In-House Counsel

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 — . . . .

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Abbrev’s For Idio’s (Or, 3 Tips For Effective Communication)”

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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In last week’s column, I discussed the importance of effective deposition defense, with a focus on the client-facing aspects of the process. Now it is time to focus on the true star of the show, the witness.

Yes, some witnesses will be important, perhaps even a senior executive at a client. Or a technical expert, on whose testimony your case rides. And other witnesses will be more tangential, like the IT guy you need to defend with respect to e-discovery issues.

Yes, I understand that every witness is critical, especially when it comes to e-discovery. Human nature, however, is to treat “important people,” like executives and experts, with an extra level of care. As a lawyer, the key is to treat every witness you are preparing for deposition with respecr — while remembering your role as an advocate, tasked with winning your client’s case. Effective defense of depositions goes a long way towards achieving favorable litigation results.

Here are some tips:

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Here’s the rule: Make it perfect; then send it to me.

(Yeah, yeah: That’s a slight overstatement, and there might be occasional exceptions to the rule. But let’s explain the rule first, for the benefit of the slow students. We’ll teach the exceptions to the advanced students next semester.)

The old guy — the curmudgeon who’s heading up the team — has been playing this game for decades. He’s been marking up crappy drafts since before you were born. He’s been receiving bad drafts at 6:30 p.m. on Friday (“so that you can have the weekend to look at it”) since God was young. That crotchety old coot really, really, really is not interested in seeing more bad work. (Put yourself in his shoes for a minute: Why would he possibly want to see your appalling first draft?)

Make it perfect; then give it to him. Why should he bother looking at anything other than your best work?

That’s the rule. Here’s a corollary . . .

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Lindsay Lohan

* This just in: Now that the Fifth Circuit has refused to hear the Texas abortion case en banc, it looks like we may see a viable case about a major social issue being brought to Term before SCOTUS after all. [National Law Journal]

* Skadden came out on top of the Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters, and Mergermarket league tables for the highest transactional value of its mergers and acquisitions deals in 2014. Congrats on kicking the competition’s ass. [Am Law Daily]

* Per HBR Consulting, clients are winning the war when it comes to getting legal services on the cheap. Consider this a “call to action for law firms to reconsider the way they do business.” [WSJ Law Blog]

* The Elon University School of Law is completely revamping its academic offerings in order to offer a law degree that can be earned in 2.5 years, and for about $14,000 less. Nice work! [Triad Business Journal]

* Lindsay Lohan’s attorneys filed an amended complaint in her case against Grand Theft Auto’s publisher, this time going so far as to spell their client’s name correctly. [Hollywood, Esq. / Hollywood Reporter]

* Congratulations to Tony West on his new gig as general counsel of PepsiCo. It sounds like an exciting and challenging opportunity. Plus, you know, free Mountain Dew. [Politico]

* What the hell? The feds stole a woman’s identity and made it into a Facebook page. Well, now she’s found out and she’s suing. Identity theft was one thing, but the way the DEA Agent kept spamming the woman’s friends to play Candy Crush Saga was just unacceptable. [Buzzfeed]

* Time for some court news: Ninth Circuit joined the chorus in striking down gay marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada. [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit]

* It’s Nobel Prize time, and one of the winners for Physics has a personal story about how important it is to hire a good lawyer. In fact, it was about $180 million important. [Slate]

* We constantly beat the drum of how law schools need to adjust to reality and stop duping students into terrible financial decisions. But here’s the PR secret that’s kept law schools from, by and large, collapsing: they sell the experience. [Law and More]

* An open letter begging Amal Alamuddin not to quit her day job now that she’s married to some acting guy. [The Careerist]

* New York City paid $50K to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of a child who killed herself after school officials allegedly did nothing despite several warnings that the girl was being brutally bullied. There’s a lot of “in my day…” types who read this site who may not care about bullying, but this is more a question of irresponsibility. If your job is to provide a safe learning environment and you fail, you pay. [DNA Info]

* At oral argument, the Court seemed generally supportive of the Muslim inmate hoping to grow a beard. If this intuition is right, soon individual people may have the same religious rights as corporations! [Supreme Court Brief]

* Finally, thanks to the Rutgers-Newark Law School chapter of the American Constitution Society for hosting a great event today where Elie and I previewed the upcoming SCOTUS Term. My personal highlight was watching Elie’s head explode while talking about Young v. UPS.

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