For Love of the Game
Chris Guiton didn’t grow up wanting to be a lawyer. “I wanted to be an athlete,” he recalls. During his time at Haverford College, Chris played basketball and baseball. After coaching both sports at the college level for a year after graduating, Chris’s passion for hoops took him overseas, where he played basketball for the Cardiff Clippers in Wales.
One Door Opens
After returning home from playing basketball, Chris gave a lot of thought to his next move and the kind of career he’d like to pursue. He decided that law would open the most doors to challenging and fun work. Chris attended Temple University’s Beasley School of Law and graduated with his J.D. in 2002. While there, he took part in the Temple Law Review.
While at Temple, Chris researched most of the larger law firm employers in the Philadelphia area to figure out where he could see himself upon graduation. He ultimately decided on Drinker Biddle because it was known for its high quality of work and respect for work-life balance. These were qualities that Chris felt really set the firm apart.
As an associate at Drinker Biddle, Chris learned a great deal, including the importance of being able to see the forest for the trees. He took this valuable lesson with him and still incorporates it into his work on a daily basis. “I make sure I give sufficient background to outside counsel so they can fully understand the scope of whatever it is we’re working on,” he said, emphasizing that doing so can both educate and inspire them.
“I think it’s important to surround yourself with different perspectives and viewpoints,” said Chris, sharing another key lesson he learned while at Drinker Biddle and at subsequent companies. He explained that while it’s important to work with people that share similar core values, it’s also critical that new and fresh perspectives are always part of any discussion as they can help improve the way things have been done in the past or provide an entirely new approach that is more effective and efficient.
Chris also expressed the need be “your authentic self at work,” and let that shine through in your interactions in the workplace. He explained that doing so can help people better connect with their employer and colleagues: “Not only does it bring better results, it can deepen relationships that may help your career trajectory as well.”
Making a Move
Prior to working at Drinker Biddle, Chris had very little understanding of what it might be like to practice law in-house. Having the opportunity to work with numerous pharmaceutical clients at Drinker Biddle changed his perspective and opened Chris’ eyes to the type of work and challenging and fulfilling projects in-house lawyers face on a daily basis. The idea of being part of an organization, being in the “driver seat” and having a critical role in certain decisions that would affect the future of the organization (whether having to do with a major piece of litigation or whether or not the marketing for a new pharmaceutical product meets all applicable rules and regulations) was really appealing to him, so Chris pursued a role in-house and after almost three years with the firm, he joined Cephalon, a U.S. biopharmaceutical company now owned by Teva Pharmaceuticals, as Regulatory Counsel.
Johnson & Johnson
After a little over two years at Cephalon, Chris left for a position with Johnson & Johnson, where he’s worked for more than a decade. Chris was an Assistant General Counsel handling regulatory matters for the company’s pharmaceutical businesses from the time he joined in 2007 through March of this year when he assumed the position of Senior Director, U.S. State Government Affairs within the company’s government affairs and global policy group. In this role, Chris is leading the operations, engagement, and communication with state and local government officials in New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware for all of the company’s various sectors and businesses, with a focus on New Jersey where the company is headquartered. Chris is enjoying his new cross-sector role which has afforded him the chance to support a variety of company initiatives rather than focus primarily on legal matters as well as the opportunity to really learn and understand the current political landscape. The position has presented new challenges and interesting, thought-provoking work that he is taking head-on. Chris was honored to take on his new position and even happier he gets to work for an organization he really believes in.
New Goals and Perspectives
In addition to the impressive work Chris accomplishes at his day job, he also is a published author of two books, A Shot at Happy, and Go For Broke, as well as a screenplay. “I love writing,” said Chris but finding the time to write can be challenging between the demands of work and juggling activities for three kids under the age of ten. Like himself, Chris’ children are extremely active and he spends most of his spare time with his wife playing or watching sports with the family. Despite his lack of free time, in the coming year Chris is determined to finish a third book he has started and, if he can stay healthy, run a marathon.
As the proud father of three children, he’s gained a greater appreciation of people and the art of patience. “I have a lot more patience for different personalities because I’m a father of three very strong-minded kids. These differences are what make us beautiful,” said Chris. He sees these differences in the cultural backgrounds of those he works with, as well as their unique perspectives on a variety of topics. He realizes that, “this is a big reason why I’m happy to work for Johnson & Johnson. We have such a wonderfully diverse culture, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”