Rebecca Letourneaux discovered her passion for the law long before she became an attorney.
“I’ve always known that I wanted to be a lawyer,” Letourneaux states. “The first time I recall saying it out loud, I was in elementary school.”
As far as she has come since then, Letourneaux has never wavered from following her passion. Today, as associate general counsel at financial services firm William Blair, she puts that passion to use advising the business on litigation, employment law, and data privacy matters. She prides herself on her ability to stay calm and serve as a voice of reason, no matter what comes her way.
Letourneaux honed her knack for steadying the ship during her years as a litigator. “A big part of my role as an external counsel was to take the emotion out of things for my client,” she explains. “It came very naturally to me when I was in private practice because I was one step removed. Since going in-house, it’s become a bit more difficult. I am the client now, and my internal client is my employer.”
Despite the challenges that accompany her increased proximity to the business, Letourneaux couldn’t be more confident in her decision to take her career in-house. “I view my career as a relationship that I need to nurture and give a certain amount of priority,” she says. “I had kids before I became a lawyer, and I had to work to set aside appropriate amounts of time and prioritize various parts of my life. I realized that my career was just a natural part of that divvying up of my time and that an in-house career would make the most sense for me.”
Letourneaux’s first in-house opportunity, at Fresenius Kabi, was a seamless extension of her private practice experience in the pharmaceutical and medical device space. Surprisingly, the role also laid the groundwork for her subsequent move to William Blair. While at Fresenius Kabi, she developed specializations in employment law and data privacy to complement her litigation skillset—and William Blair happened to be looking for someone with exactly those three areas of expertise.
“The move to William Blair was definitely not something I had anticipated. At the time, I had been in the pharmaceutical industry for fifteen-plus years, and I assumed that I would stay in that world for my entire career,” Letourneaux admits. “I didn’t have financial services experience, but I was coming from a highly regulated industry, and I knew that I could transition some of those skills.”
Letourneaux officially joined William Blair in April of 2022. “It’s such a dynamic place to work,” she says of the firm. “I’m still learning the industry, so there has been a lot of new information, but that academic component—getting to learn all of the regulations as well as different business lines, contexts, and networking opportunities—has been really exciting for me.”
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Change of industry aside, Letourneaux has settled into her role as a point person for the firm when it comes to data privacy. “The evolution of data privacy regulations and data privacy perception in the US is becoming much more visible. People are realizing that they do have options to secure their personal data,” she says. That evolution, along with William Blair’s expanding international footprint, factors into her day-to-day approach to privacy. “One of the projects that I hope to continue working on is better marketing of William Blair’s privacy programs and capabilities, to push the value that we provide in our data security and our protection of our client data,” she adds.
Just like in her previous roles, Letourneaux strives to act as a stabilizing force at William Blair. “In moments of crisis or uncertainty or unfamiliarity, I want to be the type of leader who is a rock—someone people can look to and feel comfort,” she says. “I always remind myself that I have to bring calm to the situation and help my internal client take the temperature down.”
Mentorship is another crucial tenet of Letourneaux’s leadership style. She makes a point of encouraging her direct reports to come to her with questions, whether about their current roles or long-term career goals. “I love seeing the hunger and the energy that young attorneys have and helping them harness that and develop into the type of lawyers they want to be,” she says.
Letourneaux’s own passion for her work remains high, thanks in no small part to her careful tending of the relationship that is her career. “It’s very important to me that my clients know that what I provide to them is my best effort—that when they give me something to do, I’m going to put my best foot forward with it,” she says. “I really enjoy the work that I do, and I really enjoy nurturing this relationship.”
“Rebecca is one of the best attorneys with whom I have worked. She finds sophisticated, creative, and business-focused solutions for complex legal challenges.”
—Amy B. Manning, Chair and Partner, Antitrust Practice Group