Because of the coronavirus, grocery shopping in 2020 is a drastically different experience. Behind many of those changes—like masked cashiers behind plexiglass—was likely a series of legal compliance guidance given by someone like Carrie Terraferma ’15, senior corporate counsel and corporate secretary for The Golub Corporation and Price Chopper and Market 32 Supermarkets.
“There are so many things you would not think of when you’re running in for a quick grocery trip,” Terraferma said. “There’s a lot behind the scenes to make sure we are doing what we are supposed to do.”
The Golub Corporation has more than 19,000 employees in 131 stores across six states: New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. Terraferma has to make sure all locations are compliant with their respective state’s laws.
That’s on a regular day.
As the world endures the COVID-19 pandemic, grocery store workers are essential and keeping them safe involves numerous decisions based on each state’s rules and regulations, which change almost daily. And with new requirements for employee safety, nearly all companies in all sectors are looking to acquire personal protective equipment. Securing masks and gloves is a challenge, mixing several areas of business and law.
“The people out on the front lines—our cashiers and those working in the stores—they are doing an amazing job in difficult circumstances,” Terraferma said. “We’ve taken all these steps, but in order to do that, compliance crossed into procurement, and it also impacts the supply chain. We first have to find out what’s even available out there. It’s been interesting to see how these areas are interplaying together.”
Terraferma strengthened her ever-tapped foundation of problem-solving skills during her time at Albany Law School, where she learned to balance a full-time job, a full course load, and family life. With several years as a paralegal with The Golub Corporation and a supportive nudge from her now-mentors—Christine Daniels ’81, who retired as Golub’s senior vice president and general counsel, and William Kenneally, also retired after holding the senior vice president and general counsel role—she made the jump to earn her law degree.
“Albany Law School challenges students daily to develop problem-solving skills which have been invaluable to me as an in-house attorney,” she said. “I was really able to hit the ground running upon graduation.”
The grocery industry has already seen a lot of changes this year and offerings are expected to grow beyond just the basics. In parts of New York State, certain Price Chopper and Market 32 stores have become places for people to receive COVID-19 antibody tests, providing medical professionals and state leaders with important data to combat the virus.
With all the changes comes a series of legal decisions and immense research into regulations, food safety, employment law, and more. As the industry evolves, Terraferma is prepared to take stock of her knowledge and continue to find the best way forward for the company’s employees and customers.
“I have never had the same day twice. The grocery industry itself is so ever-changing—every day brings something new,” she said. “I always get to dig in and research and come up with recommendations to understand the business and figure out how to be legally compliant.”