As one of the law school’s earliest graduates, Heather Bush (JD ’99) sometimes marvels at where her law degree has taken her. A member of Chapman University School of Law’s second graduating class, she moved to Florida after law school and began her job search. She landed a position in construction defect defense, where she worked as a litigator for the next six years while building the foundation for a tremendously successful career.
Now, nearly two decades later, she leads a team as Vice President, General Counsel, and Compliance Officer for the North America Operating Group of Bureau Veritas, a global leader in testing, inspection and certification (TIC). The company delivers high quality services to help clients meet the growing challenges of quality, safety, environmental protection and social responsibility. Bureau Veritas encompasses eight businesses worldwide, with 1,400 offices and laboratories in 140 countries. “It has been an amazing journey,” Bush said. “Never in a million years did I expect to be hired to manage litigation for a multi-billion dollar company, let alone become its North American General Counsel.”
Bush believes the foundation she received at Chapman prepared her well, and she appreciates the personal approach Chapman took in developing its students – a hallmark of the law school that continues to this day. “Here I am 20 years later and I can still rattle off my professors’ names,” she said. “That’s a testament to how inspirational and connected the faculty is. Those experiences have absolutely made me a better lawyer.”
She also points to foundational training she received at Chapman, including the critical art of listening and a collaborative approach to work. “I think I have a very unique perspective because the law school was so new that students and faculty were really working together to build the institution,” she said. That team approach has carried through her career. “I’ve always been about being collaborative,” she said. “I knew I couldn’t be a subject matter expert in everything , so I have always surrounded myself with a bright team.”
These days, she enjoys her expanded role overseeing litigation, risk management, compliance, employment law issues, real estate, QHSE , among other areas for the company’s North American Operating Group. “It’s hard to say I miss working in litigation full time, but I do enjoy getting to dabble in it once in a while,” she said. Bush oversees a team of six, explaining that her team, in essence, provides customer service to the firm’s business partners. She believes that not portraying her office as strictly a legal department has garnered more respect – and success – from her business colleagues.