In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog

July 2015 Archives

Your company is being sued and your executive officers are soon to be deposed. Congratulations! No one is buying cake and celebrating when corporate officers are called in for depositions, but thorough, effective depo. prep is one way for in-house counsel to demonstrate their value to the company.

While corporate officers might not view deposition prep as the most profitable use of their time, devoting significant efforts to preparing effectively can help them reduce costs from a negative judgment or lengthy trial. Here are three tips for how to prep an executive for a deposition:

California dreams are often more like nightmares for many in-house counsel. In-house counsel have a largely negative view of the state's litigation and regulatory climate, according to a new survey by the law firm Archer Norris.

In-house lawyers perceive litigation as a greater risk in California than other states. The state's legal environment is "hella burdensome," they claim.

Litigators usually aren't natural investigators, but in-house counsel can often be called on to play that role. Whether it's responding to an allegation of harassment, accusations of discrimination, or internal whistle blowing, in-house counsel will sometimes have to play the role of Sherlock Holmes, rather than ... whoever played Sherlock's lawyer.

That means taking a different approach to investigating complaints, often beginning with a simple investigatory interview. Here are seven tips to help guide your way through the investigation process.

In-house jobs are in demand. There is rarely a shortage of candidates for an in-house position. That means that prospective corporate counsel will need to truly stand out in order to land a position in-house.

If you manage to get an interview for an in-house position, don't think that your skills, talent, and experience alone will be enough to carry you through. In-house interviews require a bit more. Here are three tips to help you master yours:

Violating the Americans with Disabilities Act is a simple way to end up on the losing end of a lawsuit. Fail to comply with ADA public accommodation requirements and you could find yourself sued for counters that are too high, aisles that are too narrow, and now, even websites that are inaccessible to people with disabilities.

The Department of Justice announced way back in 2010 that it was revising ADA regulations to ensure accessibility and nondiscrimination on the Internet. Five years later, little headway has been made. Don't let that trick you into complacency, however. In the DOJ's view, the ADA already applies to the Internet. Responsible GCs should ensure that their company websites are ADA accessible sooner rather than later.

If you’ve been woken up by a databreach nightmare recently, you wouldn’t be the only one. From the federal government to garden-variety cheaters, it seems that no one is safe from hackers these days. For a GC, few things are worse than being notified that the company’s confidential data has been compromised.

Don’t let yourself be paralyzed by data breach fears, however. Careful planning can help companies avoid data breaches and respond quickly and effectively should they occur. These three questions can help get your legal department started on that process.

It's no secret that the legal profession has been slow to cultivate and support a diverse workforce. Law is one of the whitest, most male-dominated professions, losing to the medical, engineering, and even tech industries when it comes to diversity.

Yet, many in-house legal departments are faced with corporate diversity initiatives which seek to strengthen diversity within the company and its partners. Here's how CGs can help accomplish those goals, helping to lead the way to a more diverse legal profession despite barriers in the industry.

You knew it was coming and now it's here. The Obama administration announced the long anticipated expansion of overtime requirements last month. Under the proposed new rules, millions of white collar workers, previously exempt, will now qualify for overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours a week.

The new white collar overtime rules are expected to come into effect in 2016. In-house legal departments should start preparing for the change now.

If you're in-house in a heavily regulated industry, you know that government rulemaking can have a major impact on your business' day to day practices. But you don't have to be handling toxic waste or private medical records to have a stake in government regulation. Even a medium sized company may want to influence white collar overtime rules or Affordable Care Act regulations, for example.

In order to influence government rulemaking, you need to know how it works. Here's a quick overview:

If your company is looking to do business in China, it's not alone. China has quickly become one of the world's largest consumer markets and manufacturing nations, making business in China ever more common -- despite the Chinese market's recent turmoil.

When a company starts looking towards China, its legal department needs to prepare. Doing business with China is unique in many respects and poses particular issues and challenges for American in-house counsel. Here are five considerations to keep at the forefront when preparing to do business in China:

Happy Shark Week, in-house counsel! As Discovery celebrates sharks for the 28th year, we at FindLaw are highlighting the sharks in the legal profession. This topic raises the question: who's the head shark of Discovery's legal team? Meet Bruce Campbell, General Counsel and Chief Development Officer at Discovery Communications.

Campbell has been Discovery's GC since 2010 and has seen everything from the creation of the classic film "Sharknado" to the channel's partnership with Oprah Winfrey. We're sure he's seen his share of shark-bite related matters as well.

Whether you're a legal department of one or in charge of a behemoth in-house team, managing a legal department is no easy task -- especially if you're doing it blindly. How exactly do you track your performance or know if you are maximizing your department's resources?

Metrics, of course. Thankfully, Thomson Reuters, FindLaw's parent company, has an extensive series on legal department metrics over at its Corporate Counsel Blog. We think these metrics should be integrated into every in-house teams' practice. Here are some highlights:

No company likes to lose valuable employees -- given how much it costs to hire, train, and develop employees, pretty much all of them are valuable. What's worse is when a skilled employee leaves to work for the competition. As Chris Brown so eloquently put it, highly skilled professionals ain't loyal.

What's a GC to do? Slip in non-compete clauses and other post-employment restrictions into all employment agreements, of course. However, given recent updates in the law, it might be time to update your standard boilerplate -- or consider revising them all together. Here's what to keep in mind:

If you're an Anglophile or just in-house at a company that does frequent work with the Brits -- either way, you might benefit from becoming a solicitor in England and Wales. Becoming a solicitor (that's English for "attorney") can help you understand the laws and regulations of England and Wales and can even allow you to practice in the United Kingdom, should the need ever arise.

Becoming a solicitor is actually quite feasible. According to Above the Law, a committed in-house attorney could accomplish the task in a matter of months.