Kirk G. Forrest, Esq
Officer & Secretary
Minerals Technologies Inc.
New York City
Fictional defense attorney Perry Mason first inspired Kirk G. Forrest to pursue a career in law.
The television character’s ability to always establish his client’s innocence by exposing the guilt of another character excited the advocate within the teenage Forrest, who, after receiving an undergraduate degree from Cornell University in 1971 and a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1975, began his career as a litigator.
Today, Forrest is vice president, general counsel, chief compliance officer and secretary of Minerals Technologies Inc., a global company that develops and markets minerals and related products, systems and services.
He is responsible for managing all legal operations worldwide, ensuring the company’s compliance with various regulations, serving as adviser to the board of directors and participating on the company’s leadership council.
“In law, there is a large spectrum of gray or uncharted waters, and giving advice on how to navigate those uncharted waters offers the cerebral challenge that keeps my gray matter functioning,” he says.
Prior to joining MTI, Forrest was vice president and general counsel at Sam’s Club and a corporate vice president of its parent company, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. He has been in private legal practice and served on the legal staff of Mapco Inc., International Paper and Xerox Corp.
“When I got out of law school there was a dearth of women and minorities in law who struggled to be accepted and to show that our legal acumen was just as good as others,” he says.
Today, while the legal profession is far from color blind, “what you bring to the table is more important than what you look like,” Forrest notes.
Young lawyers can advance by developing a network of contacts, choosing a specialty and striving to be the best, he advises. “In the firm or the corporate environment, a specialty is what gets hired, recognized and promoted,” he says.