The Top Takeaways from the 2024 Consumer Brands CPG Legal Forum

The CPG Legal Forum is growing by leaps and bounds since its relaunch last year. That tells me that the need for connectivity and learning on the critical issues of the day and what’s next is similarly growing. This year’s sold-out event in Rancho Palos Verdes, California convened the best and brightest lawyers in our industry to be inspired by incredible keynote speakers and to explore the landscape of legal issues from product claims and litigation to corporate governance and risk management.

Over a packed 48 hours together, a few themes stood out:

CPG lawyers must be agile in a business-never-as-usual environment: Our industry’s lawyers balance wide-ranging portfolios, and this year, attendees got insights on how to build and maintain legal hygiene, with strong structures and processes over issues like litigation, cyber and privacy, emerging technologies (like AI), product safety, and ESG. Keynote speaker Rachel Brand, Chief Legal Officer of Walmart, underscored that CPG lawyers must be open to constant adaption and knowledge-building, whether navigating ever-changing regulatory and political environments or structuring programs to meet new legal and environmental standards. General counsels must also devote time to strengthening company culture and ensuring their workforces are valued and heard.

Authenticity and empathy are profound tools for the CPG advocate: In a rousing keynote, Neal Katyal, former Acting U.S. Solicitor General, reminded attendees that a lawyer’s connection to her audience is the foundation for advocacy, whether that audience is a colleague, CEO, opposing counsel, regulator – or nine Supreme Court justices. His remarks also underscored that even the best advocates experience a range of outcomes from thrilling wins to crushing losses. A devotion to strong preparation, empathy and resilience are critical tools for persuading with authenticity and achieving success.

The challenges are mounting in number and complexity — a united CPG industry is up for the challenge: CPG company lawyers face a range of challenges like chemicals management (Acetylenes to Zirconium and everything in between, like PFAS), safeguarding consumer data, federal and state agency compliance dynamics, mounting ESG scrutiny and continued creativity from the plaintiff’s bar. The successful CPG lawyer needs to be intelligent and agile – and, in my view, part of a community that is united to take on the biggest issues we face collectively. Consumer Brands is honored to play a convening role for the industry through the CPG Legal Forum and serve as the leading advocate for CPG.

Our team thoroughly enjoyed hosting this year’s event and is already excited for next year. The 2025 CPG Legal Forum will be held at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort — an oceanfront oasis surrounded by shimmering bay waters and the San Diego skyline. As you mark your calendars to save the date, please complete a quick survey about your experience. We value your feedback and look forward to hearing what we got right, what to change, and how we can make next year’s event even better.

Please also stay in touch on legal affairs engagement opportunities with Consumer Brands and reach out to me or Joseph Aquilina with any ideas or recommendations.