Ten Things You Need To Know As In-House Counsel

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It’s a nice, cool late October morning, the time of year when the shadows grow darker and longer and “spooky” stuff lurks around every corner.  You’re at your desk sipping some coffee and checking emails when a new one comes in from Sarah, the CIO, marked “Urgent.”  She says that she received a letter from some outfit called the Business Software Alliance asking the company to conduct an audit of its use of “Company X”…
If you’ve been an in-house lawyer long enough you know that one thing as inevitable as taxes, death, and another Fast and the Furious movie is meetings.  Lots and lots of meetings.  Meetings you set, meetings you’re invited to, meetings with the boss, meetings as the boss, status meetings, “kick-off” meetings, post-mortem meetings, meetings with law firms, meetings about all the damn meetings you’re having, meetings… well, you get the point.  Some days you look…
I recently heard from someone I worked with when I was General Counsel of Travelocity.  She was on the business side and worked on a lot of contracts.  She reached out because she remembered an article I had written and posted on the legal department intranet site about “how to read contracts.”  It was something I wrote for the business so they would be better prepared to work with my team on contracts.  Apparently, she…
Well, it’s that time of year again.  Every August for the last several years I have devoted a “Ten Things” blog post to talking about super useful technology for in-house lawyers.  Fortunately, there is always more cool tech to talk about and this year is no different.  That said, if you want to go back and revisit some of the past cool tech blogs click here (2016, 2017, 2018).  The ground…
I have been struggling to write this post about KPIs.  It’s taken way longer than it should have – with several starts and stops.  First, should it be KPI or KPIs?  Just like the debate over RBI and RBIs in baseball, passions run hot on this point.  I think KPIs sounds better so I’m going with that.  Second – and slightly more important than the KPI/KPIs controversy – KPIs don’t work particularly well for in-house…
It used to be that companies selected outside counsel based on things like relationships, reputation, and tickets to sporting events/fancy dinners.  Those days are fading fast, especially beginning around 2008 and the resulting aftermath of the “Great Recession.”  That’s not to say that the above are no longer important (who doesn’t like front row NBA tickets?), but more and more the selection of outside counsel is based on the same principles and processes the company…
[I realized too late after my last post that I have surpassed 100 blogs.  Wow.  No celebration but, to be honest, I never imagined I’d write that many when I started “Ten Things” back in November 2014.  But, here we are, all dressed up and lots of places still to go.  So, thanks for reading and keep those emails and suggestions coming!]   As an in-house lawyer, I was always interested in any legitimate way I…
While general counsel and senior members of a legal department usually spend a significant amount of their time focused on the legal issues facing the company, they rarely give the proper amount of attention to the core feature of the department: the talent.  Without talented individuals, none of the legal work gets done or gets done well.  And the cost of replacing someone who leaves can be dramatic in terms of time-to-hire, expense, and impact…
If there is nirvana for in-house lawyers it is the following: delivering high-quality legal services at lower cost and with better results.  The search for this legal “Eldorado” has gone on for decades with mixed results.  Typically, you can solve part of the equation but only at the cost of other parts.  For example, you can get lower costs but not always higher (or even the same) quality as provided by more expensive firms or…
If you have ever run an in-house legal department, or just been part of one, you know that one constant question is “how are we doing?”  While it appears to be a simple question, it is fraught with multiple meanings.  It could mean how are we doing against the budget?  How are we doing with turning contracts for the business?  How are we doing in the litigation? Or, how are we doing with our compliance…