In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog


Discovery Communications Names New General Counsel

Savalle Sims has been named the new general counsel for Discovery Communications.

Sims, formerly deputy general counsel, will lead the company's global legal teams and manage legal issues worldwide. In the new position, she reports to Bruce Campbell, chief development and legal officer.

"Savalle is a strong leader, with an incredible legal mind and strategic approach that has served Discovery exceptionally well," Campbell said in announcing her promotion.

Theranos Threatens Bankruptcy; Judge Stops Proposed Deal

Theranos played the bankruptcy card in a class-action against the company, but it was a bad play that derailed a proposed deal.

In documents unsealed in Delaware Chancery Court, investors said the company threatened to file for bankruptcy protection if they didn't accept a deal to dismiss their claims. A Theranos lawyer tried to pressure Partner Investments LP and two other funds, which invested more than $96 million in the company, to accept more equity instead.

According to reports, the plaintiffs said Theranos' attorney "sent the unmistakable message" that the company would declare bankruptcy if the investors turned down the deal. The plaintiffs then discovered that Theranos engineered the deal to make it impossible for the funds to obtain "any recovery."

Judge Travis Laster has stopped the proposed deal for now and set a hearing on the matter for June 26.

When Litigation Financing Makes No Cents

Mark Herrmann, a veteran of BigLaw litigation, says that litigation financing makes no sense for rich companies.

They can afford the attorneys fees to litigate, but they borrow the money and lose more even if they win. In a $20 million fee case, for example, they will pay twice that for borrowing. So even if they win $100 million, they will pay $40 million for financing when they could have paid only $20 million out-of-pocket.

Now why would they do that? For once, let's not blame the lawyers. It's the stock analysts.

President Donald Trump signed a 'Buy American and Hire American' executive order yesterday, which could lead to significant changes to the H-1B temporary visa program. H-1B visas allow highly skilled, foreign workers to work in the United States for three years, extendable up to six, with 85,000 such visas issued every year.

Here's what you can expect following the president's "Hire American" EO.

In-house attorneys shouldn't keep the rest of the company at arm's length. That's the message from PayPal's Chief Business Affairs and Legal Officer, Louis Pentland. "As an in-house lawyer," Pentland explains, "the best you can get is when you're integrated with the business team."

That means forgoing the more traditional role of simply identifying and advising the company on risks, while allowing others to make the final decision.

Avoid Gender Bias in Performance Reviews

Lady Justice was not always blindfolded, although she served the same purpose.

"Sight was the desired state," wrote Professors Judith Resnik and Dennis Curtis, "connected to insight, light and the rays of God's sun."

In their treatise Representing Justice, the authors provide a historic look at Lady Justice and the idea that justice is blind. Even with eyes wide open, she has always been fair.

But according to an article in Harvard Business Review, fairness is still evolving in the workplace. Performance reviews have not been fair towards women.

As lawyers, we're not always fans of employee discretion. That's why we like strong policies and clear guidelines, things that can make sure that a worker's poorly made decision doesn't result in a company-wide f--- up.

But too much restraint, and too few opportunities for employees to use their own good judgment, can be counteractive. Indeed, according to Harvard Business School professor John Deighton, it might even lead employees to have your customers dragged off airplanes, bruised, bloody, and primed for internet outrage.

AI Increases Cyber Risks for Companies

Data, the affable android of Star Trek fame, had a lesser-known brother named Lore. In the fictional universe, they were identical on the outside but very different on the inside. They were incalculably intelligent, yet as different as good and evil.

Similarly in the real world, artificial intelligence has great potential to improve the legal condition. But this blog is about AI's dark side.

What Is the Timeline for Getting Your Next In-House Job?

'There is no spoon.'

So said the bald kid in The Matrix explaining that traditional rules do not apply, but so also said attorney Tracey Lesetar-Smith in describing the rules for getting an in-house job.

"The conventional rule is that one must toil away in law firms for eight-plus years before earning the right to jump in-house," she said. But is it really a rule?

Writing for the ABA Young Lawyers Division, Lesetar-Smith said there are no rules when it comes to landing in-house jobs. Everybody has a different story. Here are a few more:

In January, the Department of Labor sued Google, accusing it of withholding information on pay disparities from federal regulators. Then, last Friday, the DOL accused Google of "systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce."

Now, Google is pushing back, arguing that its internal analyses ensure that "our pay practices remain aligned with our commitment to equal pay."