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?

I’m still recovering from the whirlwind that was #LMA15 – it’s always a festival of education, networking, mentorship, relationship-building, thought leadership, and having amazing, thought-provoking conversations about our industry and where its headed. And I love every minute of it. But one of my favorite parts, as you know, is the general counsel panel.  This year’s panel was focused on “How we buy what you sell – and how that’s changing.” I had the pleasure of speaking with two of the three panelists in advance of the session, Joe Otterstetter of 3M and Virginia Sanzone of CareFusion, and their comments during the session were very much in line with our conversations. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s look at how LMA described the session:

You already know plenty about ‘The New Normal’ and how law firms are adjusting, but corporate legal departments are not standing still either. This year’s GC panel will share Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) data and the perspective of senior in-house counsel on trends in law firm selection processes, outside counsel management, and unbundling and in-sourcing work. You will have a chance to take a look ‘under the hood’ at how legal services purchasing decisions are made and external resources are managed, including discussion of how ‘switching costs’ from an incumbent law firm are considered, the role of Procurement, how success is measured (including how the managers of outside counsel are evaluated), and more through open Q&A.”

 
Continue Reading How We Buy What You Sell – and How That’s Changing – A Recap

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

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