Lauren Wylie, L’99
Graduation Year: 1999
From Duquesne Lawyer
After earning her J.D. from the Law School in 1999, Lauren Wylie launched her career as a commercial trial lawyer with tremendous energy and great expectations. She brought a strict work ethic and a sharp mind to the legal profession, and her ambitions were being quickly realized. But her journey took a slight diversion when she was presented with in-house counsel opportunities, and in the process she discovered a particularly good fit for her talents. After gaining valuable experience as compliance counsel for United Technologies, Cubic Corporation and Express Scripts, she accepted a position as Chief Legal Officer and general counsel and secretary for MOX Services in 2010.
“I wanted to expand my areas of specialty in the federal regulatory world when the position with MOX became available,” Wylie explains. “I knew there was a great management team already in place, which was a vital aspect for me. Simply stated, it was an incredible opportunity to surround myself with very smart people and confront new legal challenges. Who would say no to that?”
MOX Services is a unique operation with an intriguing history. In 1999, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) signed a contract with a consortium, now called CB&I AREVA MOX Services, LLC, to design, build and operate a mixed oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication facility near Aiken, S.C. The facility takes surplus weapon-grade plutonium, removes impurities and mixes it with uranium oxide to form MOX fuel pellets for reactor fuel assemblies. A single MOX fuel assembly can provide enough electricity to power 9,000 homes for one year. To the layman this sounds like dangerous work, and it certainly requires extreme caution, but thus far the project has worked more than 20 million safe work hours without a lost time incident.
Not surprisingly, the in-house counsel position is as complex and unique as the company premise. Each day brings new obstacles and challenges. Always on the alert for the unforeseen, Wylie engages with senior management in strategic initiatives and manages the legal group. She also works with her government counterparts to tackle challenges facing both the government and its corporate partners. These responsibilities require talents for collaboration, leadership, problem solving, thoroughness and time management—in addition to many other skills.
As with her fellow in-house counsel alumni, the years spent at Duquesne have proven to be a solid foundation for successfully navigating the intricate legal waters of her profession. Among the classes that she finds herself referencing in her present duties are Properties with Kenneth Gray and Constitutional Law with Ken Gormley. “Professor Gray taught me to be creative and thorough. He also reminded me that a sense of humor is critical in the legal profession,” Wylie says, “and I appreciate how Dean Gormley taught me to cut through complex legal issues.”
Being flexible and in tune with the next opportunity is a trait that Wylie continues to use to full advantage. “I expected to be a commercial trial lawyer, but I really enjoy the diversity and constant challenge of my current position, and I couldn’t ask for a better senior management team in which to be a member.” Her experiences have provided her with a friendly dictum for law students and recent graduates: “Don’t be afraid to look around the next corner and have an open mind when it comes to your legal career.”