(The session also functioned as a kind of George W. Bush administration mini-reunion, given Olson’s service as Solicitor General, Majoras being the former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, and Leitch’s experience as White House deputy counsel.)
Olson asked the right questions, and these three gave candid answers. A partner at Gibson Dunn, Olson asked a question near and dear to many of our readers’ hearts: “What do you look for from outside counsel?” Olson asked them to talk about other factors than the oft-discussed “low rates and alternative fees.”
Good communication. “Tell us how we can help solve a problem and not exacerbate it. Tell us like it is. Too often, I feel like firms are managing me like a client. Firms never tell us, ‘I’m not as good at this – someone else might be better,’” said Mayes.
A point of view. “Give me the advice. Firms think they do this. But actually, firms want to explain the law, give some legal thoughts, and then let you decide. I want you to understand our business enough, that when you give me legal advice, and we discuss it – it’s not usually yes or no, if it were that simple, we’d do it ourselves – but I want you to have a point of view. Too often, outside lawyers don’t have that,” said Majoras.
Candor. “Just be candid about what we’re doing, what your limitations are, what your advice is,” said Leitch.
Appreciation for how their business operates. (Though this actually got into the forbidden topic of $$$.) Leitch knows he has a target on his back as a GC with a big litigation budget, but he’s cut his legal staff by 40% and is watching life-long Ford workers get laid off. “When I’m seeing people who have been at Ford for 40 years be laid off, and you’re going to call me that day and argue about whether your fee is $500 or $550, I just can’t deal with that,” said Leitch. “Know my business; know that our lawyers have gone without bonuses for the last two years.”
What if you don’t want to work for a GC, and you’d rather be one yourself?
Tuesday, the InsideCounsel SuperConference kicked off with a presentation by Eric O’Neill, the former FBI agent whose spy-catching was immortalized in the Hollywood film, Breach (he’s Ryan Phillippe). O’Neill told spy stories that, while exciting, had questionable relevance for the gathered in-house crowd, beyond some advice for preventing corporate espionage. Watch what kind of information you give out at trade shows, for one.
The next panel was more directly applicable for those in attendance: a panel on corporate governance moderated by former Ambassador and current Nelson Mullins partner Philip Lader. With tan skin and a generous mane of white hair, he had the air of a cruise ship director and so it was not surprising that he did an excellent job steering his panel.
His panel — comprised of Marriott International’s EVP and General Counsel Edward Ryan; Delaware Supreme Court chief justice Myron Steele; Chicago business school dean Edward Snyder; and Enron whistleblower Sherron Watkins — gave practical advice for in-house counsel on managing risk and dealing with outside counsel.
What’s one thing all corporate lawyers should be thinking about? Well, besides the implosion of the legal job market. Dean Snyder says left-tail risk should be on everyone’s minds…
Hundreds have gathered here in Chicago for the 10th annual Inside Counsel SuperConference. Though it’s perfectly pleasant weather outside, the Fairmont Hotel meeting rooms are upholding the Windy City’s reputation for frigid temperatures.
Many of the sessions offer advice on how in-house counsel can improve their offerings to their companies and get the most from their outside counsel. One law firm that has set up shop in the vendors’ alley has an advertisement that reads, “The Billable Hour is dead… and we killed it” — a pure pander-play to cost-conscious in-house counsel.
But the conference is not dedicated solely to budget busting, belt-tightening moves. Last night was a celebration of female GCs and law firm partners, with a series of awards for successful women lawyers and the companies and firms that support them.
Winners offered advice on empowering women in the work place. I wish I’d kept count of the number of times I heard the word “mentor.” I also heard a new term: “the old girls’ network.”
Lawyers are obsessed with rankings. When the new U.S. Newslaw school rankings come out each year, our readers swarm around them like sharks who smell blood in the water.
And with good reason. Where you went to school matters in this profession. In our series of open threads about the rankings, Elie commented in the posts on the third tier and fourth tier schools that only a lucky few of their graduates would be able to score jobs that pay the big bucks.
So how good exactly do you have to be to appeal to employers?
Shell Oil is currently advertising for an in-house position. Shell is willing to accept applications for graduates from all four tiers — unlike U.S. News, Shell recognizes and defines the “Tier II” schools (#51-#100) — but the lower down your school is on the U.S. News rankings, the closer to the top of your class you have to be.
So exactly what rank do you have to be to qualify for a BigOil law job?
There are a number of firms that aren’t up to speed with this whole “social media thing.” But they should be, because their clients are.
American Lawyer Media, Zeughauser Group and communications firm Greentarget surveyed 164 in-house counsel about their social media habits. Lo and behold, they are making use of blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to get their legal information… and, perhaps more interestingly, to judge law firms.
In-house counsel still primarily rely on “referrals from trusted sources and credentialing activity (i.e., demonstrations of thought leadership)” to choose outside lawyers, but they are increasingly taking brilliant tweets and blog posts into consideration…
Ed. note: Law Shucks focuses on life in, and after, BigLaw, including by tracking layoffs, bonuses, and laterals. Above the Law is pleased to bring you this weekly column, which analyzes news at the world’s top law firms.
May is normally a slow month for BigLaw. There’s generally no recruiting going on, as firms prepare for summer associates’ arrivals.
The highlight is Memorial Day weekend, which kicks off the start of summer and ends a long drought of holidays. Partners start thinking about readying their summer retreats over the long weekend.
It’s also a pretty tame time of year for most clients. It’s the middle of the second quarter, and there aren’t a whole lot of seasonal businesses that spike during the period. Annual reports and proxy statements have gone out, and most companies have held their annual shareholder meetings.
This is as close as it gets to "routine."
For BigLaw, routine means malpractice allegations, billion-dollar deals, bailing out Superman, and acting like lawyers are trained to run businesses….
What do your clients think of your firm? Unfortunately, in-house counsel don’t usually send a review of services along when they’re paying their Biglaw bill. But a number of them do rate firms when asked to by Corporate Board Member magazine. It has released its 10th annual list of top law firms, based on what those paying the bills think of the firms.
The rankings are based on a survey of over 2,200 general counsel and 8,500 directors serving on boards of publicly traded companies. GCs were asked to select “up to 10 national firms they would choose to aid them should their company need a firm of national scope and reputation,” and the directors were asked who they would call when they had legal issues. In a press release accompanying the list, the magazine’s CEO says:
“When it comes to trust and loyalty, it is obvious these firms have both the depth and breadth of expertise boards are looking for as well as the necessary staying power to deliver it—even in challenging economic times,” said TK Kerstetter, president and CEO of Corporate Board Member.
Good news for general counsel who dream of one day sitting in the king’s seat: the ABA Magazine says there is a new trend of corporations tapping lawyers to become top executives:
Nine of the Fortune 50 companies now have a lawyer as chief executive, up from three just a decade ago. In December, Bank of America and Continental Airlines became the two most recent publicly traded corporations to do so. Also in 2009, Citigroup named Richard Parsons, another lawyer, as its chairman, which is separate from the CEO.
Business leaders and corporate headhunters agree that the JD is once again an alternative to the MBA as the degree of choice for CEO candidates, and that the trend is very likely to increase over the next decade.
Woo-hoo. Maybe law school grads will start kicking biz school grads to the curb. Vanderbilt’s management school dean goes so far as to call the J.D. a “renaissance degree.”
According to the ABA Magazine, one law school is particularly successful in sending its grads off to lead a company instead of doing bet-the-company work….
Back in the summer of 2008, we wrote a post entitled “Summer Associates of the Day: Sapphic Summers in Lesbianic Lip-Lock.” The title of the post pretty much says it all.
Well, it turns out that a partner at the same firm, Minneapolis-based Lindquist & Vennum, may have been misbehaving too. The Pioneer Press reports that Michael S. Margulies, a leading Twin Cities real estate lawyer, has been accused of professional misconduct — in the form of “misappropriat[ing] significant sums from a limited number of clients and from the firm,” according to a statement by the firm. Margulies has withdrawn from the firm’s partnership, reported his conduct to Minnesota’s professional responsibility office, and agreed to be disbarred. He has also resigned from the St. Paul Planning Commission, where he served several terms under different mayors.
What prompted this alleged theft? It seems that Michael Margulies, former head of Lindquist’s real estate group, may have loved real estate not wisely, but too well. From the Pioneer Press:
Margulies, 56, of St. Paul, and his personal company, Triad Services, were sued in Ramsey County District Court by a real estate development company for which he had worked as an attorney, secretary and treasurer. In the lawsuit, CMB Minnetonka LLC alleged that Margulies “made numerous illicit withdrawals” from CMB’s bank account and line of credit at Highland Bank and used the money — $1.5 million or more — for his own purposes.
Specifically, the suit claims Margulies spent the money to overhaul the historic mansion at 516 Summit Ave. in St. Paul that he owned with his former wife.
So he allegedly did it all for love of a house. Was it worth it? Just how nice is this pile o’ bricks?
Watch to find out what some of our subscribers received in their May box!
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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