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In-House Counsel: Austin Bly

Austin Bly was very familiar with St. Michael-based U.S. Water prior to becoming its in-house counsel. He should have been – the company was founded by his father, Allan Bly, 21 years ago.
“I worked there long before I had a law degree,” said Austin Bly. “As the company has grown, I’ve worked in different capacities, starting as a marketing intern in 2010.”
Bly has his hands full in handling the legal affairs with the company, which provides water treatment services to the biofuels, power generation, oil and gas, and health care industries. Over the years, he has built a new contract review process for the company; trained a new HR team on employment-related risk and compliance issues; managed incorporation of a foreign subsidiary; and provided ongoing support to various business units for regulatory and contract compliance.
“The only things I don’t deal with are governance issues,” he said. “We use outside counsel for that.”
Bly’s favorite part of the job is dealing with restrictive covenants and noncompete agreements.
“Water treatment is a highly competitive industry,” he said. “That work piques the nerdy side of my brain.”
The recent $270 million sale of U.S. Water to Japanese Water treatment giant Kurita will mean even fewer dull moments for Bly as the company navigates foreign ownership.
“U.S. Water has gone through lots of changes over the years – this is its third sale,” he said. “I’m confident the company will be OK whichever direction we go.”

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