Home » In-House Counsel Awards » 2020 In-House Counsel Awards: Laura Staley

2020 In-House Counsel Awards: Laura Staley

Private company with more than $500 million in annual revenue

Employment Counsel, Enterprise Holdings Inc.

Laura StaleyLike many other employment attorneys who have faced an avalanche of work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Laura Staley has had no shortage of workplace issues on her plate this year.

The only difference for her is that, as an in-house attorney, she serves just one company: the car-rental giant Enterprise Holdings Inc. As employment counsel for Enterprise, Staley helps the company’s internal clients to manage their litigation claims, and she also provides training and day-to-day advice on human resources matters.

The St. Louis native said she’d thought about becoming a lawyer since she was a child, but in college she became interested in other subjects and majored in psychology. At the end of her undergraduate career, she came to a crossroads: Should she pursue a doctorate degree in psychology, or return to the idea of law school?

“I had to figure out whether I was going to get a Ph.D., which was six years, or go to law school and pursue that dream, and that was only three years,” she said, jokingly referring to law school as “the easy route.”

Staley obtained her law degree from the University of Missouri in 2002. She joined Evans & Dixon, where she handled insurance defense and workers’ compensation matters. After slightly more than a year, she moved to McMahon Berger, marking her first foray into employment law. She worked there for about four years before joining Husch Blackwell predecessor firm Blackwell Sanders.

Staley said she wasn’t looking for opportunities outside of her firm, nor was she looking to go in-house, when the opportunity to join Enterprise dropped in her lap in 2015. A friend she’d known at Blackwell Sanders had moved to the company. He told her about the opening and encouraged her to apply.

She told him she’d think about it. A few days later, he said he hadn’t seen her resume yet. She realized then that he was serious about her applying for the position, she said.

“I wasn’t really looking to leave. I really enjoyed where I was,” she said. “I thought ‘OK, I guess I would be foolish if I didn’t explore it,’ and when I explored it, it seemed like a really fantastic opportunity and a way for me to do something different . . . and expand my professional scope.”

Now, five years later, she’s glad she took the leap.

When asked what she enjoys most about her role, she said the people with whom she works and the company’s unique culture are at the top of her list. She also enjoys learning about its business workings from the inside, she said.

“As outside counsel, you can only dig in so far because you’re not there, but just being ingrained in the business gives you a very different perspective to be able to give more pointed, practical advice,” she said.

In her spare time, Staley enjoys spending time with her family, including her husband and her two children. She said she also is interested in fitness, and she focuses on exercise, diet and nutrition. She is also a board member of the house corporation of her sorority at the University of Missouri.