The overarching goal for any in-house counsel is usually to become the head of legal. The general counsel position is one many in-house lawyers work toward for the bulk of their career, gradually proving over time that they’re up to the challenge. Amy Farris Wolfe made it there before she was old enough to legally run for president.
It’s fitting for the daughter of a lawyer who served as deputy general counsel for Verizon (her uncle was also the First Assistant Prosecutor for the Morris County Prosecutor’s office in New Jersey). Farris Wolfe says she’s known her whole life that she wanted to be a lawyer.
The thirty-year-old general counsel of Aurobindo Pharma USA Inc.—the US arm of India-based Aurobindo Pharma Limited, a pharmaceutical manufacturing company—has had an eventful year. She got married in 2021, including a reception at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, where the tall ceilings and state-of-the-art air filtration system designed for art preservation were ideal for a small get-together in the COVID era. Her legal team helped close three massive deals, two the day before 2022 and one the Monday after New Year’s Day. And to top it off, Farris Wolfe was named general counsel in January 2022.
“I really haven’t had time to fully come to terms with it,” she says. “Our previous GC moved on to a new role, and it was so unexpected that I don’t think I’ve really had the chance to think about what this all means yet with respect to my future. I try to maintain lofty goals, but this really wasn’t on my horizon for the near future.”
Farris Wolfe came to Aurobindo in February 2020, just a month before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Almost immediately, she helped launch the first product of her career: Hemady (dexamethasone) with Aurobindo’s branded subsidiary Acrotech Biopharma LLC.
With the supply chain in disarray across every industry, Farris Wolfe says, there was the challenge of helping patients adjust to a new medication when continuity with any medication was uncertain.
“You were also asking people to transition to something new at a time where almost any communication they were receiving was about COVID,” she says. “It was an eye-opening experience, and while it was difficult, the whole process was still fascinating, and we prevailed.”
Farris Wolfe has been heavily invested in transactional work as well. The lawyer helped Aurobindo divest its US subsidiary Natrol, a nutritional supplement company, to an affiliate of New Mountain Capital for $550 million. She’s also instrumental in the acquisition and in-licensing of new products.
“These deals have helped us diversify our asset portfolio,” Farris Wolfe says. “Aurobindo is always looking to increase its global footprint, so we’re very dedicated to continuing to do what we can to employ vertical integration and get creative development-wise with how we can bring affordable and quality products to patients.”
That creativity in research and development is essential for Aurobindo’s generics companies, whose goal is to reduce the cost of drugs for its patients. “You’re trying to mitigate and cut as much fat as you can to make sure costs aren’t getting passed on to customers,” she explains. “That means working to streamline processes and working with all of the business units as much as we can to drive peak efficiency.”
It’s clear why Farris Wolfe hasn’t had time to reflect on the achievement of being named general counsel at the age of thirty: there’s too much going on in too many different business lines for her to be doing any victory laps just yet.
For those looking to emulate her, Farris Wolfe urges new lawyers to get big firm experience as early as possible. “I realize that’s easier said than done,” she says. “But big firms are essentially boot camps for lawyers and provide a sense of urgency and work product that is unmatched. I can guarantee you that your business stakeholders will really appreciate that sense of urgency when you go in-house.”
Furthermore, Farris Wolfe says, litigation provides the chance to be exposed to a wide variety of subject matter. The lawyer built out experience in the toxic tort group at Duane Morris, which eventually led into complex litigation and then transactional licensing work.
“If you decide to go in-house, you need to do everything you can to learn about the product portfolio and truly understand what your business does, or else you won’t be able to serve your client,” she says. “If you don’t truly understand the business, you can’t help the client achieve their goals and you won’t be able to thoroughly understand how to calculate risk.”
Currently, Farris Wolfe says, her main concern is helping Aurobindo achieve its goals. “The company is heading in a really great direction, and I’m so happy to be along for the ride,” she says.
KLDiscovery congratulates Amy Farris Wolfe for this well-deserved recognition as Aurobindo’s General Counsel. We are proud to be a long-standing partner of Aurobindo, providing eDiscovery, forensic, and specialized data solutions. Through our proprietary software, Nebula, KLDiscovery delivers technology-enabled discovery solutions to help law firms and corporations solve complex data challenges.