In-House Interrogatory

Board-RoomThough we have written a lot about a general counsel’s growing role in the boardroom, there may be a few roadblocks to the top.

United Biscuits chief executive Martin Glenn says GCs should have business experience outside of their legal knowledge in order to obtain top company leadership positions.

Glenn said he would never make someone a CEO who only had experience in one area and said general counsels should spend more time on the “shop floor” of their companies to see what the business is really about.

Here’s our question for you:

Do you think outside business knowledge is necessary for a GC to rise to the top of a company?

Leave a comment below or email me.

Need to Know:

Follow us on Twitter for In-House news and discussion: @TDRInHouse

Law blog roundup

Welcome to Monday, the 98th anniversary of Baltimore native Babe Ruth’s first major league home run. Here are some news items to get your week started.

– The West, Texas, fertilizer plant was woefully under insured.

– Is there “a fundamental right … to engage in intimate contact“?

– A new book on The Roberts Court will hit stores this week.

– Businesses speak well of the aforementioned court.

In-House Interrogatory

Asked: Our weekly question to the In-House community

Companies are increasingly giving general counsels a larger role (and a larger chunk of money) as they are forced to beef up their legal teams to protect themselves from regulatory and legal risks, The Wall Street Journal reports.

This means GCs take on more of a management role at companies and get paid more. In fact, at some companies, in-house counsel are among the top five paid executives.

According to a report to be released Monday by compensation researcher Equilar Inc., the median pay for general counsel who report directly to chief executives was $1.55 million—more than twice that of those further down the corporate hierarchy, whose median pay was $760,000,” the Journal reported.

General counsels are getting paid more as they work with executives on business goals and map out possible risks for their company.

So, here’s our question for you:

Have general counsels taken on more of an executive position at your company? If so, has their pay increased?

Leave a comment below or email me.

Need to Know:

  • The American Red Cross appointed a new general counsel.
  • Marathon Oil named a executive vice president, general counsel and secretary.
  • Entecom’s general counsel retired.
  • What in-house counsel wants and doesn’t want from outside counsel.
  • The National Labor Relations Board’s Division of Judges disposed of 645 cases in FY 2012, issuing 207 decisions and settling 438 cases.
  • Attorneys for a few Penn State administrators say the university’s former GC violated attorney-client privilege by helping prosecutors build a case against the school’s former VP and athletic director.
  • In-house attorneys say a move in-house is no longer a career downshift.
  • J.P. Morgan revamps its legal team.

In-House Interrogatory

Asked: Our weekly question to the In-House community

The general counsel at the National Labor Relations Board is under fire this week.

General counsel Lafe Solomon participated in talks on the board about Wal-Mart’s social media policy and its legality. The catch? Solomon also held stock in Wal-Mart at the time.

Though Solomon owned only about $18,000 in Wal-Mart stock, the agency’s inspector general is investigating the matter at the urging of Republican members of Congress.

“As a general counsel and career attorney, Mr. Solomon should know federal statute well enough to know when to recuse himself from a possible conflict of interest between his own finances and his work,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) wrote in a news release.

Though Solomon sold the stock at the end of February, he participated in meetings on the Wal-Mart issue in January. Solomon’s defense argues that he received no financial benefit from these dealings.

So, here’s our question for you:

What action should the NLRB take against Solomon? How would your company deal with a situation in which a general counsel had a financial conflict of interest?

Leave a comment below or email me.

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Law blog roundup

That was some power outage over the weekend! But enough about the Orioles. Here are some news items to get your holiday week started.

– Divorce can be a risky business.

– The decision was not a total loss for GOP attorneys general.

– Jobs come and go, but law school lasts forever.

– Policy: Where common sense goes to die.

What are your top stories of the year?

The Daily Record will release next week our list of the top stories of 2011. But before we do, we want to hear from you. What do you think were the top stories of the past year?

If you’re looking for suggestions from us, sorry. We don’t want to influence your choices. Besides, as a loyal reader, you already know the big business and law stories from the past year.

Leave your nominees as a comment on the blog or, if you prefer, send me an email with the subject line “Top stories of 2011.” We need to hear from you by Tuesday; our list will appear in Friday’s paper.

Thanks and happy holidays!

Don’t get me started…

Apologies in advance for the ALL CAPS to come, but I was forwarded a press release that makes me want to SCREAM.

Seems there is a company based in Oklahoma that has created GripeAtMe.com, which is pretty much what it sounds like. You pay money TO YELL at a complete stranger about whatever you want. If you can complain about it, a “complaint specialist” will listen. (Yup, a COMPLAINT SPECIALIST.)

One of their sample calls is from a man who asks why women tend to “get more” in divorce and custody cases. His theory? The women’s liberation movement. Bet they didn’t teach you THAT in law school.

But wait — there’s more! You can also ask the specialist to take the opposite view of yours. That’s right, you can pay to ARGUE with a COMPLETE STRANGER.

The website offers a few suggested subject areas, including culture and “go green” (quotation marks are theirs, not mine).

“Sometimes, it is nice to have someone there just to listen while you decompress about all that life has handed to you,” the site states.

Thanks, but I have those people already. They’re called FRIENDS AND FAMILY. I’d rather spend the $10 on beer with them than calling you.

Top 5: ‘They’ll never have another Christmas together’

Despite the short week last week, The Daily Record’s reporters packed a lot of news into just a few days. Our most-viewed stories included a verdict of a major murder trial, a Newsmakers profile of the University of Baltimore’s law school dean and a story about our Leadership in Law event.

1. Westminster businessman sentenced to 15 months

A Westminster businessman who conspired to steal more than $1 million from the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau over the course of a decade has been sentenced to 15 months in prison.

Wendell “Sonny” Jackson, 60, who was sentenced Friday by U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Blake, also got three years’ probation and must pay $1.14 million in restitution and perform 100 hours of community service.

2. Neurologist sues Hopkins for $25.5M

The neurologist who established the Johns Hopkins Transverse Myelitis Center is suing the university for $25.5 million, claiming it continues to accuse him of unethical behavior despite “overwhelming factual evidence” to the contrary.

Dr. Douglas Kerr, who left Hopkins this year for a private biotech firm in Massachusetts, seeks $500,000 for breach of contract and $5 million each for defamation, interference with contractual relations and three other intentional torts.

3. Tetso sentenced to 18 years for wife’s murder in ‘no-body’ case

A Baltimore County Circuit Court judge handed down an 18-year prison term to Dennis Tetso Tuesday in the death of his wife, Tracey Gardner-Tetso, who has not been seen or heard from since March 6, 2005.

Tetso was convicted of second-degree murder last month and faced a maximum of 30 years in prison, although sentencing guidelines called for a term between 10 and 18 years.

4. 24 take honors for Leadership in Law

U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan K. Gauvey won The Daily Record’s top Leadership in Law award for 2010, honoring her decades of work in public service.

“As all of you know, none of us truly do it alone,” Gauvey said, lavishing praise on the team that surrounds her for taking on her “harebrained ideas.” She gave special mention to her daughter, G-K Gauvey-Kern, and judicial assistant Donna Cowan, both of whom accompanied her to Friday’s ceremony at the BWI Hilton.

5. Phillip J. Closius: Cheerleader and change agent

Philip J. Closius has a reputation of being direct, even blunt. Mention it to him and he quickly gives two responses: “I’m too old.” (He just turned 60.) “Life’s too short.”

Ask him if his manner has ever been a detriment to his career, and the dean of the University of Baltimore School of Law takes only a few seconds longer to respond.

‘Mosquito’ swatted down

A little over a month ago, I wrote a blog post about an anti-loitering device mounted at the top of a Gallery Place Metro station exit in Washington, D.C. The Mosquito was installed in August, funded by local business owners who hoped the high-pitched beeping sound emitted by the machine would drive away teens who have made the 7th Street corridor their hangout.

But the noise is no more. A representative from the National Youth Rights Association filed a complaint with the D.C. Office of Human Rights, alleging that the use of the device amounts to age discrimination. The city requested that the Mosquito be voluntarily removed pending an investigation into NYRA’s allegations. According to the Washington Post, the device has been taken down and there are no plans for re-installation.

Which brings us back to the original issue: What’s to be done about the increasing property crime and violence in Chinatown? It seemed obvious to me that a beeping box was not the answer to such a serious and growing problem, but what, then, is?

Watch the video below to see what people thought about the beeping when the device was in use: