Legal Departments Sending Less Cash to Big Law, Survey Says

Bloomberg Law is reporting that corporate law departments are spending more, but less of that that money is landing in Big Law coffers, according to a new survey.

Altman Weil’s 19th Annual Chief Legal Officer survey revealed that most companies increased their spending between 2017 and 2018. But about a third of legal officers shifted work to lower-priced alternatives, the data indicated.

Survey participants said they received quality work and service at considerable reductions in cost with shifts to smaller firm, reports Bloomberg’s Elizabeth Olson.

Read the Bloomberg Law article.



Tesla Loses a Senior Lawyer Just as SEC Tightens Grip

Bloomberg is reporting that an experienced securities lawyer has left Tesla Inc. just as the company needs one under its fraud settlement with U.S. regulators.

Phil Rothenberg, a vice president in Tesla’s legal department who joined the company in 2011, became general counsel at Sonder, a hospitality startup, on Nov. 5, writes Bloomberg reporter Dana Hull.

Before joining Tesla, Rothenberg was an attorney-adviser for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and has extensive securities law experience.

Read the Bloomberg article.


2018 Third-Party Risk Management Benchmark Report

NAVEX Global has published a new report discussing how to assess your program maturity, gain organizational buy-in and understand the value of a comprehensive third-party due diligence program.

The report can be downloaded from the NAVEX website at no charge.

“Third parties are an extension of your business and expose your organization to reputational and business risks,” NAVEX says on its website. “Help protect your organization with the latest insights, benchmarks and trends around how to manage these business partners.”

The report answers questions such as:

  • What strategies do organizations use to manage third-party risks?
  • How do organizations employ risk-based procedures to manage third-party risks?
  • How do respondents measure the effectiveness of their program?

Download the report.



IADC Journal Covers Asbestos, Punitive Damages and Manufacturers’ Legal Hurdles

The International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC), an invitation-only global legal organization for attorneys who represent corporate and insurance interests, has published its fourth quarter 2018 Defense Counsel Journal (DCJ) with articles on current trends in the practice of law.

The current DCJ issue’s articles explore asbestos tort reform on the state level, the growth of punitive damages in Anglo-Canadian contract law, and legal hurdles that manufacturers face when launching products in the United States.

In a release, the organization, said the DCJ is a quarterly forum for topical and scholarly writings on the law, including its development and reform, as well as on the practice of law in general. DCJ articles are written by members of the IADC, which is a 2,500-member, invitation-only, worldwide organization that serves its members and their clients, as well as the civil justice system and the legal profession.

The DCJ is available for free and without a subscription via the IADC’s website.

The current DCJ issue is the first to be overseen by new editor and former IADC board member Kenneth R. Meyer, a partner in the products liability practice group at McCarter & English, LLP, in Newark, N.J. The issue also is the first under the leadership of new IADC president Craig A. Thompson, a partner at Venable LLP.

Following are brief summaries of key articles included in the fourth quarter 2018 issue of the DCJ:

— “The More Things Change: Bankruptcy Trust Reform and the Status Quo in Asbestos Litigation” – The article debunks plaintiffs’ lawyers’ arguments that trust transparency reforms would delay litigation, deny compensation to the most sympathetic of plaintiffs, and divest plaintiffs of their traditional control over the trust and tort systems. The authors explain how trust transparency reforms have not delayed litigation and have, in fact, accelerated compensation from the asbestos trusts. The article also describes that, where reforms have been enacted, they have achieved their purpose of fostering communication within the two-tiered system of asbestos compensation so that juries can properly account for all of a plaintiff’s exposures to asbestos.

— “Moving Beyond Uberrima Fides? The General Duty of Honesty in Contractual Performance and Punitive Damage Awards in Anglo-Canadian Contract Law” – The article’s authors suggest that the characterization of punitive damages as “the bane of corporate defendants” has perhaps never been more true under Anglo-Canadian contract law. This article demonstrates that while punitive damages for pure breach of contract are undoubtedly exceptional remedies at common law, they are generally larger and more common than ever before, which marks an extraordinary development in Anglo-Canadian contract law considering that only 30 years ago punitive damages were barred for pure breach of contract.

— “Entering the U.S. Market: Legal Hurdles That Manufacturers Must Overcome” – Investigates the life cycle of a product’s development and marketing and provides insight into some of the most common legal hurdles – especially consumer protection lawsuits – faced by manufacturers entering the U.S. market.



Download: New NACD Blue Ribbon Commission Report on Disruptive Risks

National Association of Corporate DirectorsThe  National Association of Corporate Directors has published its 2018 Report of the NACD Blue Ribbon Commission on Adaptive Governance: Board Oversight of Disruptive Risks to provide directors with valuable insights and tools.

How can directors do a thorough job of assessing disruptive risks and then of guiding their companies toward effective responses? More broadly, how can directors fulfill their core responsibilities for overseeing performance, strategy, risk management, and enterprise content management when volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA) are the only constants?

The report provides:

  • a functional definition of disruptive risk
  • characteristics of the current environment—and their implications
  • a definition of adaptive governance as a framework for overseeing disruptive risks
  • the essential components of adaptive governance
  • recommendations for putting adaptive governance into practice

Download the complimentary report.



New Law Firm Study: 4 Tips for Maximizing Value from Law Firms

Exterro has published its 2018 Law Firm Benchmarking Report, in which more than 100 law firm professionals supplied advice and tips for getting more out of a law firm.

This is the third annual edition of the Exterro report.

The report includes:

  • In-depth analysis of how law firms are working with their clients around e-discovery issues
  • New techniques for improving how you communicate and work with your law firms
  • Survey responses from over 100 law firm respondents on 25+ questions

Download the report.




Google Exec Clouded by Scandal is a Veteran Silicon Valley Counsel

David Drummond, the  chief legal officer of Google parent Alphabet Inc. and a one-time Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati partner, was cited in a New York Times report about the allegedly lax approach that Google has taken to relationships between supervisors and their subordinates.

Bloomberg Law focused  on the part of the report that detailed an alleged extramarital affair involving Drummond and a subordinate, an in-house senior contract manager at Google. The affair resulted in the woman giving birth to Drummond’s child, the Times reported.

“The report, which cited [Jennifer] Blakely and other Google employees, said she and Drummond had a son in 2007,” Bloomberg reports. “Thereafter, it said, Drummond disclosed the relationship to the company—and Blakely was asked to leave because relationships between managers and subordinates were ‘discouraged.’”

Read the Bloomberg Law article.




K&L Gates Under Fire from Texas Company in Malpractice Suit

Bloomberg Law reports that K&L Gates LLP is facing a $100 million legal malpractice suit from a Texas semiconductor company, Quantum Materials Corp., over an alleged conflict of interest.

Reporter Sam Skolnik explains that the plaintiff’s petition alleges that the law firm represented lenders in a legal action against the company while also representing Quantum. The petition filed Oct. 16 in District Court of Hays County, Texas, seeks punitive damages.

The complaint says that Quantum retained K&L Gates in 2016 as corporate counsel, and the representation was never ended. But when Quantum became involved in a dispute with two lenders, K&L Gates lawyers represented the lenders against Quantum, according to the complaint.

Read the Bloomberg Law article.



ECVC2018: Ethics & Compliance Virtual Conference

NAVEX Global will present the 2018 Ethics & Compliance Virtual Conference as an online event Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.

This year’s ECVC focuses on putting the ideals of ethics and compliance into practice. Find out how your program should perform through regulatory scrutiny, leadership influence and program enhancements, then deliver quantifiable proof of success.

The conference will feature:

• 4 Learning Tracks
• 3 High-Profile Keynotes
• 13 Hour-Long Sessions
• No Travel; No Cost
• 6000+ Peers for Networking
• Dozens of Free Resources
• Live Speaker Q&A
• On-Demand Access

Register for the virtual conference.




Download: 2018 Corporate Ediscovery Benchmarking Report

Zapproved recently partnered with Corporate Ediscovery to commission an in-depth survey of corporate ediscovery professionals. The resulting benchmark report uncovers key insights about the ediscovery community, including common challenges, aspirations, and approaches to managing each stage of the EDRM.

The 2018 Corporate Ediscovery Benchmarking Report can be download from Zapproved’s website at no charge.

The results and detailed benchmarks include:

  • The volume and types of matters that require ediscovery support
  • How corporate teams are managing each stage of the EDRM – from data preservation through document review
  • Common challenges and goals for 2019 and beyond
  • Best practice adoption rates and barriers

Download the report.



Download: A Field Guide to Bad Directors

National Association of Corporate DirectorsBad corporate directorship can be incredibly detrimental to a company or organization. From inattention to detail to feelings of entitlement, bad board members can seriously impede board operations, waste precious resources, and stifle best-practice corporate governance.

The National Association of Corporate Directors has published  “A Field Guide to Bad Directors,” in which four-time corporate chair and CEO of Special Investigations Michael Pocalyko

  • lays out the defining characteristics of a bad director,
  • identifies 14 of the most prevalent bad director archetypes, and
  • offers suggestions for mitigating the effects of a bad director.

Additionally, Pocalyko interviews three seasoned directors about their personal experiences with deficient board members and what management styles and personal qualities are beneficial in maintaining a high-performance board.

The article can be downloaded at no charge from the NACD website.

Download the article.



Online Quiz Scores Maturity of E-Discovery Process

Exterro has posted an online quiz to quickly find out how mature an e-discovery process is when compared to EDRM Duke Law’s e-discovery maturity scale. The complimentary quiz takes about 10 minutes to complete.

The quiz consists of 20 multiple choice questions based on best practices ranging across the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) from information governance through matter closing.

It will help participants:

  • Understand your organization’s e-discovery maturity
  • Improve your in-house e-discovery process
  • Learn more about what mature e-discovery operations look like

Take the quiz.



Download: Effective Practices for Internal Investigations Led by the Board

National Association of Corporate DirectorsA new article published by the National Association of Corporate Directors discusses the steps a company needs to take before deciding to embark upon a board-led investigation, and provides insight into essential actions the company should take to “weather the storm of an investigation,” like assigning committee responsibilities and having disinterested directors.

Based on best practices discussed at this spring’s AC Committee Chair Advisory Council meeting, this article outlines the key considerations for boards beginning an investigation:

  • Early decisions have far-reaching impacts
  • Keep the external auditor informed, while maintaining privilege
  • Take a proactive approach to remediation
  • Get ahead of reputational damage
  • Discuss whether the circumstances warrant self-reporting

The company said this article helps directors develop an internal investigation protocol to follow should an issue arise, and equips directors with a framework to mitigate the effects of an investigation both internally and externally.

Download the article.



Master Class: Aligning Board Responsibilities

NAVEX Global will present the online master class “Herding Big Cats: Improving Executive & Board Engagement” on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018, beginning at 10:30 a.m. Central time.

Getting positive buy-in needed from an organization’s executives and board members is a common issue for most businesses, NAVEX says on its website. “And, it can be especially difficult for compliance professionals needing to demonstrate the true ROI of their programs. In this Master Class, you’ll learn how to wrangle top-level decision-makers to ensure all executives and board members understand their responsibilities for compliance oversight. Effectively protect your organization from compliance and behavioral risk, and learn why active board engagement is critical for establishing a strong ethical culture from the top down.”

This master class will cover:

  • How to contribute to the goals of the board
  • Rules of engagement for difficult board discussions
  • Common communication mistakes to avoid
  • Meaningful board training methods
  • How to position compliance to get critical program buy-in

Register or get more information.




Budget Benchmarks: Where Do You Stand?

As budget season approaches, a post on the Xakia website takes a look at the financial side of corporate legal operations – from alternative fee arrangements to special considerations for smaller departments.

The post offers some benchmarks to help gauge how a department’s budget compares with others. While every team and company is different, benchmarks can help establish context – or give you fodder to ask for a budget increase, the company says.

Headings include: Legal Budget as a Percentage of Revenue, Legal Budget by Department Size, Legal Budget by Location, Legal Budget by Industry, and Why Budget Matters.

Read the article.



Registration Open for 2018 Eastern District of Texas Bench Bar Conference

Registration has begun for the 2018 Eastern District of Texas Bench Bar Conference, which is being held in conjunction with The Center for American and International Law’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board Bench Bar Conference.

Hosted by the Eastern District of Texas Bar Association, the annual event is one of the largest of its kind nationally, bringing together practicing lawyers, general counsels, in-house counsels, respected judges, and industry experts from across the globe to discuss the latest issues in patent law and intellectual property litigation. Topics will also include Corporate Cyber Threats, Qui Tam litigation, Trade Secret Theft and Protection, and many others.

The Honorable Andrei Iancu, U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), will be the keynote speaker.

The 22nd annual EDTX Bench Bar Conference is set for October 17-19 at the Marriott Legacy Town Center in Plano, and registration information is available here.

Contact Andrea Williams-McCoy for more information on conference programs, registration and lodging at 903-870-0070 or

Just Released: ACC 2018 Global Compensation Report

ACCThe Association of Corporate Counsel has published an in-depth, self-reported compensation survey for in-house counsel and legal operations professionals.

For companies seeking to stay competitive in the marketplace and lawyers considering career moves, access to detailed compensation data for in-house counsel and legal operations professionals is essential, the ACC says on its website.

Based on responses from more than 5,000 lawyers in corporate legal departments from 65 countries and 39 different industry sectors, this first-ever ACC Global Compensation Report is available from the organization.

Download the report.




ConocoPhillips to Hire Baker Botts M&A Partner as GC

Houston-based energy giant ConocoPhillips is expected to name Baker Botts corporate transactional partner Kelly Brunetti Rose of Houston as its new general counsel, according to a report in The Houston Chronicle.

The Texas Lawbook, via the Chronicle, reports that multiple legal industry sources confirm that Rose, who has represented ConocoPhillips and several other major oil and gas companies in dozens of billion-dollar mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and securities offerings, will replace retiring ConocoPhillips general counsel Janet Langford Carrig.

“Rose has led some of the largest oil and gas M&A deals in Texas over the past two decades. She has represented Halliburton, Shell Oil Company, Linn Energy and Waste Management in an assortment of large transactions,” writes Mark Curriden of the Texas Lawbook.

Read the Chronicle article.



Measuring Legal Tech ROI

On its face, ROI seems pretty straightforward – a basic math equation that determines the ratio between an investment’s profit and its cost. But with legal technology, this can get a little nebulous: Your department deals in time, not in widgets, according to a blog post on the website of Xakia.

“Perhaps that’s why 74 percent of law firms in the U.K. don’t even try to calculate the ROI of their legal technology projects, according to a March 2018 report by Lexis Nexis,” Xakia said in the post. “While no similar statistic was available for corporate legal departments, we’d make the educated guess that the majority aren’t monitoring their legal tech return – despite the fact that, as a recent Association of Legal Administration presentation put it, ‘ROI is the only technology acronym that matters.’

“Indeed, ROI is the language of the C-suite, and it’s imperative for in-house lawyers to show fluency. (Recall that one-third of CEOs and directors rank “controlling legal spend” as a top-three priority for law department performance.) You need to know your ROI to demonstrate that you are a good steward of company resources, to test and validate your decision-making, and to inform future projects in your legal technology roadmap.”

Read the article.





Download: Guide to Delegating Legal Contract Responsibility

ContractWorks has published a new guide designed to show how to reassign appropriate tasks and simplify workflows by tapping into the skills and experience of non-legal staff in ways that will optimize the legal department’s time without introducing additional risk or oversight.

A Guide to Delegating Legal Contract Responsibility” is available at ContractWorks’ website at no charge.

“Delegating contract management activities to your non-lawyer professionals has a variety of advantages, but it needs to be planned deliberately and strategically,” the company says on its website. “Make sure that you understand the strengths of the different personnel on your roster, and collaborate with the other areas of your business to make sure that everyone is committed to this new process change.”

The guide discusses:

  • How Delegating Tasks Will Benefit Your Entire Team
  • Ways to Maintain Control Without and Mitigate Risks
  • Best Methods for Building Dedicated Teams
  • How to Assign Ownership to Individual Business Units

Download the guide.