In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog

How to Transform Your Legal Department With Technology

When Dr. Frankenstein made his monster, he took no thought for his creature's impact on the townspeople.

That was his big mistake, turning the creation story into a tragic tale. Unless, of course, we're talking about the next generation; that was a different story.

Not to compare monsters to legal departments, but there is a modern story in the making. Technology is nothing if it's not people-friendly.

Apple's Former GC Joins Village Enterprise to Help End Extreme Poverty

Somewhere in rural Africa is a business woman who will never meet the people who helped launch her business -- people like attorney Bruce Sewell.

The retired general counsel serves on the board of Village Enterprise, which trains impoverished Africans to start their own businesses. He donated to the non-profit in the past because he couldn't do the work himself.

"Now, it's time for me to roll up my sleeves and participate at the board level," he said.

How to Move From the Law Office to the Corporate Suite

The road to general counsel often starts at BigLaw, but does not go from there directly to the corporate Big Chair.

Fewer corporations are hiring attorneys straight out of law firms to lead their legal business. In the past three years, the number of new hires from law firms has dropped to about 18 percent.

That's more than a bump in the road. It's a sign telling you how to go from the law office to the corporate office.

When an employee makes a complaint alleging sexual harassment, whether the perpetrator was a co-worker, manager, or supervisor, every company should do one thing: Don't ignore the complaint. Taking prompt remedial action can actually preclude liability.

Restaurant Partners Inc., the folks who own and operate several "Coney" restaurants/diners, best known for their dogs and smothering everything with chili-cheese and ranch, were recently served with a lawsuit stemming from the company allegedly ignoring three waitresses' complaints of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct. The details of the alleged misconduct are rather disturbing, and it really begs the question of how a company could fail to act after hearing about it.

Wells Fargo Misled Customers, Whistleblower Claims

Sometimes when you read the news, you can see the lawsuits coming.

Like the latest whistleblower suit against Wells Fargo. The former head of the bank's foreign-exchange group claims he was fired right before he was scheduled to tell government regulators about allegedly "false and misleading" sales practices at the company.

The lawsuit follows a Wall Street Journal report that federal prosecutors were investigating foreign-exchange trading at the beleagured bank. For general counsel, sometimes it's about knowing what's happening before it hits the news.

When it comes to the future promised by artificial intelligence, one of the great prospects is an inclusive world free from invidious, arbitrary discrimination. Although, at this time, this may be a lofty goal, there may be ways that you can utilize the technology of today to promote inclusivity and the hiring of a diverse workforce.

The big problem with letting AI take over is that data does as data is. And the current subset of data is inherently discriminatory, if not due to intentional discrimination, than due to implicit bias. However, the right software programs can help employers remove the potential for unconscious bias when screening candidates for new hires, or promotions.

Signs of an Incompetent Business Leader

Incompetent business leaders have defining characteristics.

Here are some samples: they can't make decisions; they make bad choices; they are out of touch.

They are also easy to spot; just turn on the nightly news. If only they were as easy to deal with. Short of going elsewhere, here are some ideas:

Elon Musk's Divorce Lawyer Is His GC at Tesla

When should the in-house attorney handle a divorce for the company's chief executive officer?

Like never, unless the CEO is Elon Musk. That's a fact, not an opinion. Musk's divorce attorney is also general counsel for Tesla.

As every lawyer knows, there are potential conflicts galore in that scenario. But if you can get around them, should you even try?

When to Settle a Whistleblower Suit?

There is no one-size-fits-all for when to settle a lawsuit, especially when it comes to whistleblower cases.

Whistleblower suits, in many cases, have the added pressure of government enforcement. And unless you have more resources than the kingdom of Amazon, the government can outspend you in litigation.

That had something to do with why two Utah companies folded for $1.2 million in a whistleblower case. Money and timing were keys to settling the suit, but then there were also the intangible factors.

Target Settles Criminal History/Racial Disparity Case

Doing criminal background checks for new hires is just doing business these days, but not so fast.

A settlement against Target suggests 3.74 million reasons why companies should pay closer attention to how they use criminal histories. If employers are not careful, they may have to pay the hard way.

Target admitted no wrongdoing in the case, but it still has to pay $3.74 million to settle it.