Sam Calagione founded Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Inc. in June 1995 in Rehoboth Beach, Del., as a brew pub called Dogfish Head Brewing & Eats. More than a decade later, the pub remains open, but the company has added a distillery that produces gin, rum and vodka, and a 100,000-square-foot brewery in nearby Milton, Del., that provides 27 states with Dogfish Head beer.
The company is privately held and does not release its revenues. However, according to general counsel Shauna Barnes, the company has grown by 20 percent in recent years in terms of sales. Dogfish has more than 250 employees and, according to Barnes, is "always hiring."
Barnes became Dogfish Head's general counsel in August. Her formal job title is "off-centered general counsel"a concession to a determinedly informal workplace. There had been concern within the company, she said, that bringing a lawyer in-house would mean the death of fun for the other workers; her title had to convey the requisite gravity when she negotiated deals, yet not offend a company culture that emphasized "off-centered ale for off-centered people." Job titles that didn't make the cut included "fun police" and "Dr. Know."
Barnes is the only lawyer within the office of general counsel. She reports to chief operating officer Nick Benz.
Barnes' forte is contracts and alcohol regulation; for other legal matters, she turns to outside counsel, including a team from McDermott Will & Emery's Washington officeMarc Sorini to help iron out distribution agreements with wholesalers and alcohol regulatory issues; Richard Kim to oversee the trademark portfolio; and John Dabney for trademark litigation. She also has developed relationships with a number of lawyers in Wilmington, Del.: Margaret DiBianca of Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor counsels on employment law. Dan McCollom of McCollom Thomas helps with general corporate work. Richard Kirk of Bayard counsels on regulatory work specific to Delaware.
"When we hire outside counsel, it's important that they're great at what they do, but it's also important for us that their personality matches with Dogfish," Barnes said.
Barnes spends most of her day working on alcohol regulatory work. At the close of each workday, she prepares a "to do" list to tackle first thing the next morning. She's lucky, she said, if she gets to No. 1she's often greeted at her desk by co-workers waiting to ask a licensing question or about a contract.
As for a typical day, "it's a lot of what pops up that day, while moving forward with some more of my long-term projects."
One long-standing project was a negotiation with lawyers representing the Grateful Dead for a collaboration brew called "American Beauty." The project is part of a series inspired by particular musicians and their music. Never mind the Dead's hippie vibe and bootleg-friendly ethos"That was a negotiation," Barnes said. "They've got some great lawyers on their side."
The rest of her work involves applying her legal skills and educating herself. "There is still a lot to learn, and I still lean on outside counsel," she said. "I am not so full of myself that I don't know my limitations. I certainly know my limitations, and will call out for help."