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2020 In-House Counsel Awards: Mary Kate Hogan

Rising Star

General Counsel, Clearent

Mary Kate HoganHelping to broker the sale of one of St. Louis’ fastest-growing companies to its current private equity owner in early 2018 was unquestionably an early-career highlight for M&A attorney Mary Kate Hogan, then a Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner associate of two years.

Little did she know it also would be the start of a professional relationship that, in January, culminated with a career shift: her hiring as general counsel for electronic-payments-processor Clearent.

Hogan is blazing new trails as the Creve Coeur-based company’s first full-time general counsel. She initially became familiar with the firm’s leadership from the outside while she helped to close its subsequent acquisitions of Coolfront Technologies and Compassmax.

“I had no idea at the time,” she said, reflecting on the earlier likelihood of winding up in her current role. “So it was pretty exciting to me when they reached out about the position.”

A St. Louis native, Hogan is a graduate of Nerinx Hall High School, the University of Southern California and NYU School of Law. She remained in New York as a Park Avenue corporate lawyer at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher for more than two years before being drawn back home to join BCLP and be closer to family.

At Clearent, Hogan is a one-woman legal department with responsibilities ranging from general corporate governance and managing claims to contracts and human resources — and true to form, continued oversight of the e-commerce company’s still-growing portfolio of new acquisitions.

“I’m the only lawyer at Clearent, so I get the run of everything,” she said.

Her nominator praised her “ability to work at scale to better suit the needs of her internal clients.”

“Mary Kate has been adding value for Clearent and helping the company achieve great results in specific legal matters for years — long before joining the company as its general counsel,” her nominator wrote. “The company has undergone what can only be described as massive growth in recent years.”

Hogan’s legal role models include a pair of lawyers in the family: Uncle Brian Hogan, who is now retired, practiced in Chicago, while Aunt Mary P. Gorman remains a federal bankruptcy judge for the Central District of Illinois.

“As I was exploring law, I had close mentors who gave me insight into the profession and how to be successful,’’ she said.

Outside of work, Hogan spends her free time taking hikes and reading “Swedish-Norwegian crime noir.” She’s a cabinet member of United Way of Greater St. Louis’ de Tocqueville Society, serving as chair of its young leaders’ branch.

For Hogan, having an active stake in her company’s success while operating from a framework where “all the parties get to a place where everybody wins” are the highlights of a leadership position in an industry where the learning curve is admittedly still high.

“How do you figure out how to create a bigger pie, so that everybody gets what they need?” she said, describing her approach. “That was something that was really attractive about going in-house.”