Name: Keyna Skeffington
Title: Senior Vice President & General Counsel
Firm Background: Keyna was an associate and partner in the firm’s corporate group in the Minneapolis office from 1996 – 2004.
Keyna Skeffington took her first international trip when she was just shy of two years old to attend the wedding of her aunt and namesake in Ireland. It would be the first of many trips to Ireland, but none of her family could have foreseen that 55 years later she would be advising the board of a $28 billion Irish company and making quarterly trips to Ireland. Indeed, Keyna couldn’t have imagined that after Faegre Drinker, her passion for helping her clients solve problems would take her on an international adventure!
Growing up in the suburbs of Minneapolis, Keyna had no intention of returning to Minnesota after college. She studied international relations and Russian at Mount Holyoke College, then spent three years as a paralegal in a large New York firm to explore her interest in the legal profession. The experience drew her to the unique challenges of corporate law.
“Being a paralegal broadened my knowledge about what law could be and what you could do,” Keyna said. “Being a corporate lawyer is all about helping people achieve results through developing strategy and navigating the applicable laws and regulations. I was really drawn to it.”
After graduating from Tulane University Law School, Keyna’s parents made a compelling argument for her return to Minnesota.
“My parents kept telling me, ‘if you're interested in international law, you really should move back to the Twin Cities, where many Fortune 500 companies have headquarters’” Keyna said. She decided to give a legal career in Minnesota a chance and convinced her New Jersey fiancée to do the same.
After a few years at another Minneapolis-area firm, Keyna joined the Faegre & Benson team. In her eight years with the firm, she became a partner; helped to launch the first Women, Wine and Wardrobe event; and made lifelong friends with colleagues.
Keyna’s next step took her to the medical device company Medtronic, a Minnesota corporation listed on the New York Stock Exchange — beginning as lead securities counsel and then becoming Vice President overseeing securities compliance, corporate governance, M&A, equity compensation, tax, IT and all indirect sourcing contracts. In 2015, Medtronic merged with Covidien, an Irish company, and became an Irish plc requiring Keyna to learn about Irish corporate and tax law and their impact on an NYSE-listed company.
In 2017, Keyna took her knowledge and experience outside of the United States. Her familiarity with the Irish Companies Act and the Irish Tax Code set her up for the transition to senior vice president and general counsel at LivaNova, a $1 billion medical device manufacturer listed on Nasdaq and based in the United Kingdom — with corporate and tax laws similar to those of Ireland. In addition to the Legal team, Keyna also leads the Ethics & Integrity, Privacy and Risk teams. She is now based in London, and she’s finding the change quite agreeable.
“Working at LivaNova has been a wonderful opportunity. We have a knowledgeable and dedicated group of employees in our three primary businesses and a mission-driven and problem-solving culture. I also love being able to walk to work”. Keyna said. “My favorite thing about living in London is the ability to experience great theater. We've seen Maggie Smith in a one-woman play, Daniel Radcliffe, Mark Rylance and Nicola Walker in other plays. Next up is to see Vanessa Redgrave in My Fair Lady. I’ve also become a ‘football’ fan following the Tottenham Spurs.”
Reflecting on her time in firms compared to her in-house roles, Keyna notes there are benefits to both sides. While working in a firm gave her plenty of colleagues with varied areas of focus to brainstorm ideas and solutions, she didn’t always get the opportunity to see the results of her advice to her clients. Being in-house allows Keyna the chance to see each project from start to finish.
“I think you're able to be more efficient in providing legal advice because you engage with the business 24/7 and you are aware of external and internal factors at play,” she said. “You know what the short- and long-term business objectives are and what is best for the company.”
Keyna and her husband love to travel, and she’s excited to continue exploring Europe now that COVID restrictions have been lifted. She is just back from a wine tasting excursion with friends in Burgundy, including two Faegre alums, Marit Zosel and Julie Chosy.
With a career full of rich experiences, Keyna said this is the advice she would share with her younger self:
“When you’ve been a lawyer for 30 years, you still don't have all the answers and continue to learn through experiences and developing new skills. As an associate, you might think that a 30-year lawyer has all the answers and that you can’t provide any meaningful insights, but that is definitely not the case. Fresh perspectives and interpretation are really important and the cornerstone of good lawyering. The most important advice that I’d give my younger self is that your career likely will not develop in the way that you originally envisioned it. The path to where you will be at the end of your career likely will not be the straight line you imagined, so embrace each opportunity and learn from it.”