In-House Interrogatory

Asked: Our weekly question to the In-House community

Which outside counsels reign supreme?

In a survey of 200 in-house counsels at top U.S. Corporations, BTI Consulting Group found the top firms general counsels like to work with as outside counsel.

The list includes:

  1. Jones Day
  2. Mayer Brown
  3. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
  4. McGuireWoods
  5. Seyfarth Shaw
  6. Thompson Hine
  7. Kirkland & Ellis
  8. Faegre Baker Daniels
  9. Baker & McKenzie
  10. Sullivan & Cromwell

So here’s our question for you:

Do you agree with the list? What are the top outside firms you like to work with?

Leave a comment below or email me.

Need to Know:

  • California Public Utilities Commission’s general counsel recused himself from an investigation into a pipeline explosion.
  • A former general counsel for West Virginia was appointed as chief public defender in the state.
  • The former general counsel of the Environmental Protection Agency talks about the president’s position on climate change.
  • Archer Daniels Midland named a new general counsel.
  • The National Labor Relations Board will host a memorial service for its former associate general counsel.

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

In-House Interrogatory

Asked: Our weekly question to the In-House community

IBM’s general counsel Robert Weber is saying he has a list of 10 law firms and 10 attorneys he refuses to hire as outside counsel. He calls it “The List.”

Weber’s turn-offs include: attorneys who ask executives at the company for legal work; firms that violate professional ethics; and firms who send cold pitch letters when a corporation is sued.

So here’s our question for you:

What are deal-breakers for your legal department when seeking outside counsel?

Leave a comment below or email me.

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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

In-house legal departments are getting fed up with paying outside counsel for soft costs like food and photocopying fees, The Wall Street Journal reported this week.

In-house counsel are pushing back against law firms charging them for legal research, photocopying and word processing costs according to a study cited in the article.

Companies’ legal departments argue that these costs are included in law firm overhead and therefore should not be charged to them.

So, here’s our question for you:

Should companies be charged for soft costs like catered lunches and photocopying by outside counsel?

Leave a comment below or email me.

Need to Know:

In-House Interrogatory

Asked: Our weekly question to the In-House community

Ever wonder why general counsel fire outside firms?

A U.K-based market research firm put that question to a couple thousand in-house attorneys in 45 different countries. Out of the top five answers, three centered on the cost-to-value ratio and the other two focused on lack of client maintenance — one, particularly, on client maintenance when a key contact leaves the firm. The top reasons were published in American Lawyer:

• “They were doing a bad job: no results and a lot of invoices.”

• “Poor service. Lots of delay. When challenged, they were completely up front and just said [they] don’t have enough resources, which is pretty astonishing for an international law firm.”

• “It has to do with quality and price. We paid thirty or forty thousand euros, more or less for nothing. So, they had to go.”

•”The main client relationship [partner] left the firm. I find that often when partners leave, those firms neglect to contact clients to say we still want your business and we have signed a new relationship manager. They tend not to correspond with you. Yet the partner who leaves always contacts you from the new firm.”

•”There was a severe lack of relationship between what the bills were and what the value delivered was.”

So, here’s our question for you:

What are the main reasons you would fire outside counsel or have fired outside counsel in the past?

Leave a comment below or email me.

Need to Know:

  • Telecom’s group general counsel quit.
  • More shake-ups in News Corp.’s legal department.
  • The University of California, Irvine School of Law will open an in-house counsel certificate program next summer.
  • The former associate general counsel at GlaxoSmithKline talked about being acquitted of criminal charges last year.
  • Everything’s bigger in Texas: general counsel compensation is up 11 percent in the Lone Star State.
  • General counsels are increasingly sought out by CEOs for advice.
  • Follow us on Twitter for In-House news and discussion: @TDRInHouse
  • Want the latest on who’s been hired, fired or moving and shaking in between? Head to our Movers and Shakers page to find out.
  • For networking events and other happenings this week in Maryland, check out our calendar of events.
  • Get the very latest updates from our law reporters on Twitter: @TDRKristi, @Steve_Lash
  • Check out The Daily Record on Facebook.

In-House Interrogatory

Asked: Our weekly question to the In-House community

The Howard County Public School System has decided to eliminate its in-house legal department.

The school’s new superintendent, Renee A. Foose, will cut two legal positions — a staff attorney and general counsel — effective Monday.

In the future, the school system will rely on outside counsel. When a legal issue arises, a panel of four administrators will review the case and then decide how to deal with it. If the system needs outside counsel, it will send it to an attorney with an expertise in that area.

The school system said the decision will allow it to separate administrative and legal decisions as well as cut costs. The restructure will save the school system $200,000 in initial estimated costs.

So, here’s our question for you:

Do school systems still need in-house legal departments? Or are they better off taking on legal issues as they come and sending the cases to outside counsel?

Leave a comment below or email me.

Need to Know:

  • Chesapeake Energy Corporation named a new general counsel. James R. Webb will replace the company’s former general counsel who was demoted after defending the Oklahoma City-based company’s CEO for questionable loan practices.
  • The drama continues at Yahoo! as its new general counsel gets angry about leaked memos.
  • More procurement managers take over legal spending from in-house departments.
  • Follow us on Twitter for the In-House news and discussion: @TDRInHouse
  • Want the latest on who’s been hired, fired or moving and shaking in between? Head to our Movers and Shakers page to find out.
  • For networking events and other happenings this week in Maryland, check out our calendar of events.
  • Get the very latest updates from our law reporters on Twitter: @TDRKristi, @Steve_Lash
  • Check out The Daily Record on Facebook.