General Counsel Corner

If you’re a regular reader of Zen, you know that I’m a big fan of the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC). They’re working to revolutionize the legal industry, and engage all facets of it to do so.

One of the ways that legal departments excel and law firms majorly lag behind is with tracking metrics. While the law is indeed a very specialized set of skills, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to track the data that matters. We’ve heard a lot of calls from law departments over the last few years, demanding that their firms institute more tracking, and many firms are doing this to a greater or lesser degree. A huge part of legal operations is managing and understanding data, so that CLOs can identify areas of inefficiency as more pressure comes down from above. 
Continue Reading Metrics isn’t a Dirty Word – What you can Learn from CLOC

Today, we’re bringing you a special guest post from the folks at Legal Gateway, who are looking at the changing legal industry. In-house lawyers: this one’s for you, but it’s equally essential for our outside counsel readers to dive into this one. This was originally published on Plexus.

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“As CEOs plan their strategies to take advantage of transformational shifts,” the consultancy PWC suggests in their annual survey of CEOs “they are assessing their current capabilities – and finding that everything is fair game for reinvention.”  Most legal functions continue to cling outdated operating models with no transformation plan. They do so at their peril.
Continue Reading Legal Transformation: The new playbook

Today, we’re bringing you a special guest post from the folks at Legal Gateway, who have identified the top eight mistakes that in-house counsel make when implementing legal technology that prevents it from being successful. In-house lawyers: this one’s for you, and for our outside counsel readers, consider sharing this with your clients and discussing their technology needs, solutions, and strategies with them, and how you may be able to partner with them. This was originally published on Plexus.

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After many years of under-investment in technology, GCs are finally joining the party.  Sadly, many of them are setting themselves up for a hangover.

Our recent research into Legal Transformation suggests that General Counsels will increase investment in technology by 252% in the next two years.  Yet, limited technology competencies will lead most to frustration and failure.
Continue Reading Why Legal Tech does not work: The top 8 mistakes GCs make

photo-1433650552684-d4004a945d6cRegular readers of Zen know that one thing I never miss is a good in-house counsel panel. Who can skip the opportunity to listen to the clients of our clients tell us how to do our jobs better and what matters to them at this very moment?

With some heavy hitters on this year’s panel at the Legal Marketing Association’s Annual Conference, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. On the panel, we had:

  • Connie Brenton, Chairman of the Board for Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) and Senior Director of Legal Operations for NetApp, Inc.
  • Jeffrey Franke, Chief of Staff to the General Counsel and Senior Director of Global Legal Operations for Yahoo, Inc.
  • Steve Harmon, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Legal Services at Cisco Systems, Inc.
  • George Milionis, General Counsel of Petersen-Dean, Inc.
  • Moderator: Richard Caruso, Vice President of Legal Media at ALM LLC


Continue Reading In-House Counsel Panel: The Rapidly Changing Legal Buying Cycle

suhyeon-choi-104926On this International Women’s Day, we reached out to some strong, smart women we know – the in-house counsel in our LinkedIn group – and asked them to say a few words about the mentors that they credit with helping them with their professional advancement. We’re all made better by the passion, guidance, and helping hands of those who have come before us, and my favorite thing about mentorship is that it inspires each of us to reach out to the next person who can use our advice or guidance. We give back because we have been given to so freely.

The ILN has launched our own mentorship program this year, and we’re in the process of pairing up our young lawyers with experienced partners, and I can only hope that both mentors and mentees gain as much from the experience as our in-house counsel have from their mentors. We’ll add additional responses to this post as they come in, and we invite you to share your mentors with us in the comments. Before we get to our in-house counsel commentary, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes for today:

Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.”


Continue Reading International Women’s Day – An Ode to Mentors

iStock_000018170510XSmallIf you’re a regular reader of Zen, you’ll know that I love in-house counsel panels.

During the recent Legal Marketing Association’s Technology Conference, we had one of the best in-house counsel panels I’ve seen. Moderated by Wicker Park Group’s Nat Slavin, the panel consisted of:

Lest we return to the office and tell our lawyers that we needed to change our strategy based on what one panelist said during the session, Nat gave a great disclaimer to start, reminding us that it’s still “one size fits one” when it comes to clients. So I share that with you here as well.

That being said, we do still hear a lot of the same themes and ideas, many of which boil down to the point that you need to know your clients and communicate with them regularly and effectively to find out what works best for them and what it is THEY want. 
Continue Reading “What is Stopping Our Teams From Changing?” In-House Counsel Ask at LMA Tech Conference

iStock_000011931148SmallFor our latest installment of “General Counsel Corner,” I spoke with the employment counsel for a Fortune 500 company. My question to her was:

Clients apply their own set of metrics for determining quality, value, and success. What are some of the metrics you use when selecting outside counsel?”


Continue Reading General Counsel Corner: What Metrics Do You Apply to Outside Counsel?

On Friday, I had the pleasure of speaking with another of the panelists for Wednesday’s General Counsel Panel here at the Legal Marketing Association’s Annual Conference. Joseph Otterstetter is the Managing Counsel and Associate General Counsel with 3M.  The position was a new one created two and a half years ago, with Otterstetter acting as a type of “Chief of Staff” for the legal department. He overseas a range of areas, including budget, human resources, and operations, and works with the General Counsel and leadership to run the department.

I started off by observing that in Otterstetter’s LinkedIn biography, he indicates that he was appointed to lead the efforts to improve efficiency and effectiveness of 3M legal affairs. I asked him to comment on how he’s been focused on accomplishing that. 

Primarily, he answered, it’s been focused around three things.

  1. Working with his colleagues on the convergence process, which has led them to reduced their outside counsel by 75%.
  2. Related to that, there’s been a big push for using non-time-based bees for outside lawyers, and that’s now the majority of the work that they do.
  3. They’re also doing strategic insourcing – moving more of the work that they’ve typically done outside in the past in-house. 


Continue Reading Outside Firms are More and More Becoming an Extension of In-House Law Departments

We’re one week away from the start of the Legal Marketing Association‘s Annual Conference, and if you’re a regular reader of Zen, you’ll know that my favorite session of the conference is always the general counsel panel

This year, I thought I’d switch things up a little bit by reaching out to LMA before the conference to see if I could interview the GCs prior to the panel for a preview of their remarks. I spoke with one of the panelists on Friday, and will be speaking with another one this coming Friday, so tune in next Monday for our second preview interview! 

Before I jump into the panelist’s remarks, let’s look at what LMA will be focusing on in this year’s panel, which is titled "How We Buy What You Sell – and How That’s Changing."  The panel will be moderated by Catherine Moynihan, the Senior Director of Legal Management Services at the Association of Corporate Counsel, and will feature Darragh Davis, the Vice President & General Counsel for Petco Animal Supplies Inc., Virginia Sanzone, the SVP and AGC – Business Segments and Americas for CareFusion and Joe Otterstetter, the Managing Counsel for 3M. 


Continue Reading It’s [Still] About Being Your Client’s Business Partner

We’re about an hour away from Viewabill’s two-hour webinar today on the topic of improving the attorney-client relationship! On Friday, I shared an interview I had done with Casey Flaherty of Kia Motors. I also had the pleasure of speaking with another of the panelists, Dan Baker, who is the Senior Operations Lead for LinkedIn Legal. 

Dan’s role at LinkedIn runs the gamut – he described his day as always moving the needle forward on a myriad of projects, from their pro bono program, career leveling, managing contracts, requisitioning, planning/forecasting, event planning, goal setting and tracking, spend reporting, liaising with others, budgeting, knowledge management, engaging firms, and much, much more. 

As a lady who wears lots of hats herself, I could absolutely sympathize with Dan’s role…and his need to make things as streamlined and efficient as possible. 

Friends in Need

The first session Dan will be a part of today is "Friends in Need," with inside and outside counsel discussing their changing roles, and how the other can help them. 


Continue Reading “Relationships Matter, But Not if We Can’t Afford Them” An Interview with Operations Lead, Dan Baker