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Mara Garcia Kaplan
Mara Garcia Kaplan

In-House Counsel 2021: Mara Garcia Kaplan

Like many newly minted lawyers, Mara Garcia Kaplan started out doing firm work. After graduation from William Mitchell College of Law, she worked at several firms. But at Faegre Drinker, then known as Faegre & Benson, Kaplan realized she was missing something: being close to the business.

“Target was one of my clients, and when they had an opportunity, I jumped at the chance,” she said. Kaplan joined Target in 2010 to support Target’s financial and retail services. Later, she led the legal department’s mergers and acquisitions function. In addition to her M&A role, she later became general legal counsel for Dermstore, a subsidiary of Target that Kaplan helped acquire.

Today, she is vice president and senior counsel of Wells Fargo, where she partners with corporate development on the company’s M&A strategy. She provides legal counsel and guidance for strategic initiatives like acquisitions, divestitures, and minority investments.

While Kaplan has been involved in many projects as in-house counsel, the sale of Target’s pharmacies to CVS stands out. “I call that one a marriage rather than a separation because typically, after the closing of a divestiture, the parties part ways,” she said. “In this transaction, the parties became partners for the foreseeable future.”

The deal was an unusual one for both parties. “It was a large transaction, with a level of risk to which Target was not accustomed,” Kaplan said.

Kaplan has been active in various bar associations, including serving as the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association’s president in 2010, and later becoming regional president for the Hispanic National Bar Association. She now serves on a newly created advisory board for Wells Fargo’s Legal Department Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council. “I’m passionate about equality issues,” Kaplan said. “I believe we will have a much better law practice and better results once we have a level playing field.”

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