Corporate Compliance

You gotta love the reviewer who wrote of my new Inside Straight book: “What John Updike was to the suburbs, Herrmann is to the legal sector.”

Maybe you have to question her sanity, too, but you gotta love her.

Enough of that. Now, back to our regularly scheduled program:

Many lawyers at firms believe that in-house life is like the Elysian Fields — where “life is easiest for men. No snow is there, nor heavy storm, nor ever rain.” And, in some ways, those perceptions are right.

In one sense, however, the outside lawyer has it easy. He tells inside counsel: “The rule is X. Have everyone do X, and you will have complied with the law.” And then he goes back to reading cases.

The in-house lawyer is left with the hard part: How the heck do I get 100,000 employees, in 150 countries around the world, to do X?

In-house lawyers are often asked to operationalize rules, and it’s not always easy . . .

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: Operationalize This!”

* “There’s no future in working for Dewey & LeBoeuf,” but maybe if the firm’s few remaining employees can hold on for a little while longer, then perhaps they’ll be able to take home some bonus cash. [Am Law Daily]

* Doctors in Arizona are trying to block part of a new law that makes it a crime for physicians to perform abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Well, somebody wasn’t paying attention in Con Law. [Bloomberg]

* All it took was an investigation by the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission to get this judge to change his tune and apologize for throwing a lawyer in jail for the crime of representing his client. [WZZM]

* What do recent law school grads think about Yale Law’s new Ph.D. program? Most aren’t willing to spend the time or money to “resolve [their] next career crisis by going back to school.” [U.S. News & World Report]

* Come on, you’re not the 99 percent. Clinic members from NYU Law and Fordham Law wrote a report criticizing the NYPD’s response to the Occupy Wall Street movement. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Wait, law schools are slow to adopt something that may benefit their students? What else is new? Corporate compliance classes are few and far between, even though they could get you a job. [WSJ Law Blog]

Someone in the company is going rogue: The person proposes to do something brazenly illegal, or slightly illegal, or perfectly legal but sufficiently immoral that the conduct would turn any reasonable person’s stomach. The rogue is not listening to logic. The person is ignoring everything that your local in-house lawyer is saying.

When the local lawyer calls the headquarters law department for help, these are the words that headquarters must be able to speak: “Local lawyer, you win. This is not a close call; we should not be doing this. In this situation, I guarantee you that you hold the trump card. Who do you need to make a call to solve your problem? The general counsel? The chief financial officer? The CEO? Someone else? We will cause that call to be made in a heartbeat. What do you need?”

Is that what people mean when they talk about “tone at the top”?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: Knowing That Law Wins”

I recently heard a horror story from an in-house lawyer at another corporation. This may not sound like a horror story to someone who works at a law firm, but if you reflect for a minute, you’ll see the birds gathering on the monkey bars in the background.

Three people — one from finance; one from a business unit; and our hero, the lawyer — were speaking on a panel to a couple hundred people in a business unit. The business-unit panelist said something outrageous and brazenly illegal to the assembled group. Assume it was something like, “As you know, we simply ignore that law,” or, “It’s easier to raise prices if we just conspire with the competition.” You get my drift.

Our hero, the lawyer, involuntarily gasped into his (or her) microphone, “My God, Smith, you can’t say that! How many times do I have to tell you?”

Smith looked over, thought for a minute, and said to the assembled crowd: “That’s just Legal.”

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: If Law Don’t Get No Respect”

It’s the end of October, and you know what that means: law school finals are lurking. As law students begin to hunker down and make sweet, sweet love to their outlines and flashcards, others are busy thinking up more clever ways to study the same materials.

Visual learners think that drawing pictures will help them cram especially boring law into their brains, but those in the auditory learning crowd know better. And that’s why one law student is writing rap songs about the most boring law of all, Sarbanes-Oxley….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Because Sometimes You Just Need to Rap About the Law”

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