General Counsel

We are pleased to invite you to a panel and cocktail networking reception in Toronto on September 10th from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Join Bruce MacEwen and select local legal leaders for a discussion of the future of the large law firm business model. Bruce’s trenchant analysis of the challenges facing Biglaw, Growth is Dead: Now What? (affiliate link), is “an extraordinary body of work that reflects enormous insight and ought be required reading by managing partners of law firms,” in the words of Paul Weiss chair Brad Karp. The event promises to take an insightful look at the differences — and similarities — in how U.S. and Canadian law firms are meeting the challenges of the “New Normal.”

The discussion will be followed by a cocktail networking reception. There is no charge for this event. Thanks to our friends at Recommind for sponsoring.

Please RSVP below. We look forward to seeing you in Toronto!

What’s the difference between an ATL commenter and an ATL correspondent?

A commenter writes, “Screw you, Herrmann, and the horse you rode in on. And your wife, and your kids. And your grandma. And your cat.”

A correspondent writes a long, thoughtful email, like the one I received from a reader in Rochester, New York, who read my column, “On Tweedledee And Tweedledum, Esq.,” and accused me overvaluing good writing:

“In litigation, while writing is important, it is not paramount. Just as, or more, important are analyzing law and facts and knowing what claims or defenses to assert. Then developing a strategy for discovery – knowing what documents to ask for, where to search, what questions to ask at deposition – none of which requires much writing at all and certainly not great writing skill. Developing the facts – and developing them in a way to help and not harm your case – is often much more important than writing a great brief. Knowing what issues to dispute in discovery and which to cede is important. Negotiating skills are important. Legal research skills are significant. Then, if a case goes to trial, entirely different skills are needed. Using an example from your column, because a lawyer writes an excellent brief does not mean they know how to properly prepare a witness or question a witness. . . . Someone can write with great style and flair but use bad analysis, miss significant facts or fail to find an important case.”

I have two reactions: First, thanks for writing. And, second, maybe yes and maybe no . . .

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* When it comes to the U.S. Congress — especially the current one, said to be the least productive and least popular in history — and federal lawmaking, “action isn’t the same as accomplishment.” [Boston Globe]

* The Department of Justice won’t seek the death penalty against Edward Snowden, but only because the crime he’s charged with doesn’t carry that kind of punishment as an option. But oh, Eric Holder can wish. [CNN]

* Sorry to burst your bubble, but Biglaw as we know it is on a respirator, so be prepared to recite its last rites. The New Republic’s Noam Scheiber responds to the critics of last week’s hard-hitting piece. [New Republic]

* The grass isn’t greener on the other side right now. Revenue per lawyer rose at Biglaw firms in 2012 (up 8.5 percent), but small firms struggled (with RPL down 8.1 percent). Ouch. [National Law Journal]

* Let me Google that for you: Hot new technology startups have been looking to lawyers who hail from the innovative internet company’s ranks when staffing their own legal departments. [The Recorder]

* If you’re wondering why more financial crimes haven’t been prosecuted since the Wall Street meltdown of 2008, it’s probably because they’re too just difficult for most juries to understand. Comforting. [NPR]

* In a recent interview having to do with all of the problems that law schools are currently facing, from shrinkage to joblessness, Professor Paul Campos sat down to politely say, “Told ya so.” [Denver Post]

We are pleased to invite you to a panel and networking reception in Houston on July 31st from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Above the Law Career Center contributor and founder of Career Infusion Coaching LLC, Katie Slater, will moderate a thought-provoking panel discussion on what it takes to be a successful in-house attorney.

Our panelists include:

  • Beth Walker, VP Business Development at Newhouse + Noblin
  • Michol Ecklund, Assistant General Counsel – International at Marathon Oil
  • Bruce Taten, Former General Counsel at Cooper Industries Ltd.
  • Michelle Grace, Associate General Counsel at Invesco Ltd.

The panel discussion will be followed by a cocktail networking reception. There is no charge for this event. Thanks to our friends at Recommind for sponsoring.

Please RSVP below. We look forward to seeing you in Houston!

We are pleased to invite you to a panel and networking reception in Houston on July 31st from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Above the Law Career Center contributor and founder of Career Infusion Coaching LLC, Katie Slater, will moderate a thought-provoking panel discussion on what it takes to be a successful in-house attorney.

Our panelists include:

  • Beth Walker, VP Business Development at Newhouse + Noblin
  • Michol Ecklund, Assistant General Counsel – International at Marathon Oil
  • Bruce Taten, Former General Counsel at Cooper Industries Ltd.
  • Michelle Grace, Associate General Counsel at Invesco Ltd.

The panel discussion will be followed by a cocktail networking reception. Please RSVP below. We look forward to seeing you in Houston!

GCs did very well for themselves last year.

At our recent Seattle event with in-house counsel — by the way, thanks to all the attendees and to Recommind, our sponsor — I asked the panelists about what they most enjoy about in-house practice. Christi Muoneke of DocuSign and Brad Toney of Classmates Media both discussed the satisfaction they get from working for a single client on interesting issues that call for both legal and business judgment.

Of course, there are many other good things about working as an in-house lawyer (which is why in-house posts are so coveted). Liberation from the billable hour is one big advantage. Healthy pay packages are another.

At junior levels, Biglaw associates who go in-house might take a pay cut (although not necessarily). But many of the top dogs of the in-house world earn amounts that far outstrip average partner pay.

Let’s take a closer look at Corporate Counsel’s recently released rankings of the nation’s best-paid general counsel. Some GCs enjoy pay packages that make Biglaw partners look like paupers….

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Lana Landis: Give her all your money.

* It’s Alito time, bitch! If you were wondering about any of the cases in which the justice recused himself last year, his latest financial disclosure report is quite telling. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Yet another appellate court has ruled that Obama’s recess appointments to the NLRB were unconstitutional. Alright, we get it, just wait for the Supreme Court to rule. [TPM LiveWire]

* Hey baby, nice package: With stock awards soaring, general counsel at some of the world’s largest companies had a great year in 2012 in terms of compensation. [Corporate Counsel]

* NYU professors want Martin Lipton of Wachtell Lipton to swallow a poison pill and step down from the school’s board of trustees over his ties to the University’s unpopular president. [Am Law Daily]

* Now that they’ve stopped acting like the doll they were arguing about in court, MGA has put aside its differences with Orrick to amicably settle a fee dispute in the Bratz case. [National Law Journal]

* Who needs to go on a post-bar vacation when you can take a vacation while you’re studying for the bar? This is apparently a trend right now among recent law school graduates. Lucky! [New York Times]

* A man puts assets into his pin-up wife’s name on advice of counsel, she files for divorce, and the firm allegedly takes her as a client. This obviously happened in Florida. [Daily Business Review (sub. req.)]

* David Schubert, the deputy DA who prosecuted Paris Hilton and Bruno Mars, RIP. [Las Vegas Sun]

* The role of lawyers in America’s Syrian policy. Everyone always tries to throw the lawyers under the bus. [Lawfare]

* Pippa Middleton has some lawyers trying to crack down on a parody Twitter account. Thankfully, the law exists to protect wealthy socialites from being mocked. [IT-Lex]

* GCs are not happy with the rates charged by outside counsel. I, for one, am shocked that GCs don’t like paying upwards of $1000 an hour for “further work.” [Consero]

* Honestly, we should have seen this coming: a Zimmerman juror is seeking a book deal. This is the juror who assumed black people had rioted over the shooting and called Trayvon a “boy of color,” so you can tell the prosecution was doing a bang-up job with its jury selection procedures. [AlterNet]

* Conservatives rejoice after several unions complain about Obamacare. Oh, the irony! Except the unions’ complaint is not that Obamacare is bad, but that it doesn’t go far enough in providing incentives to non-profit insurance plans and penalizing companies that are cutting back on hours to avoid the law. [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* The Top 50 Legal Innovators, Techies, Visionaries, and Leaders: meet this year’s Fastcase 50 (Lat appeared on the inaugural list). [Fastcase via TaxProf Blog]

* After the jump, a short video about Superman and the duty to rescue. I understand that people are miffed that the most recent film version of Superman takes a laissez-faire view of saving lives, but Superman’s always been a dick

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I recently heard the managing partner of a regional law firm say that alternative fee arrangements are like teenage sex: “More of it is being talked about than is actually being done, and the little that’s being done is being done poorly.”

My corporation now uses alternative fee agreements for a large percentage of its work. All of those arrangements have worked out acceptably, and one (which I’ll discuss after the jump) has played out spectacularly. The harder question is this: How does one convince tens of thousands of readers to click through the jump (and “continue reading”) a column about alternative fee arrangements (because clicks through the jump are, after all, the relevant metric to the Above the Law gang)?

I’ve got it! Gin up a riddle, and put the question before the jump and the punch line after. What reader could resist?

So — riddle me this:

What’s the similarity between discussions about alternative fee agreements and elephantine mating?

Both take place on a high level, involve much trumpeting, . . .

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About a year ago, we brought our readers some stats on the Biglaw firms that were representing some of America’s biggest companies. While that information was interesting, it only covered firms that were currently involved in litigation on behalf of Fortune 100 companies, leaving all of the worthy dealmakers out in the cold. To make matters worse, we only knew which firms were in court the most frequently on behalf of corporate clients — we knew nothing about their success rates.

Now, we’ve got a list that general counsel will really be interested in — a list of the Biglaw firms that are the best of the best in terms of client service. Are you sick of your outside counsel giving you the runaround? Are you tired of receiving deliverables that are off the mark?

These are the firms that have been rated the “absolute best” by general counsel…

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