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In-House Counsel: Ivan Fong

That any uncertainty exists as to whether Ivan Fong’s current position as senior vice president of legal affairs and general counsel of Maplewood-based 3M is his most impressive role to date is a testament to the strength of his CV.
“Growing up in a small Maryland town, I never imagined I’d be sitting here today as a top executive at a global technology company like 3M,” said Fong.
A chemical engineer by training – he earned a master’s degree from MIT before his Stanford Law School J.D. – Fong cut his teeth as a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Following a partnership at the D.C. office of Covington & Burling LLP, he served for three years as a deputy associate attorney general under U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, then capped about a decade of increasingly senior inside counsel roles as chief legal officer and secretary at Columbus-based Cardinal Health. In 2009, Fong returned to D.C. once more to serve as general counsel for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
At 3M, Fong supervises about 590 employees, including some 261 attorneys in 39 countries and distinct compliance, global security, and government affairs teams. In 2015, 3M’s law department landed on Corporate Counsel magazine’s Best Legal Departments of the Year list. In 2015 and 2017, it made the Financial Times’ Most Innovative In-House Legal Teams lists. The National Law Journal named Fong one of America’s 20 Most Influential General Counsel in 2009.
But it’s Fong’s apparently heartfelt commitment to pro bono work that sets him and his department apart.
3M’s law department “strongly supports pro bono work as a unique way for legal professionals to serve their communities,” said Fong. “Pro bono work is one of the most rewarding things I’ve done as a lawyer.”
Fong, a member of the Corporate Advisory Board for the Pro Bono Institute, permits 3M attorneys and support personnel to pursue pro bono projects during business hours as a part of 3M’s 15 percent culture. In 2017, the department logged more than 3,000 hours of volunteer legal work. Under Fong, 3M committed to fund an Equal Justice Works fellowship, with three fellows to date serving vulnerable veteran and immigrant populations.

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