Christin Lumpkin is just as ready to provide a business solution to a problem as she is legal advice. “The best general counsels are true business partners looking for solutions that advance the business while balancing the legal risk,” she says. “The point is to help the business achieve its goals.” As in-house counsel with Global Payments, Inc., and now as General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Reibus International, Inc., Christin has been finding workable solutions for business partners for her entire career.
Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Christin’s father was a Professor at Belmont University, while her mother served as the publisher of two medical publications. She spent the majority of her high school years in Palm Desert, California, and then returned to the South to attend Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.
She majored in English Literature with a minor in Business at Samford, and then went straight to law school at Vanderbilt University where she served as the Senior Notes Editor of the Vanderbilt Law Review. “I really enjoyed law school,” she says, “it was very collegial – not the more typical cut-throat environment you usually hear about.” Working as a summer associate for Troutman Sanders after her first year at Vanderbilt, she was a summer associate for both King & Spalding and Troutman Sanders after her second year, later accepting a job as an associate in the corporate group at King & Spalding in the fall of 2000.
“Working at King & Spalding was a great experience for me,” she says. “I was trained by some of the best lawyers in the business, and got the opportunity to work on really interesting transactions. As time progressed, I began to work closer with clients like Home Depot, UPS and Coca-Cola and found that I enjoyed working with the business side more than anything else,” she says.
In 2005, Christin left the firm to accept a job as Senior Attorney at Global Payments. Working her way through the ranks, she was lead counsel for all world-wide M&A activity and also led the legal team for the Merchant Solutions business. “I worked on over 30 transactions, and researched countless others,” she says, “and was very involved in the subsequent integration of those businesses.”
Following her promotion to Executive Vice President and Assistant General Counsel of Global Payments in early 2022, Christin left to be the General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Reibus International just over one year ago. Reibus is a global, B2B online marketplace for industrial metals. “The company utilizes technology to solve ingrained supply chain problems,” Christin says. “I joined the company because I felt it was a great opportunity for me to work in an entrepreneurial, high growth environment.”
“Becoming a General Counsel was something that I had always wanted to do,” she says, “and becoming a part of the executive leadership team was something I really valued.” Today, Christin deals with everything, including credit agreements, employment issues, compliance matters, corporate governance, and a variety of other areas of the business. “By working closely with the business side, I can see potential problems sooner and we can usually deal with them before they become larger issues.”
Creating strong relationships with the business teams early on, and not being the lawyer who shows up at the last minute to say “no,” is embedded in Christin’s DNA. “My goal is to help build a best in class organization with strong collaboration between the legal and business teams. In-house attorneys who can’t build those relationships often have a harder time achieving their objectives, and the business can suffer.”
“I’ve been very lucky to have great business co-workers at every job I’ve had, and I’m grateful to continue to have those relationships. It is always gratifying when the business teams appreciate your guidance and you achieve something together, and I have learned so much from incredible business colleagues over the years,” she says. Christin’s ability to keep calm, provide practical solutions and keep a sense of humor throughout have frequently been complimented. “Even during tense negotiations, it’s important to keep your cool and stay focused on the ultimate goal. A corporate law professor at Vanderbilt told us not to be “bug crushers”, and I’ve never forgotten that. You don’t have to win every single point to get a great result.”
Being courteous, even when having to be firm, is important to Christin. “I always make it a point to be as pleasant as possible with the other side. It’s a small world and you never know when you’ll run into someone again,” she says. “They can end up being your next colleague, client, or even your boss.”
As General Counsel of Reibus, Christin finds that there are some differences from her previous role. “There’s a big difference between reporting to a CEO and reporting to a General Counsel,” she says. “The business team needs help and answers quickly. There is generally no room for perfection. If you aren’t comfortable giving advice or making a decision with only 80% (or sometimes less) of the information, you will have a difficult time.”
As a leader, Christin is not a micromanager and much prefers to find how she can best support those who are working for her. “That’s the approach that I’ve always found worked best with teams I was supporting,” she says. “As the head of a team, my job is to mentor and provide advice when needed, but mostly it’s to get out of their way and make sure they have all the resources they need to be successful.”
Christin hopes to be someone with whom people enjoy working. “While I can’t always please everyone, and my advice may be that we need to pivot in a different direction, it’s important that the business comes to me and my team for guidance.” “Gaining the trust of your business colleagues is key”, she says. “When people know you are there to try and help them get the best result possible, they are more likely to come to you and get you involved earlier on. When that starts happening, that’s when you know you are doing something right.”