In-House Counsel

This oil law job is rigged.

This FT/LT oil law job is rigged.

* Will we have a nominee for Attorney General Eric Holder’s position “shortly after the election”? Per a White House spokesperson, our lame-duck Congress might just get a chance to confirm America’s next top lawyer. [WSJ Law Blog]

* In the wake of an associate general counsel’s suicide last week, Deutsche Bank has taken steps to further separate its legal and compliance teams to tamp down on its “legal and regulatory headaches.” Well then. [Corporate Counsel]

* David Tresch, Mayer Brown’s former chief information officer, was sentenced to 27 months in prison for his role in bilking the firm out of $4.8 million. Hey, it could’ve been worse, says his lawyer, whose client got off relatively easily. [Am Law Daily]

* Thanks to the rise of the “energy phenomenon,” law schools have started to offer various classes focusing on oil and gas law in the hopes of making their graduates employable. Good luck with that. [Times Online]

* If you plan to retake the LSAT, you need to study smarter. Don’t sweat it too much, though — it’s not like you’ve got a lot of competition trying to apply to law school. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

HiResThe New York Legal Marketing Association hosted its annual General Counsel Forum last week, featuring three prominent GCs from major New York industries: Jason Greenblatt of The Trump Organization, Ed Holmes of AIG Investments, and Scott Univer of the accounting firm WeiserMazars. Aric Press, editor in chief of American Lawyer Media, served as moderator.

Obviously, the industries and firms of all three GC panelists were rocked by the “dark, demanding and sleep-disturbing downturn in recent years,” and this forum — titled “What Keeps You Up At Night?” — was meant to provide them a chance to share their experiences and concerns with the packed house at the NYSSA. The conversation was a lively and wide-ranging one, covering such topics as reputation management, legal risk across multiple jurisdictions, the increasingly complex regulatory environment, and, most of all, how frustrating it is to deal with clueless law firms (and what the firms might do to alleviate this). Here are some highlights:

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dartboard pen on target inside straightGimme a break: I mean this hoo-ha, not the other one.

I’m thinking about the usual happy talk. At law firms, the happy talk sounds like this: “We’re landing big deals and new cases left and right; we just received the firm-of-the-year award from some outfit that hosts a dinner to celebrate this stuff; we’re launching great new business development initiatives.”

And only then, later, and maybe never spoken aloud at all: But we’re not paying associate bonuses, and we just moved a half-dozen guys out of the equity partner ranks.

Trust me! Times are great!

At corporations, the happy talk sounds like this: “We’re landing big customers left and right; we just received firm-of-the-year-award; etc.”

And only then, later, and maybe not spoken aloud at all: But the stock price is down, and we can’t afford to give raises this year.

Trust me! Times are great!

Riddle me this: Why do the institutions bother with this stuff? And, more than that, why do some employees seem to lap it up?

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kirkland RFEarlier this year, we noted a number of departures of private-equity partners from Kirkland & Ellis, a traditional leader in the PE space (and the #2 firm in our new law firm rankings). But K&E has also picked up partners in this practice area as well, including Sean Rodgers and Rick Madden, plus Andrew Calder and Anthony Speier in Houston.

This week the revolving door spins again at Kirkland, with the departure of a lawyer who has served in leadership roles at K&E. Who is he, and where is he going?

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DLA Piper won't 'like' this lawsuit.

DLA Piper won’t ‘like’ this lawsuit.

Biglaw firms love having Facebook as a client. The firms and lawyers that represent Facebook often brag about it on their websites and in conversation. The former scrappy startup is now an S&P 500 component with a market capitalization of $200 billion. It’s great to have Facebook as a client.

It’s less great to have Facebook as your courtroom adversary. But that’s exactly the position that DLA Piper finds itself in. Earlier today, the social-media giant filed a lawsuit against the Biglaw behemoth, as well as several other lawyers and law firms.

Why does Facebook want DLA to pay the piper?

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dartboard pen on target inside straightFirst, an example; then, a rant.

Here’s the example: I attended a mediation. The mediator gave each side 20 minutes to make an opening presentation. After one advocate had spoken for 80 — you read that right: 80 — minutes, the mediator suggested that it was time for him to wrap up.

The guy flipped through his notes, said that he still had a lot of material to cover, and then offered: “To speed things up, I’ll just bullet-point my arguments.”

Before the “continue reading” icon, I’ll note the lessons to be learned from this tale that are not the subject of today’s rant. First: If you’re given 20 minutes to speak, speak for 20 minutes. Got that?

Second: If you’re given 20 minutes to speak, you drone on for 80 minutes, and the mediator then suggests that it’s time for you to wrap up, you may speak for about two more sentences. Then, it’s time to sit down. Got that?

Third, and the most valuable lesson — instructive, yet infused with a certain dry wit — . . . .

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Who Represents America's Biggest Companies?

Top ten firms with the most Corp. Counsel mentions.

No one should be surprised that Fortune 500 companies hire some of the biggest names in law for legal services.

Corporate Counsel’s annual report lists the top ten law firms hired by the Fortune 500. As David Lat points out in Who Represents America’s Biggest Companies? (2014), “the most-mentioned firms aren’t necessarily the most prestigious or the most profitable. The rankings prioritize quantity, and they’re dominated by firms that excel in a particular practice area. See if you can guess which one.”

The answer? Workplace law.

I asked Brian Rice, LexBlog’s CFO/COO, for his thoughts on the Corporate Counsel report. Warning: Brian is a big-time data junkie. His take:

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Ebola

Returning from a trip to West Africa with some college buddies, Ben X. Posed, a waiter at Chotchkie’s, showed up for work with a fever, muscle aches, a strong headache, and stomach pains. Begging his boss Dee Manding for the rest of the day off, Ben complained of his aches and pains and told of his overnight stay where one of the villagers recently died from Ebola. Dee Manding refused any time off explaining he was short-staffed. The next day Ben was hospitalized with a confirmed case of Ebola. Are Dee Manding and Chotchkie’s liable if other employees, or patrons, contract Ebola?

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Fringe benefits

The workplace that we know today is rapidly changing. Competition for highly skilled workers is fierce, employees have become more mobile (due, in part, to alternative work arrangements or outsourcing), and there are often several generations of employees working alongside one another with different workplace approaches and perspectives. Developing employee benefit and compensation programs that are meaningful to a diverse group of workers with varied needs will become increasingly more challenging. This month’s Take 5 discusses the following five high-level issues to consider in shaping your organization’s employee benefit offerings:

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Health care courts

According to recent studies, over 90% of employers offer some type of wellness incentives to their employees. This is a significant jump from 2009 when only a little over half of employers had employee wellness programs, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) is taking note. In the last two months, the EEOC has filed two lawsuits against employers related to their company wellness programs.

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