BENTONVILLE, Ark., Dec. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) today announced the promotion of 17-year company veteran Karen Roberts, 42, to executive vice president and general counsel for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., reporting to Executive Vice President and Corporate Secretary Jeff Gearhart, 48. The appointment is effective Feb. 1, 2013. In her new role, Roberts will manage the legal department, which is responsible for handling all legal matters affecting the company in its domestic and international markets. Gearhart will maintain oversight for the legal function in addition to his newly expanded responsibilities for Walmart's compliance, ethics and investigations teams as part of the company's steps to align the functions and further strengthen its global compliance efforts. "Karen's humility, transparency and collaboration embody the leadership qualities we look for at Walmart," said Gearhart. "She is an extremely talented professional whose integrity, breadth of experience, and knowledge of Walmart make her uniquely qualified for this important role. Karen's legal background and previous responsibilities directing our U.S. compliance and real estate functions provide an important perspective for overseeing the complex legal issues we deal with every day in our business." Roberts is currently executive vice president and president – Walmart Realty for Walmart U.S., where she is responsible for Walmart's real estate operations and a portfolio of close to 1 billion square feet. Prior to that, she was senior vice president and chief compliance officer for Walmart U.S., where she oversaw the establishment of best in class food safety and product safety programs and directed a recycling program that kept more than 80 percent of all waste generated by U.S. operations out of landfills in 2011. Roberts joined Walmart in 1995 and has held various leadership positions that included vice president and general counsel for U.S. real estate and construction.