General Counsel Corner

On Monday, Viewabill will be presenting a two-hour webinar session on the topic of improving the attorney-client relationship through innovation. I first became familiar with Viewabill during the P3 conference, when panelists during one of the sessions were discussing its value. 

Thanks to my coverage of P3, I was able to get a heads up on Monday’s webinar, which will bring together inside and outside counsel to discuss some meaty issues. I’ll be covering the sessions in more detail in some recaps next week, but I was able to snag interviews with a few of the panelists in advance of the webinar, which I’ll be sharing with you here. 

First up is D. Casey Flaherty, Corporate Counsel for Kia Motors America. Inc. and founder and developer behind the Legal Tech Audit (LTA), who was kind enough to speak with me this morning. From his LinkedIn profile: 

Based on what he witnessed in BigLaw, Casey developed a Legal Technology Audit that he administers to his outside counsel. In conjunction with Suffolk University Law School’s Institute on Law Practice Technology & Innovation and a group of advisers from across the legal spectrum, Casey’s audit has been automated. Registrations are open (http://www.legaltechaudit.com/). The LTA is not associated with Kia Motors America."


Continue Reading What Really Matters to Purchasers of Legal Service? An Interview with General Counsel, Casey Flaherty

I always enjoy hearing what factors into a general counsel’s decision to hire outside law firms – it gives great insight into what firms should be focusing on, both when it comes to the delivery of legal services, as well as the message that they’re promoting.

In our latest edition of the General Counsel Corner, I asked the employment counsel for a large international company to describe the factors that they consider when hiring outside counsel.  

Our GC contributor told me: 

In selecting outside counsel, we seek attorneys at reputable firms with a proven track record in the particular areas of expertise for which we are seeking counsel, who provide counsel taking into account not only the law, but also the pragmatic realities of our business and provide guidance as to how best to move the forward while mitigating risk to the company. Ideally, our attorneys will have an existing relationship with the outside counsel to increase the likelihood that the outside counsel will care about our business and the counsel being provided, as opposed to merely looking to generate a book of business. We also appreciate counsel who work efficiently and are mindful of minimizing attorneys fees and costs given the current economic climate and renewed focus on managing budgets."


Continue Reading General Counsel Corner: Considerations When Selecting Outside Counsel

Today, we welcome to the General Counsel Corner Tina Rao, the Chief Counsel, Healthcare for Maxim Healthcare Inc

Our question to Ms. Rao was: 

What is your process for selecting outside counsel?"

She let us know that: 

There are many ways that you can select outside counsel but personal relationships and connections are most significant. Additionally, showing expertise as a subject matter expert in a particular area by writing articles and client alerts are helpful. Once engaged in a matter, regular communication updates are a must. It is very off-putting if you find out after the fact that motion was filed and you were not alerted."

Ms. Rao’s response is something that we’ve heard a number of times – "personal relationships and connections are most significant." But she further expands that, suggesting, as we would expect, expertise is important – and showing that expertise through articles and client alerts is helpful.  


Continue Reading General Counsel Corner: Selecting Outside Counsel

For our latest installment, we spoke with a general counsel who works closely with outside counsel.  We wanted to know, 

What is your preference for how a lawyer tries to learn more about you and your business?"

She told us that

In working with outside counsel, I encourage them to learn as much as possible about our business so they have context to give advice. The best lawyers ask thoughtful questions that invite us to give context and details, "Tell me how you would typically . . ."; "how would this scenario arise again, or how has it come up in the past." If the advice we get is not given in context, it will not be very practical."


Continue Reading General Counsel Corner: Getting to Know Your Business

For today’s General Counsel Corner, I had the pleasure of having a phone interview with Clay Matthews, Chief Intellectual Property Counsel for NewMarket Corporation. The question I had for Mr. Matthews was: 

What is your process for selecting outside counsel?" 

His answer was quite interesting, because while some of it was in line with things we’ve heard before, quite a bit of it goes against the grain. He told me: 

When you come in-house, you inherit outside counsel from your predecessors. A lot is legacy.  In addition to that, most of the time, you’ve already had a private practice career, and have friends from outside firms. You know who the competent ones are, and stow away that information."

Not everyone that you like as a person is a suitable attorney, so it becomes a dance. You learn to deflect those you can’t use." 

What criteria is important then? Extreme competence – I need to be comfortable with their legal skills. They don’t need to be someone I could have a beer with.  It’s not easy to find someone like that, because those who are really, really good are also really busy.  And they don’t do a lot of their own rainmaking." 


Continue Reading General Counsel Corner: Selecting Outside Counsel

For this month’s installment of our General Counsel Corner, we are pleased to welcome Assistant General Counsel and Assistant Director of Internal Operations for Jacam Chemical Company, Jayson Macyda.  

Mr. Macyda is not only a lawyer for Jacam, but also a general business manager. Because of his dual function, he is keenly aware of how legal decisions impact business operations, and vice versa. Jacam Chemical Company is a division of Canadian Energy Services, and provides chemical solutions to the oil and gas industry worldwide. 

In his role with them, Mr. Macyda assists in managing their North American and overseas legal operations, focusing on transactions and litigation matters regarding a number of different areas of law.  He is also responsible for the general business management overseeing the operations of Jacam’s IT, HR, safety & Department of Transportation, health & environment, and public relations and marketing divisions. 

This expertise, along with his diverse educational and employment background, means he has interacted with hundreds, if not thousands, of lawyers – so Mr. Macyda can quickly identify those who will be able to assist him in managing Jacam’s legal and business affairs.


Continue Reading General Counsel Corner: Clients Want a Partner

For our latest installment of the General Counsel Corner, we talked to Mark Ginalski, the General Counsel at SunLink Corporation. SunLink manufactures integrated PV balance of system solutions for the photovoltaic industry that reduce the cost of installation, ease permitting, and enhance system design flexibility. SunLink’s industry-leading solar roof and ground mount racking systems

For our third installment of our General Counsel Corner, we’ve brought in an In-house Counsel at a leading independent fiduciary services business. 

Our question to him was: 

What is your preference for how a lawyer tries to learn more about you and your business?"

He told us, "Good question. I’d say it’s like any client relationship

I’m very excited to be kicking off our newest feature today on Zen – the General Counsel Corner! 

Throughout my career, I’ve seen a number of in-house counsel presentations and articles, many of which continue to have the same themes with respect to the inside/outside counsel relationship. It seems that many law firms may still not understand what their clients and potential clients really need and want. To continue to draw attention to those things that matter most to GCs, I’ll be featuring in-house counsel here on the blog in our "General Counsel Corner." Periodically, I’ll be sharing with you a short interview that I’ve done with a GC, in which he or she will answer one key question. 


Continue Reading General Counsel Corner: Factors in Hiring Outside Counsel