Linda Vogel

Senior Vice President & General Counsel Aerogroup International LLC Edison, New Jersey

Having built the Aerosoles legal department from scratch, Vogel is helping the worldwide manufacturer, retailer, and wholesaler of women’s shoes expand its reach

QuoteBefore coming to Aerosoles, I was the vice president and head employment lawyer at L’Oreal USA, the world’s largest cosmetics company. Prior to that, I was assistant general counsel at Dun & Bradstreet, handling primarily general corporate work. Although my primary focus at L’Oreal was employment law and celebrity negotiations, when a headhunter reached out to me about a general counsel position at Aerosoles I was intrigued, since it would be a considerable expansion of my areas of responsibility. The more I spoke with the team at Aerosoles, the more interested I became. I like a challenge, so I decided to take a leap into the world of shoes.

When I joined Aerosoles, there was no formal legal department, so the first order of business was to get the best people in place to support the company’s goals and to move forward the vision of our management, in particular our CEO. In a very short time, I was able to bring on board a small legal team that was able to handle Aerosoles’s diverse needs: licensing, corporate governance, customs issues, direct marketing, real estate, litigation management, HR issues, and intellectual property.

Before there was a legal team, Aerosoles relied heavily on outside counsel. One of the immediate goals was to reduce legal fees, and bring as much in-house as possible. A good example of this was the legal department’s responsibility to manage an existing portfolio of leases and to negotiate new ones. By bringing this function in-house and hiring a real-estate lawyer, it enabled us to reduce costs and to work hand-in-hand with the retail division in a more economical and nimble fashion. We were also able to reduce costs for managing our trademark portfolio by bringing an experienced trademark expert into the department. Aerosoles is a lean and dynamic environment, and we wanted the legal department to reflect that in the way that it operates. So, while each individual may have expertise in a specific discipline, they also have responsibility for several areas of the law.

The most important thing we can do as a department is to support the business, work as partners with all of the divisions of the company to ensure that Aerosoles grows, and ensure that the vision of our CEO is properly executed. We want our business partners to see us as helpmates, not as an impediment or roadblock on the way to closing a deal or selling our shoes domestically or internationally. We also want to ensure that we protect the company when necessary and keep it safe from exposure.

I am very excited about the future of Aerosoles, I see us growing internationally and domestically with direct marketing becoming an even bigger presence as well as a continued expansion of our retail stores. Our CEO has often said that our goal at the end of the day is to provide women with comfortable and stylish shoes. The legal department will continue to do everything possible to help him do that. Quote