Anno domini 2014. Some called it the year of "social media engagement." Others call it the Year of the Horse. And if you're general counsel for a university with an athletics department, it's going to be the year of pain.
For everyone else, it's just another year, with an endless list of tasks to complete. To make sure some of those tasks haven't slipped through the cracks, we thought we'd give you a few reminders. Think of this as a partial Q1 checklist, with the caveat that it's not industry specific. (A GC for a blossoming startup company has different "to dos" than a large bank's in house counselor, for example.)
5. Audit Your Employment Policies
The NLRB is always tweaking or clarifying something. Last year, the board was big on social media policies (so much so, in fact, that social media gets its own category). But the NLRB also issued important guidance on retailers' "non-solicitation" policies, representation-case procedures for unionization, and even workplace gossip. Yes, gossip.
At minimum, once a year, you should be reviewing the big NLRB changes. Or, of course, you could just follow this blog a bit more closely -- we cover pretty much everything.
4. Audit Your Social Media Policy and Strategy
Social media policies typically restrict what employees can say about your company. Thanks to Section 7 protections, the NLRB scrutinizes such policies heavily, especially if your policy infringes upon speech about working conditions.
There's also the issue of company-owned accounts going rogue, or high-level employees putting their foot in their mouth by tweeting something offensive. Your company's response has to be quick and strategic.
We have an all-in-one social media post that covers the PR catastrophes, the NLRB guidance, and more.
One final note: we'd also recommend auditing your social media strategy and your return on investment. Is it paying dividends, or do you need to reevaluate and revamp?
3. Audit Your Outside Counsel
Are you being rate-jacked? Have you explored alternative fee arrangements? Have you considered a smaller firm or perhaps, one of the new startups that offers piecemeal temporary outside counsel services at a discount?
The easiest thing to do is to stick with your current outside counsel, but you could be flushing funds by doing so.
2. Audit Ongoing Projects (Transactional, Litigation, IP, etc.)
Pardon the lack of specificity here, but every IH department has a different set of projects, such as compliance issues, transactional work, mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property protection, and litigation. Now is a good time to review your department's ongoing projects to make sure that they are progressing as expected and that sufficient resources are allocated to the projects.
1. Set Goals for Q2 to Q4
Don't wait for the New Year to make resolutions. Now that you've audited your company's policies and projects, you know where the deficits are, and where there is work to be done. Create a plan for action now, so that next quarter's audit comes with fewer surprises.
What do you have on your 'To Do' list? Do you do quarterly audits of your in house legal department? Share your tips with us on Facebook.
- 3 Cost-Saving Tasks to Tackle in 2014 (FindLaw's In House Blog)
- Top 10 In House Legal Stories of 2013 (FindLaw's In House Blog)
- Lost Treasures of FindLaw: Sample Contracts From Big Companies (FindLaw's In House Blog)