Corporate Counsel

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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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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Disabled-worker-post-it-300x199

Imagine for a moment that you are the HR Manager for a company with many physically demanding jobs. One of your employees submits a doctor’s note prohibiting her from lifting anything over 25 pounds. Mindful of your obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you check to see if the lifting restriction will prevent the employee from doing her job. Unfortunately, after checking the employee’s job description and talking with her supervisors, you conclude that lifting is a key part of the employee’s job (in legal terms, an “essential function”), and there is nothing practical that can be done (in legal terms, no “reasonable accommodation”) to allow her to perform her job. When you tell the employee that she cannot return to her job, she asks if there are other positions available within the company that she can be transferred to. You say you’ll look into it, but when you start asking around, things get complicated. There are a handful of open positions in other departments, but the job requirements are different and some of the positions already have applicants who seem better qualified. None of the positions have exactly the same pay as the employee’s warehouse position, so she would either be getting a raise or a demotion. What should you do?

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keyboard typing

“Cyber liability insurance” is often used to describe a range of insurance policies, in the same way that the word cyber is used to describe a broad range of information security related tools, processes and services. Everyone is talking about the need for “stand alone” cyber liability insurance policies. These stand-alone cyber liability insurance policies basically cover expenses related to the management of a breach, e.g, the investigation, remediation, notification and credit checking. However, cyber liability coverage is also found in some existing insurance policies, including kidnap and ransom and professional liability coverage. There may also be some limited coverage through a crime policy if electronic theft is added to that policy.

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Gavel with American Flag

On September 18, 2014, InsideCounsel magazine held a corporate counsel conference to facilitate discussions on current legal issues. In sessions on governance and compliance, industry experts addressed the current top challenges that in-house attorneys face when managing enterprise risk.

Cybersecurity is no longer just a “technology” issue. It has become a business and legal issue. Compliance and management personnel must be trained and informed on the impact that cybersecurity risks present to the business. Companies must have a business response, not just a technical response, prepared for when something goes wrong. The question is not “whether” a cybersecurity issue will arise, but when.

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Online Password

You are general counsel to a company, and your CEO steps into your office, clutching his iPhone in one hand and wiping sweat from his brow with the other, and tells you that a compromising photograph of him was stolen from his phone and posted online. You start thinking not if, but when, shareholders will discover this embarrassment, how much it will cost the company and what legal action to take.

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clients RF

One of the phrases we hear most frequently in client feedback interviews is “Make my life easier.” Clients often describe that as the key to their most successful outside counsel relationships, and at other times they express that wish for broken relationships. But what does it really mean and how can we put it into practice? Like a diligent athlete, those who make their clients’ lives easier pursue it as a way of life rather than an act of duty.

As with most of our recommendations, we highly encourage you to customize your approach to the client, include the client in the discussion and adapt and evolve the value over time. Here are some ways to get started:

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women-lawyers

Over three days during September 17-19, InsideCounsel magazine succeeded where others have not. They created a national forum to facilitate women-to-women exchange on current legal issues. This year’s conference was the second annual meeting to bring together talented women attorneys. As part of the process, InsideCounsel invited nationally-recognized women who are General Counsel for Fortune 500 companies and attracted the best and brightest among in-house attorneys around the world. One speakers’ panel shared their experiences for getting to the GC leadership positions where they are today, and the advice is refreshingly candid.

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Please go f@ck yourself and die, SCOTUSblog.

Following the Supreme Court’s recent guidance in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, several software patents have been invalidated by the Federal Circuit, and district courts. In Alice Corp., the court set out a two prong validity test. First, whether the subject matter is eligible for a patent; and second, if so, whether the recitation of generic computer components adds something that is not already present when the steps are considered separately? For software patent applicants, Alice Corp. now requires that the method or system 1) improve the functioning of the computer itself, and do more than instruct one to apply the abstract idea on an unspecified generic computer; or 2) effect an improvement in another technology or field.

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