“Oh, oh, oh, O’Reilly!”
Anyone who grew up in the Midwest knows the O’Reilly Auto Parts jingle, an upbeat song that now represents 4,935 stores in 47 states and more than 75,000 employees.
Though the company has grown from a single store opened in Springfield in 1957, the culture hasn’t changed, according to Jeffrey Groves, senior vice president of legal and general counsel.
“It’s a great company,” he said.
Groves is a Missouri native who grew up in Eldon, a small city just north of Lake of the Ozarks. Becoming an attorney wasn’t a lifelong goal.
“I did not really know what I wanted to do,” Groves said.
Ultimately, he settled on the law. Groves attended the University of Missouri for both his undergraduate work and law school.
Fresh out of law school, he moved to Springfield and began practicing at Daniel Clampett Powell & Cunningham. While there, he focused primarily on litigation, doing defense work as a trial attorney.
After Daniel Clampett dissolved in 2001, Groves worked at Shughart Thomson, now Polsinelli, before eventually making the transition to becoming in-house counsel for O’Reilly Auto Parts in 2004.
“It only took me three days to give up billable hours,” Groves said, chuckling.
Groves said his background allowed him to analyze risk and see issues of the corporate realm from a different perspective.
His position also had him learning new practice areas. O’Reilly Auto Parts is a publicly traded company, meaning that Groves has to be up on SEC regulations, and handling mergers and acquisitions, among other things.
Recent history has been no different, O’Reilly’s move into California has required Groves to deal with “strict and intense” regulation, he said.
“They regulate companies there as a means of taxation,” he said.
Though it may seem like it would be good for young attorneys to get as much of a head start on the varied work of an in-house counsel as soon they can, Groves doesn’t think so.
“I wouldn’t recommend to any young lawyer that they start in-house,” he said.
He does recommend that those who are hoping to become corporate counsel focus on finance and business in school.
When not engrossed in his work at O’Reilly, Groves serves as an adjunct law professor at Webster and Missouri State universities, teaching securities law and administrative law courses, respectively.
Groves lives in Springfield with his wife, Penni, formerly general counsel for Missouri State, and their three daughters.