Head of HSE & Real Estate Law for Crop Science, Bayer U.S.
Molly Shaffer’s path to winning an In-House Counsel Award included a hike along the Inca Trail in Peru.
That’s fitting for someone who majored in environmental studies in college before eventually becoming the head of HSE (health, safety, environment) and, recently, head of U.S. real estate law for crop science at Bayer U.S.
“That was really fun,” said Shaffer of her Inca Trail trek, a highlight for someone who often hikes closer to her St. Louis home. “It’s hard on your knees, and you definitely need walking sticks, but it’s really beautiful and not too long. And Machu Picchu is incredible.”
Since college, Shaffer has compiled an impressive track record covering nearly three decades of legal practice, all powered by a patient perspective she didn’t think she would have had if not for her interest in environmental science.
Her nominator praises her as being “fantastic to work with” and points to her ability to work with colleagues to develop “realistic, grounded and constructive approaches to matters while always staying positive.”
“I think being grounded and realistic stems from the fact that I’ve been doing this for 26 years,” Shaffer said. “I went straight into the environmental studies field before law school. It gave me a lot of perspective I didn’t have [earlier], heading into law school.”
Shaffer, who grew up in Cincinnati, graduated with a double major in biology and environmental studies from Yale University. She said she toyed with the idea of becoming a landscape architect.
“I decided that was a long road that wasn’t going to get me where I wanted to go,” Shaffer said.
So one year after leaving Yale, she headed to law school at the University of Pennsylvania, saying she realized legal work would allow her to pursue her interests while making an impact.
She has done that and more, working for six years at the former Swidler & Berlin firm in Washington, D.C. before landing in St. Louis in 1997 to join Husch & Eppenberger (now Husch Blackwell). From there, she joined Monsanto in 2002 and has been with the company since then, going through the company’s acquisition and a recent addition to become Bayer’s head of U.S. real estate law for crop science.
“I enjoy the real estate work. It gives me a whole lot of variety in the transactions I’m engaged in and I’m enjoying learning something new,” she said.
Shaffer has been involved with all of the company’s transactions involving real estate or environmental liabilities through some major changes in environmental laws, giving her the satisfaction of working as part of a team that involves people outside the legal field on a challenging, complex job.
“I enjoy what I do. I really do like this area of the law, and I like being in-house a whole lot,” she said. “I think when you are enjoying your job, you radiate positivity.”
That positivity shines through when Shaffer talks about her support of charities, particularly her involvement with Boys Hope Girls Hope of St. Louis and JDRF, with which she began working after she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as an adult.
“It has given me a way to contribute to a cause that’s obviously very personal to me,” she said. “It’s a great organization, and I enjoy supporting a lot of nonprofits.”