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Litigation, regulatory issues occupy Atlas general counsel

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Working at a shipping company wasn't exactly what a lawyer in Evansville saw herself doing when she graduated from law school at the University of Missouri - Kansas City in 1978.

But more than 30 years after graduation, Marian Weilert Sauvey said she loves her job as general counsel to Atlas World Group Inc. with a world headquarters in Evansville, plus offices in New Jersey, Seattle, St. Louis, Denver, and Oakville, Ontario.

She oversees all legal concerns that involve the corporation and its subsidiaries. She is a senior vice president and secretary of the company and is responsible for the human resources, training, and customer service departments. She also manages Atlas World-Class Travel Inc.

She started with the company in 1993 and had two other jobs prior to joining Atlas. First she was an associate and then a partner with the firm then known as Smith Gill Fisher & Butts in Kansas City and later worked as corporate counsel for Schneider National Inc. in Green Bay, Wis.

Atlas Van Lines Inc., the flagship of Atlas World Group, is the second largest household goods carrier in the country, she said. The Canadian subsidiary is the largest household goods mover in Canada. Atlas also has a number of other subsidiaries, including companies that do international moving, logistics, containerized moving, and a relocation company, she said.

For the more than 600 employees at Atlas World Group, the legal department consists of two. And from 1993 until 2000, Sauvey was the only attorney.

"We do almost everything that walks in the door except family law and criminal law," Sauvey said.

While she may be joking a little, she deals with regulatory changes; issues such as retirement plans and benefits for employees; contracts; financing; trademark; and litigation for bodily injury or claims related to damaged cargo, "which doesn't happen too often," she said.

She handles most of the legal work in house but will hire outside counsel for litigation and international issues that may arise with the Canadian branch of Atlas Van Lines.

"In Canada they have different privacy regulations than here, which makes it interesting to get involved in those kinds of things," she said.

Because what she needs is such a specialized area of the law and lawsuits can happen around the country for her company, she'll go to attorneys who belong to national legal organizations such as the Trucking Industry Defense Association, she said.

She's also a member of the Transportation Lawyers Association, the Conference of Freight Counsel, the Canadian Transport Lawyers Association, and the American Moving and Storage Association Legal Advisory Council.

"There's a real difference between an accident that involves a car and a car and one that involves a truck and a car," she said.

One of the challenges she faces in her work is keeping up with everyone who works for the company.

"We do business through our agents so we have ... drivers who work for Atlas as independent contractors or they are leased to us by the agents they work for," she said. "The sales people who work with the customers are not our employees. So we have to figure out how to keep all these people we have a contractual obligation with moving in the same way, and that they're all doing things the right way."

To keep things moving, she said there is an element of education and training to keep everyone up to speed.

Some things can change fairly quickly, such as how many hours interstate drivers can drive. Litigation can also have an effect on those restrictions. There are also regulations that impact consumers when it comes to household goods.

Chris Wood at Adams Holcomb, a boutique law firm in Washington, D.C., has worked with Sauvey for a few years as outside counsel on litigation.

"While I'm supposed to be the learned outside counsel, I find that more of the time she's teaching me as opposed to me giving her advice. She makes sure I'm on my game," he said.

"She bubbles with ideas, legal arguments, ways to examine the facts. She's one of the most dedicated lawyers I've met. ... I think she internalizes these things, and feels that it's her job to do what's best for the company. ... She is an activist and very hands on in a productive fashion," he said.

As for what she likes about the job, "I enjoy the diversity of it," Sauvey said. "One minute I'm working on helping a customer, and I do get calls from customers. The next hour I'm working on a huge multi-million dollar financing deal. No two days are ever the same."

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  1. Some are above the law in Indiana. Some lined up with Lodges have controlled power in the state since the 1920s when the Klan ruled Indiana. Consider the comments at this post and note the international h.q. in Indianapolis. http://www.theindianalawyer.com/human-trafficking-rising-in-indiana/PARAMS/article/42468. Brave journalists need to take this child torturing, above the law and antimarriage cult on just like The Globe courageously took on Cardinal Law. Are there any brave Hoosier journalists?

  2. I am nearing 66 years old..... I have no interest in contacting anyone. All I need to have is a nationality....a REAL Birthday...... the place U was born...... my soul will never be at peace. I have lived my life without identity.... if anyone can help me please contact me.

  3. This is the dissent discussed in the comment below. See comments on that story for an amazing discussion of likely judicial corruption of some kind, the rejection of the rule of law at the very least. http://www.theindianalawyer.com/justices-deny-transfer-to-child-custody-case/PARAMS/article/42774#comment

  4. That means much to me, thank you. My own communion, to which I came in my 30's from a protestant evangelical background, refuses to so affirm me, the Bishop's courtiers all saying, when it matters, that they defer to the state, and trust that the state would not be wrong as to me. (LIttle did I know that is the most common modernist catholic position on the state -- at least when the state acts consistent with the philosophy of the democrat party). I asked my RCC pastor to stand with me before the Examiners after they demanded that I disavow God's law on the record .... he refused, saying the Bishop would not allow it. I filed all of my file in the open in federal court so the Bishop's men could see what had been done ... they refused to look. (But the 7th Cir and federal judge Theresa Springmann gave me the honor of admission after so reading, even though ISC had denied me, rendering me a very rare bird). Such affirmation from a fellow believer as you have done here has been rare for me, and that dearth of solidarity, and the economic pain visited upon my wife and five children, have been the hardest part of the struggle. They did indeed banish me, for life, and so, in substance did the the Diocese, which treated me like a pariah, but thanks to this ezine ... and this is simply amazing to me .... because of this ezine I am not silenced. This ezine allowing us to speak to the corruption that the former chief "justice" left behind, yet embedded in his systems when he retired ... the openness to discuss that corruption (like that revealed in the recent whistleblowing dissent by courageous Justice David and fresh breath of air Chief Justice Rush,) is a great example of the First Amendment at work. I will not be silenced as long as this tree falling in the wood can be heard. The Hoosier Judiciary has deep seated problems, generational corruption, ideological corruption. Many cases demonstrate this. It must be spotlighted. The corrupted system has no hold on me now, none. I have survived their best shots. It is now my time to not be silent. To the Glory of God, and for the good of man's law. (It almost always works that way as to the true law, as I explained the bar examiners -- who refused to follow even their own statutory law and violated core organic law when banishing me for life -- actually revealing themselves to be lawless.)

  5. to answer your questions, you would still be practicing law and its very sad because we need lawyers like you to stand up for the little guy who have no voice. You probably were a threat to them and they didnt know how to handle the truth and did not want anyone to "rock the boat" so instead of allowing you to keep praticing they banished you, silenced you , the cowards that they are.

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