Chris Garber, managing counsel at Nationwide, on legal trends, his dream job
Current: Managing counsel, Nationwide, seven years
Education: JD, William & Mary, 1999; BSJ, Ohio University, 1995
Association of National Advertisers (Legal Affairs Committee), Association of Corporate Counsel
Advertising, Marketing, Social Media
Youth sports coach
Thankfully, my current role is to counsel Nationwide on the creation of compelling marketing programs, not make the news for legal cases. In addition to my work on marketing campaigns, I've enjoyed the opportunity to serve as legal counsel for Nationwide's sports sponsorships, with talent like Danica Patrick, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and, most recently, Peyton Manning, as well as Nationwide's sponsorships of the NFL and NASCAR.
I was a civil litigator and trademark lawyer at Klinedinst, PC, a medium-sized firm in San Diego.
How did you come to focus on your practice or specialization?
As a journalism major at Ohio University, I developed an interest in the legal issues affecting the media and communications industries. A chance assignment as a law clerk ignited an interest in trademark law. But I didn't have the chance to combine them until I came to Nationwide. Here I'm able to really practice my passion.
What business or legal trends are key drivers in your practice?
Social media has been a game-changer. It's immediate, global and permanent. More than just a marketing channel, it's an open line for Nationwide's members and the public to speak to the company. It's been thrilling to be on the front lines for Nationwide as these communications channels arose and evolved. Providing legal advice in this area-as regulators and courts try to catch up to technology-is an exciting challenge.
What is the biggest change you have adapted to in your practice?
Coming from a law firm, the biggest change for me-and the most professionally rewarding-has been the long-term nature of the relationship. I've worked hard to understand Nationwide and its diverse portfolio of businesses, products and services, which has helped me deliver solution-oriented advice. The greatest reward is when my marketing colleagues see me as a true partner and are able to gain real value from the partnership.
What are the most promising opportunities for your practice?
I'm just excited to continue to learn from and collaborate with great people, on both the legal and marketing teams.
If not law, what would be your dream job?
The longer I do this, the more I realize how ill-suited I am for other things. But to dream? If given the opportunity, I'd love to be a talk show host (Charlie Rose, not Jerry Springer) or a book editor.