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2022 In-House Counsel Awards: Justin Relihan

Nidec Motor Holdings Corporation (Americas)

Justin RelihanInspired by the example of his grandfather who was also an attorney, Justin Relihan had a good role model to follow when he decided to pursue a legal career.

“I always gravitated to the law as I grew up,” noted the 47-year-old Iowa City, Iowa native.

And he always saw himself as a litigator, working first for a Chicago defense firm before coming to St. Louis to join Brown & James and, later, the predecessor of Husch Blackwell.

His current career at Nidec began in 2011 as a corporate counsel. Today, Relihan is vice-president of legal services, which effectively makes him general counsel for the company’s American operations, a position he obtained in 2017.

“I enjoy the law,” said the John Marshall Law School graduate. “I enjoy helping clients and working with businesses in creating new and innovative products.”

He also appreciates the variety afforded by his work at Nidec.

“Nothing is ever the same,” he said. “I could be involved in a large litigation. I could be involved in mergers and acquisitions. I could be involved in trade compliance work with import/export and duties and tariffs or assisting on a patent matter. That’s the best thing about my day. I never know what it is going to be.”

Likewise, his nominator said that Relihan has impressed his peers with his ability to dispense sage guidance.

“As a global manufacturer, Nidec faced significant challenges during the COVID pandemic,” they wrote. “Justin advised senior management on health and safety, regulatory and supply chain issues. He has implemented innovative strategies for reducing business risks during the pandemic which was also a time of rapid growth for the company.”

Relihan finds in-house work to be appealing since it lets him manage the concerns of a single client.

“I enjoy being able to take the time to learn the business, learn the products, learn the people and not be so focused on either billing hours or resolving a matter,” he notes. “I’m involved and invested in how our products do in the market.”

Relihan, who said he’s watched his department grow from five people to 53 in just a few years, feels that the best resolutions often come from being able to handle things outside of a courtroom without the trouble and expense that a trial might bring.

“I’ve enjoyed finding resolutions to disputes with our customers without resorting to litigation,” he said.