Photo of Katina Thornock

Katina Thornock

Class of 2001

Director, Corporate Counsel Starbucks Coffee Company

Katina Thornock grew up in Seattle, so she has a hometown fondness for Starbucks, even though the company is now an international powerhouse. Working in Washington, D.C. for a few years after college, she used to go to Starbucks for her coffee “because it reminded me of home.”

So when she came to Seattle University School of Law for her legal education, she was thrilled to see the coffee company on a list of legal internship opportunities.

"I found an internship at Starbucks the summer after my 1L year and stayed on part-time through the school year," she said. "I enjoyed the spirit of the company and its mission. I had a unique opportunity to see what practicing law might look like."

A 2001 graduate of the law school, Thornock is now a director within the Law and Corporate Affairs department of the coffee company. She is responsible for overseeing tort, commercial and ADA litigation on behalf of Starbucks in North America. She also advises internal business units, including the company’s Partner and Asset Protection, Risk Management, Store Development and Supply Chain Operations departments.

Working as an attorney in a corporate setting enables a lawyer to truly engage with one client who you get to know intimately and can ultimately serve better, Thornock said. "You really become a business partner," she said. "This is still a growth company, and I’m constantly working to assist them in meeting business goals while at the same time helping to manage overall risk."

Before Starbucks, Thornock followed a more traditional route. She began her career in the Prosecuting Attorney’s Offices of King and Pierce counties, where she guided misdemeanor and felony prosecutions through trial. She then moved to private practice, working at the Reed McClure law firm and then Cozen O’Connor where she focused on insurance coverage, bad faith, premises liability, products liability and commercial litigation.

"My career path has prepared me for just about anything," she said. So the time seemed right for a return to the green Siren of Starbucks in 2009.

Though her work is fast-paced and challenging, Thornock said there are distinct advantages to a less traditional legal career.

"It's good to think outside the box," she said. And as a mother of three young sons, she said her job allows her the flexibility she needs to achieve that all important work-life balance and enables her to regularly draw upon the skills developed throughout the course of her legal career in creative ways.