lennar’s operations or helping provide support for Lennar’s eastern region, her investment is evident. The lawyer goes to great lengths to understand the inner workings of both the people and operations that help fuel Lennar’s business. She serves as a perfect illustration of what it looks like to enable business from the legal department.
Foley & Lardner LLP:
“Marcie brings exceptional innovation, direction, and a relentless will to confront the most difficult litigation challenges while consistently achieving unparalleled results. Foley & Lardner is a proud member of the Lennar team and applauds Marcie’s success.”
–David Harper, Partner