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Legal Ops Taking Aim at Changes in 2017

‘Legal ops’ can conjure up the image of a sniper, clothed with clandestine legitimacy and a laser-focused rifle.

It’s a fair analogy, as legal operations professionals gain more power in corporate legal departments around the world. Ten years ago, not many corporate counsel knew they existed. Today, they are key members of legal teams trained to work fast and cut costs.

With the formation of the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium, there are more than 600 card-carrying members of the organization. This is an account of who they are and what they can do:

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.

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:

Tips to Overcome Stress at the Office

You have a big corporate job, responsible for millions of dollars and accountable to thousands of shareholders. But it's hard to breathe at the top because the air is thin and the pressure is intense.

Or maybe your job is not so big, still you feel stressed as you put out the fires of even a small business. Life is hard on the street, too.

Well it won't get any easier if you have a headache, get sick or simply burn out. So relax, have a seat, and take your shoes off. Here are some tips to help you de-stress:

When law firms hire, they tend to look for signs of skill, intelligence, and dedication. For new associates, this may mean seeking out candidates with degrees from top schools, or involvement in time-consuming activities like law review. For laterals, firms may look for years of experience with a prestigious firm, or a history of grinding out hours.

In-house legal departments look for these things too. But much more so than their law firm counterparts, the corporate world emphasizes "culture fit," that elusive quality that seems to indicate "you'll do well here."

Lawyers know a thing or two about burnout. After all, dealing with high-stakes conflicts, demanding hours, and constant pressure, well, it's no wonder so many people find themselves at the end of their ropes. Some attorneys change practices or change careers, others implode in a more spectacular fashion.

But Johnson & Johnson thinks it might have the cure for burnout amongst its high performers -- and it involves a dietitian, a physiologist, and an executive coach. Could their approach work in your legal department?

Is Your Work Data Secure? Tips from IBM's Security Officer

Shamlaw Naidoo, chief information security officer for IBM, says that personal behavior is the first line of defense against cyberattacks.

"As consumers, we make the difference," she told an audience at a recent American Bar Association Techshow. "The world we live in is changing. Give yourself the benefit of taking all the steps you can."

Naidoo offered her remarks in the presentation, "Beyond Encryption: Protecting Your Assets Everywhere and All the Time." She urged cybersecurity basics -- setting up strong passwords, updating patches on computers and personal devices and ensuring encryption during internet communications.

She also talked about the problems lawyers will face in near future, as clients demand more protection for their data.

Missteps at the early stages of an internal investigation can snowball later on, frustrating your ability to respond to a crisis, whether it's a data breach, employee scandal, or potential violation of the law. Failure to react to allegations of employee misconduct could damage the reputation of the company, for example, while a slow start to an investigation could mean lost evidence. Regulatory obligations could be missed, confidential information made public or destroyed.

When you start off an internal investigation, it's essential that you start it off right.

Social media has become such an important platform for connection and communication that the Supreme Court is currently considering whether there's a Constitutional right to Facebook. (Seriously.) More than 2.5 billion people use social media, including the president, the Kardashians, and every tween alive, spending an average of just under two hours on social media every day. (Nine, if you're a teen.)

There's no question then why more and more companies are turning to social media as an advertising platform, whether it's Wendy's on Twitter or Home Depot on Snapchat. But social media advertising can raise some legal issues in-house counsel should be aware of.

California's Rights to Privacy and Compliance Programs

California is famous for Hollywood, Disneyland, and the Online Privacy Protection Act.

What? Did you think the Golden State was all fun and games? Californians do more than go to the movies and amusement parks.

In fact, they value the right to privacy so much they enshrined it in Article I of the state constitution. Not even the U.S. Supreme Court could do better in creating a constitutional right to privacy.

"Today, California leads the nation not only as an innovation hub for information technologies, but also with the most comprehensive, stringent and up-to-date information privacy laws," according to excerpts from a privacy practice guide by attorney Lothar Determann.