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2020 In-House Counsel Awards: Nancy Inman

Private company with more than $500 million in annual revenue

General Counsel, ARCO Construction Co.

Nancy InmanDifferent products require different strategies and priorities.

Nancy Inman thrives in the professional environment created by her employer, ARCO Construction Co., which serves clients for multiple types of projects — aviation, distribution-warehouse, health care, industrial, multifamily, office, retail, self-storage and others — including the popular Topgolf venues.

Inman earned her law degree from the University of Missouri, where she was a member of the Law Review. As an attorney at Spencer Fane, she centered her practice on real estate, construction and loan transactions, and she became a partner of the firm.

When she and her husband adopted two daughters — now ages 25 and 22 — from China, she scaled back her legal career for a time before joining ARCO in 2003. Since then, the company has grown from a $250 million to a $3.5 billion enterprise.

At first, Inman was its only in-house attorney. Today, she leads a 12-person team in assisting 25 separate office locations in the United States and Canada with their legal needs.

The in-house legal team manages all corporate legal matters and claims for the company, negotiates all contracts and keeps the operations teams updated and trained in risk management, understanding contracts and other business strategies.

“I enjoy working with other lawyers and being part of a team that solves problems,” Inman said. “When I’m negotiating a contract, the goal is to really understand what the parties intend and to make sure everybody wins.”

Inman said she will be the first to recognize and thank members of her in-house legal team for their outstanding response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Together, they assisted with difficult reorganization matters and completed an environmental protocol for ARCO to use on all projects, she said.

“Nobody does it by themselves,” she said. “I have an amazing team that makes me look good. My paralegal knows more about our work than I could ever hope to know.”

Inman leads the company’s risk management committee, composed of various business unit leaders, in assessing and developing strategies across the entire enterprise. She also serves as the liaison who drives collaboration between its human resources, safety, finance, IT and operations departments. With the help of the IT team, she introduced a variety of technology resources, including a new document-management and workflow-management platform.

If she hadn’t gone into law, Inman said, she would have pursued a career that involved “anything with music.” During the pandemic, she learned to play the ukulele. She sings with Sweet Adelines International, the world’s largest women’s singing organization.

Inman also serves on the American Bar Association Construction Law Forum and is a member of the University of Missouri Law School Foundation Board of Trustees. She also has volunteered with the court-appointed special advocate program in St. Louis.

Her in-house counsel career rewards her every day with a new appreciation for the work she does and the people who work with her, Inman said.

“I continue to appreciate the quality team I work with,” she said. “This is a relationship-based business where real money is spent to get things right. It is my privilege to work with people who intend to do the right thing for our clients and their communities.”