department thrive under Cooper’s Lean Initiative,
a companywide effort to improve efficiency and to
perform more cost-effectively. Cooper’s Lean Initiative means taking a hard look at the full spectrum
of expenses, from bills for library books to bills for
To curb outside counsel costs, Kline picks firms
and lawyers that know Cooper’s business. He
imposes billing guidelines, which embody an under-
designed to stop problems before they start. He
cites three examples: environmental compliance
training for operations employees, equal employ-
ment opportunity instruction for human resources
personnel and products liability seminars.
The outside firms Kline chooses to handle Cooper’s business include Jones Day; New York’s Weil,
I require a budget line on each matter, litigated or not. It
helps me manage my cash flow.”
standing between Cooper and the outside firm
regarding who will staff a matter, with a careful eye
toward avoiding the use of lawyers who need time
to get up to speed. “I require a budget on each
matter, litigated or not,” Kline said. Monthly billing
reviews are standard practice. “It helps me manage
my budget for outside counsel; it helps me manage
my cash flow,” Kline said.
Past experience is a guide, especially Kline’s
term as general counsel at Aeroquip-Vickers Inc. of
Maumee, Ohio, since acquired by Cleveland-based
Eaton Corp. While at Aeroquip, Kline established a
preventive law program, which involved informing com-
pany management and employees about techniques
Gotshal & Manges; Toledo, Ohio’s Cooper & Walin-
ski; and Miami- based Thornton, Davis & Fein.
years and make partner. Kline moved to Shumaker,
Loop & Kendrick, where he practiced for five years
and was a partner handling corporate, securities
and transactional work.
Aeroquip-Vickers contacted Kline while he was at
Shumaker, and he made the leap to the in-house
world, becoming the company’s general counsel.
It’s somewhat of a natural for business lawyers to
be attracted to an in-house position, Kline said.
Going in-house was an extension of the attitude
he adopted when representing corporate clients. “I
consider myself part of the business team,” Kline
After 11 years, that position ended when Eaton
Corp. acquired his company. Kline sampled some
nonlegal positions, then landed at Cooper on April
15, and had some overlapping transition time with
retired general counsel Richard D. Teeple, who had
held his post for 20 years.
ROUTE TO THE TOP
Like the tire industry, Kline’s roots are in Ohio. He
was born in Fremont, a town of about 20,000 roughly
30 miles outside Toledo. Even in high school, Kline
thought he might like to be a lawyer someday. The
neighbors were lawyers, and they intrigued him.
He graduated from Cleveland’s John Carroll University with a history degree in 1963, then earned
his law degree in 1966 from Ohio State University
College of Law. From there he signed on with the firm
of Eastman & Smith, where he would practice for 17
Kline is married to Mary Ann Kline, and they have
A BOOK AND MOVIE
The King of Torts, by John Grisham, and Chicago.
— LISA STANSKY
An earlier version of this profile appeared in The
National Law Journal on July 21, 2003.