In-House Interrogatory

PINNOCHIOAsked: Our weekly question to the In-House community

As a general counsel, it’s important to always let your conscience be your guide, or so says an article in Corporate Counsel.

Attorney David Peterson, the former premier of Ontario, says a general counsel should be like the conscience of a company, just as Jiminy Cricket was for Pinocchio:

I understand the difficulties in the real world. But how is capitalism going to save itself? How do we do the right thing? Whose job is it? . . . Increasingly a smart CEO is going to have a really smart general counsel as part of the team, who always reminds people of their responsibilities.

Here’s our question for you:

How does a general counsel act as the conscience of his or her company?

Leave a comment below or email me.

Need to Know:

  • Vail Resorts’ general counsel resigned.
  • The University of Wisconsin-Madison named an attorney to lead its legal team.
  • FORMA Therapeutics named a new general counsel.
  • The hole gets a little deeper for Penn State’s former 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

This week, we take a look at in-house life on the other side of the world.

An increasing number of Japanese lawyers are heading in-house, The Global Legal Post reports. There are now 770 Japanese attorneys working in-house compared to 64 ten years ago, according to the Japan Federation of Bar Associations.

Some experts said the rise was a result of companies wanting to save money on outside counsel in the wake of economic troubles following the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Others said it was simply because the number of attorneys in Japan has risen exponentially in recent years. Since 2005, 12,000 new attorneys have joined the job pool.

So here’s our question for you:

Does it make sense for a company to hire in-house counsel during trying economic times following a natural disaster like Japan’s?

Leave a comment below or email me.

Need to Know:

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

In-House Interrogatory

Asked: Our weekly question to the In-House community

This week we are talking about employees bringing their own devices (smartphone, tablet) to work and how company legal departments regulate their use.

With people constantly on-the-go at work, it makes sense for them to have mobile devices. But how does a company manage that?

According to Inside Counsel,  companies approach the device issue in different ways:

For example, some companies let employees use their existing personal devices for work with varying agreements for payment of monthly Internet charges. Others give employees stipends to purchase the devices they want. Some do both. Another approach is buying employees’ personal devices for a token amount and agreeing to sell them back at the same price when employees leave the company.

Some companies install mobile device management software on phones to give employers control over the device. The article says employers should have their employees sign an agreement that states the company’s right to monitor and protect data on the devices.

So, here’s our question for you:

Does your legal department have a plan in place for employees’ mobile devices? And, if so, how have you decided to approach the issue?

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.

NCAA can’t protect innocent from penalties

One of the arguments being advanced against the NCAA penalties on Penn State for its action and inaction related to the Sandusky crimes is that athletes, coaches and administrators who had nothing to do with the transgressions will be unfairly punished.

This is a point heard time and again about any penalties meted out by the NCAA. It’s the nature of college sports that the bad actors are often long gone by the time the NCAA finishes investigating rules violations.

For example, football coach Pete Carroll and star running back Reggie Bush had moved on to the NFL before the NCAA penalized the University of Southern California for violations that occurred when both were at USC. (Carroll has denied any involvement in “extra benefits” for Bush, who has not admitted he broke NCAA rules.)

The problem with this argument is that, taken to its logical conclusion, the NCAA could almost never punish anyone. Sanctions nearly always hit another set of athletes who weren’t even around when the violations happened. There’s often a new coach, because the rule-breaking cost the old one his job. And if enough bad stuff has happened, there may be a new set of athletic department administrators, too.

Criticize the NCAA all you want — and there is plenty to pick at — but if it’s going to be charged with enforcing rules, it’s an unfortunate byproduct of the system that a new group will pay for the sins of its predecessors.

In-House Interrogatory

Asked: Our weekly question to the In-House community

The deputy general counsel at Verizon Wireless is taking the reverse commute and moving to a job at a law firm after spending 24 years in-house. John Thorne started at Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel PLLC in Washington, D.C., this week.

Thorne was involved in a lot of high-profile antitrust cases while he was with Verizon and said he chose to take the job at the law firm because wanted “to do new things.”

So, here’s our question for you:

What are the top reasons an in-house attorney would move out-of-house when many do the opposite — move in-house after many years at a law firm?

Leave a comment below or email me.

Need to Know:

In-House Interrogatory

Asked: Our weekly question to the In-House community

The most talked about general counsel in the news in the last week was, of course, former Penn State general counsel Cynthia Baldwin.

Former FBI Director Louis Freeh compiled a report after investigating the university’s handling of Jerry Sandusky. When the report was released last week, Baldwin was repeatedly mentioned for not dealing with the situation correctly.

Sandusky was convicted and jailed on 45 counts of abusing boys and is awaiting sentencing.

Baldwin served as the interim general counsel from January 2010 until June 30. Freeh criticizes Baldwin for downplaying the grand jury investigation into Sandusky to the university’s board of trustees. The report also says she failed to find an expert for the university’s internal investigation or to lead it through the criminal investigation.

The report singles Baldwin out for attending the testimony of Senior Vice President Gary Schultz and Athletic Director Tim Curley during the grand jury investigation. Baldwin said she attended simply to represent the university, but Schultz and Curley thought she was there as their attorney.

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Law blog roundup

It was the best times and the worst of times in the law blog round-up this Monday. Though, it was mostly just the worst of times if you are a current or incoming law school student – or if you are Jerry Sandusky.

– The U.S. Attorney from Maryland has been tapped to investigate the national security leaks the country has been abuzz about since last week. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. named Rod J. Rosenstein and his counterpart in Washington, D.C.,Ronald C. Machen Jr., to head the investigation committee.

– Things aren’t looking good for a Boston criminal defense attorney found guilty on seven counts of money laundering.

– Attorneys made opening statements this morning in the trial of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who is accused of sexually abusing 10 boys.

– At least ten law schools around the country are cutting enrollment numbers this fall.

– And in case that was not discouraging enough, job numbers for the law school Class of 2012 are at an 18-year low.

– In brighter news, at least you weren’t these girls caught unawares (and unclothed) at University of Maryland, College Park this weekend.

Top 5: ‘…floating a trial balloon which we felt compelled to pop’

Paul E. Schurick was found guilty in the election robocall case this week, and a UMUC professor won a large settlement in a discrimination case. Those stories and more in this week’s legal affairs top 5.

1. Jury finds Schurick guilty on all 4 counts – by Steve Lash

A Baltimore jury convicted Paul E. Schurick on conspiring and attempting to sabotage Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley’s re-election last fall with Election Day 2010 robocalls telling Democrats in the city and Prince George’s County that victory was at hand and they did not have to go to the polls.

Schurick, 55, faces up to 12 years in prison on the four counts. Judge Lawrence Fletcher-Hill set sentencing for Feb. 16 in Baltimore City Circuit Court.

2. UMUC professor gets $430K settlement in discrimination case – by Danielle Ulman

Maryland’s Board of Estimates approved a $430,000 settlement Wednesday with a man who said his supervisors at the University of Maryland University College discriminated against him because of his heritage.

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