Katie Clevenger, Legal Counsel, North America, USA

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Years with AD


What attracted you to your chosen work? 
I have been interested in the law for as long as I can remember, but as a younger person, that interest was on a mostly abstract level. I found philosophical issues raised by consideration of law and social justice to be fascinating. There were many people, events, and circumstances that contributed to me becoming a lawyer, but on a very basic level, my interest in those concepts as well as in political justice and civil rights was what started me down a very meandering path towards that end.

What skills did you develop early that are still useful today?
I started working in the service industry when I was 15, and continued to work as a bartender through college and law school. During those years I interacted with people whose life experiences were much different than mine. That type of work taught me a lot about humility, empathy, the human condition, social standards, and the value of hard work. As a lawyer, it’s important to hear what your clients and co-workers are telling you, and to understand and appreciate their perspectives, even if those perspectives are wildly different from your own. Those early experiences really formed the basis for how I treat the people I work with today.


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How have you grown in your career at Avery Dennison?
I started at Avery Dennison over 8 years ago as a contract administrator responsible for our Label and Graphic Materials (LGM) North America business. At first, my work was limited to reviewing contracts and non-disclosure agreements. Over the years, I tried to learn as much as I could about the business by building relationships with internal clients in order to better understand their respective roles and functions. I knew this would make me more of an asset to my team. I felt like I was successful in this regard when internal clients began to come to me for help with matters unrelated to contracts or NDAs.


As a result, the scope of my responsibilities within the law department expanded somewhat informally. Then, in April of this year, I was promoted to Legal Counsel, North America, my current role.


What role has mentorship played in your career?
A huge role. I graduated from law school in 2006. At the time, I wasn’t particularly interested in taking the bar exam or becoming a lawyer. A few months after graduation, I landed a job that required a law degree, but not a license to practice law. I was mostly content. Seven years later, I started at Avery Dennison in a similar role with a similar attitude. After a while, my attitude changed. It was inspiring to work with attorneys who were passionate about what they did. It motivated me to do better. In 2019, Ken Schwartz, who I reported up to at the time, encouraged me to take the Ohio bar exam. There is zero chance that I would have had the motivation or the confidence to do this had he not brought it up. Without his support (and the support of our entire team at the time), I would not be where I am today.



These opportunities and the level of trust, support and guidance that I’ve received from my manager and law department leadership are all things I am incredibly grateful for.


What’s the best career decision you’ve ever made?
While at Avery Dennison, I received a great job offer from another company. I was somewhat torn, but ultimately decided not to take it. Since then, I’ve been given a number of opportunities to develop my skills and gain experience in areas of the law that are completely new to me. These opportunities and the level of trust, support and guidance that I’ve received from my manager and law department leadership are all things I am incredibly grateful for.


As you think about the next steps in your career, what are the most important actions you plan to take?
As a relatively new lawyer, I’m focused on developing skills in areas of the law that are outside my comfort zone. Also, staying connected to the evolution of our business so that I can provide relevant advice and guidance.


What do you enjoy most about the work you do?
I love to read. I will happily read almost anything I can get my hands on, even things that most people would find mind-numbingly boring. I like the quiet and solitude that comes along with it, too. At the same time, I also like interacting with and getting to know people. My work at Avery Dennison allows me to have the best of both worlds. My job involves a lot of reading, but it also gives me the opportunity to connect with people on a daily basis.


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