In-House Interrogatory

Ever wanted to rent a general counsel?

RENTWell, now you can. Starting this week a Massachusetts company called Daily General Counsel will dispatch in-house counsel to start-ups to give legal advice for a day.

An in-house attorney’s services for eight hours will cost $1,500.

The company’s model will not work for all start-up companies, like those embroiled in long-term litigation who need a more permanent attorney in-house. But others need legal help that can be accomplished in a day, like drawing up partnership agreements and sales contracts, making sure human resources policies follow the law and making a plan to negotiate a lease.

Here’s our question for you:

What do you think of this new company? Do you think its business model will be successful?

Leave a comment below or email me.

Need to Know:

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

In-House Interrogatory

mediationIn-House Interrogatory will be mediating a discussion on mediation this week.

According to an article in Corporate Counsel, preparation is an in-house counsel’s best defense.

The article recommends to review jury instructions, determine applicable statutes and case law and review third parties and insurers before even scheduling a mediation.

The article also recommends obtaining an initial written discovery, records, depositions of major players, contracts, photos, reports, and third party investigations before going into a mediation.

Here’s our question for you:

What is the best way to prepare for a mediation?

Leave a comment below or email me.

Need to Know:

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

In-House Interrogatory

For general counsels, it’s always business. Not personal.

Godfather_puppetmasterOr so Tom Hagen, the adviser to The Godfather in the film trilogy, would say.

Attorney Daniel Doktori, who is an associate in the emerging companies practice at WilmerHale in New York City, said in an article that the role of general counsel at a start-up company is much like the role of consigliere, the position made famous by Hagan, played by Robert Duvall, in The Godfather film series.

“Being general counsel is like being Tom Hagen in The Godfather – you’re a Consigliere,” said a New York City lawyer quoted in the article. “You need to understand where the founders are coming from – the sacrifices they had to go through to build their business.”

Doktori says start-ups hire attorneys who will be able to fit into the company culture of taking risks.

Here’s our question for you:

Do you agree with this philosophy? Is your job equatable to the (legal) version of the Corleone family’s consigliere?

Leave a comment below or email me.

Need to Know:

  • A lawsuit seeking to remove Jacksonville’s general counsel from office has been dropped.
  • Deutsche Bank names a new co-deputy general counsel for Germany.
  • Halliburton’s general counsel retired and the company filled the position at the beginning of the year.
  • A former Air Force general counsel was appointed as Homeland Security secretary.

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

In-House Interrogatory

Legal education is blending with the in-house world up North.

Boston University

Boston University School of Law is running a program that joins local companies with law school graduates interested in in-house work.

The program, which is in its second year, has six spots open and so far 70 have applied. The companies, National Grid, EMC Corp., ING and Digital Credit Union pay $50,000 plus benefits.

Here’s our question for you:

Do you think this is a good idea for in-house legal education and has your company ever considered a similar program?

Leave a comment below or email me.

Need to Know:

  • A former White House attorney was held liable in the beating of his ex-wife.
  • Autozone named a general counsel.
  • Abercrombie & Fitch named a new general counsel.
  • TSB Bank has appointed the former general counsel for the U.S. Post Office as its new legal head.
  • TV Guide Network named a new general counsel.
  • Angus Fire hired a new general counsel.

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

In-House Interrogatory

Womens-Bathroom-SignsThe in-house legal department: Is it a woman’s world?

Canadian female GCs are saying that the not-so collegial atmosphere at law firms has caused them to take jobs with in-house legal departments at corporations.

Retired partner Kirby Chown and executive search consultant Carrie Mandel, the authors of  ”Breaking Though: Tales from the Top Canadian Women General Counsel,” found female attorneys are better represented in Canada’s top 500 public companies than at private law firms.

For the newly-released book, the authors interviewed 32 female GCs. They also crunched some numbers and found that 27 percent of the general counsel at Canada’s top 500 public companies were women, while women made up just 20 percent of the partners in private practice.

While collegiality ranked high among the women the authors spoke to, working for a company rather than a law firm can have some other perks – e.g., more predictable hours and no real need for rainmaking. So, here’s our question for you:

Why did you choose to go in-house, and what makes you stay?

Leave a comment below or email me.

Need to Know:

  • A former Google deputy general counsel will run the U.S. Patent Office.
  • Scientific Games named a new general counsel.
  • Two thirds of GCs feel worse about the economy.
  • American Express named an interim general counsel during a company reshuffling.
  • The chief counsel in Kellogg’s Europe, the Middle East and Africa division is headed to Archer Daniels Midland.
  • Liberty Property Trust named a new general counsel.

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

In-House Interrogatory

How can in-house counsel ensure they are handling insurance claims properly?

An article in Corporate Counsel details when general counsels should call outside insurance coverage counsel. Most in-house counsel end up with routine claims on their desk, but the article suggests they bring in outside help in some circumstances. Examples include:

  • Environmental claims
  • Wrongful death or injury claims involving asbestos or drug
  • Construction defect claims
  • Business interruption claims
  • Professional liability claims
  • Directors and officers claims
  • When coverage is denied 

Here’s our question for you:

Under what circumstances would you bring in outside help on an insurance claim?

Leave a comment below or email me.

Need to Know:

  • The White House’s general counsel was slated to leave at the end of the year, but has agreed to stay until spring.
  • In-house lawyers with out-of-state licenses can now do pro bono work in New York.
  • Abercrombie & Fitch’s general counsel has gone back to the law firm he worked at before joining the clothing company.
  • Facebook’s former general counsel is joining a venture capital firm.

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

In-House Interrogatory

tourA former general counsel has found a new calling.

Jack Friedman, who worked for telecommunications and financial companies for 30 years, was laid off at the beginning of the recession in 2008.

When he couldn’t find another job in the tumultuous legal industry, he started giving student tours in East Coast cities. He now works for about seven different tour companies and travels to major hubs like Philadelphia, New York and Boston for three to five-day tours.

He says his skills as a lawyer prepared him for the job — talking in front of groups of people, answering questions and, yes, settling disputes during a trip

Here’s our question for you:

What job would you love to do if you were no longer working in the legal industry?

Leave a comment below or email me.

Need to Know:

  • American Express’ general counsel quit after 20 years to join a New York law firm.
  • The former general counsel of a Utah Indian tribe was sentenced to prison for stealing from the tribe.
  • In more Utah news, the state’s governor has named a new general counsel.
  • Rutgers University’s general counsel will recuse himself from investigations into bullying allegations against a former assistant football coach.

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

In-House Interrogatory

billable-hoursThe billable hour is not dead.

At least according to a panel of corporate counsels in Missouri.

A group of general counsels discussed their jobs and challenges in the legal industry at a Missouri Lawyers Weekly event in St. Louis. The five-member panel mostly agreed that paying by the hour was still the preferred method.

“I don’t feel anybody has really figured it out,” said Jan Alonzo, general counsel of transportation company UniGroup Inc. “The times I’ve been involved with it, it’s really been a failure.”

Here’s our question for you:

As a general counsel in Maryland, do you also prefer the billable hour?

Leave a comment below or email me.

Need to Know:

  • Last week we told you CBS Corp.’s general counsel is retiring, and now we know Dell Inc.’s general counsel is filling the position.
  • Top in-house counsel are raking in even more cash.
  • National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Richard Griffin is prepared to file a lawsuit against Wal-Mart.
  • The University of West Florida’s general counsel was fired for failing to pass the Florida Bar.
  • General counsels’ favorite law firm is Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP.

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

In-House Interrogatory

MERGETo merge or not to merge. That is the question.

The Wall Street Journal talked to general counsels at big companies about what they think about BigLaw firms merging to form even bigger megafirms.

Most were not convinced.

Some told the WSJ that the “consolidation craze leaves them cold” and others stressed that they hire based on individual reputation, not the size of the firm.  Other in-house counsels said bigger is not always better and that large firms sometimes decrease efficiency and increase legal bills.

Here’s our question for you:

As a general counsel, what do you think of large firms merging into even larger firms?

Leave a comment below or email me.

Need to Know:

  • CBS Corp.’s general counsel is retiring.
  • Edinburgh University will appoint its first head of legal services.
  • Less than half of Chinese lawyers have voting power on their companies’ boards.
  • Lloyds Banking Group’s in-house legal department is undergoing changes.
  • HM Revenue & Customs has appointed a new general counsel.

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

In-House Interrogatory

chapterone-writing-a-bookTime Inc.’s associate general counsel has written a novel.

Helen Wan’s novel, “The Partner Track,”  is about a woman who struggles with race and gender issues while trying to succeed in the legal industry. 

Wan said she intended for the book to be an “unvarnished” glimpse of the legal world and says it addresses diversity in the work place.

Here’s our question for you:

Have you ever thought about writing a book based on your career as a general counsel? If so, what would it be about?

Leave a comment below or email me.

Need to Know:

  • The Royal Shakespeare Company has a new general counsel.
  • Time Warner named a new deputy general counsel.
  • Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s former general counsel and chief of staff heads back to Saul Ewing.
  • Rally Software hired a new general counsel.
  • HM Revenue & Customs’ general counsel is retiring.

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