Barbara Eisenberg ’70

The Perfect Fit

Winter 2010

When a Chinese manufacturer began producing and selling non–Ann Taylor clothing under the Ann Taylor brand name, Barbara Eisenberg ’70 knew she had to go on the offensive. What would be clearly illegal in the U.S. was perfectly legitimate behavior in China. But as general counsel for the women’s apparel powerhouse, Eisenberg had to find a solution. After six long years, she did.

In July, Eisenberg and her legal team secured a deal in which the American apparel company acquired the Ann Taylor trademark in China. “It was certainly challenging from a legal perspective, but the cultural differences made the negotiations even
more so,” Eisenberg says. “We’re thrilled that we have the name where it belongs.
It’s back home.”

Trademark protection is just one of Eisenberg’s myriad responsibilities, which include counseling Ann Taylor’s senior management and board, as well as staying ahead of dynamic challenges to minimize risks. In addition, she is also responsible for the company’s green initiatives and its social compliance programs. “I think it’s key in today’s complex, global world that lawyers focus on the integrity and long-term success of the company,” says Eisenberg.

Her success validates the choice she made years ago to abandon the partner track at a law firm. “It was at the stage where you start to say, ‘Is this what I want to do with the rest of my life?’” Eisenberg recalls. She realized her future was in blending business and law, and she launched her in-house career, which, she says with a smile, “is where the fun is.”