GC Resigns, Stands Accused of Falsifying Death Threats

The former general counsel for the Oklahoma State Department of Health is accused of falsifying death threats against herself and has been charged in Oklahoma County district court, according to KWTV News 9 in Oklahoma City.

Julia Marie Ezell faces three counts of using a computer to send herself death threats and then falsely report a made-up crime. Ezell resigned as health department general counsel on Friday.

State officials said the emails were meant to look like they were coming from angry medical marijuana supporters. The health department recently adopted rules for the implementation of medical marijuana across the state.

Read the KWTV News 9 article.



Webinar: Leveraging the Data in Your Contracts to Prove the Value of Legal

Concord will present a complimentary webinar titled “From Cost Center to Profit Center: Leveraging the Data in Your Contracts to Prove the Value of Legal.”

The event will be Thursday, July 26, 2018, at 10 a.m. Pacific time.

Legal’s new role as a strategic business function has forced legal teams to evolve, shifting from cost-center to profit-center, Concord says on its website. This shift has transformed the overall value legal provides—moving well beyond risk management and cost savings—increasing the pressure on legal teams to become a source of revenue for their organization.

The webinar will equip participants to:

  • Identify the crucial KPIs for Legal when it comes to spend
  • Uncover strategies to take your legal team from cost center to profit center
  • Discover how Leverage the data in your contracts to prove the value of Legal

The webinar is presented in partnership with General Counsel News.

Register for the webinar.




Longtime Carolina Panthers General Counsel Fired

Richard Thigpen has been fired after more than two decades as general counsel of the Carolina Panthers, Thigpen confirmed to The Charlotte Observer.

Thigpen is the second high-profile Panthers executive to leave the team since hedge fund manager David Tepper bought the Panthers for $2.275 billion.

“Their departures come on the heels of the conclusion of an investigation of former team owner Jerry Richardson, who was fined $2.75 million for multiple instances of sexual and racial misconduct in the workplace.,” according to reporters Katherine Peralta and Joseph Person.

Read the Observer article.




Are Your Vendors Putting You at Risk Under California’s New Privacy Law?

Under California’s groundbreaking privacy law, general counsel face stringent compliance requirements for managing the personal data of consumers, including personal data shared with third parties, points out the Association of Corporate Counsel.

The issue can be far-reaching, considering that 60 percent of a company’s personal data resides with third parties, the ACC says on its website.

“Companies must take stock of what personal data their company has, where it resides, how long it’s retained, and third parties with whom they share their data. Third-party diligence is explicit or implied in the CCPA, the GDPR, Colorado’s Privacy Legislation, 23 NYCRR 500, and many others,” the organization warns.

The ACC has posted a white paper titled “Third-Party Data Compliance” to review seven important considerations for every general counsel. The paper can be downloaded at no charge.

The ACC  provides its Vendor Risk Service, the world’s only third-party diligence process designed specifically to help corporate legal teams rapidly assess third parties and meet compliance requirements.

Download the white paper.

Get information on the Vendor Risk Service.



Wynn Resorts’ GC Exits, Adding Turmoil in Founder’s Wake

Bloomberg is reporting that Wynn Resorts Ltd., whose founder stepped down earlier this year over allegations of sexual harassment, said General Counsel Kim Sinatra left her position, marking another high-profile change at the casino company.

Reporters Rob Golum and Scott Moritz write: “Her departure follows other top-level moves at the Las Vegas-based company since the resignation of Chief Executive Officer Steve Wynn in February. Six board members announced they were leaving; three new ones were added, all of them women. Meanwhile, the new CEO, Matt Maddox, has been trying to distance the company from the regime of his predecessor, even going so far as to drop the Wynn name from the new casino the company is building near Boston.”

Sinatra has been general counsel at Wynn since 2004.

Read the Bloomberg article.




Proxy Season Survival Tip: Make Board Composition a Priority

board of directors - conference tableThe National Association of Corporate Directors has published an article titled “Proxy Season Survival Tip: Make Board Composition a Priority” and made it available for downloading.

It’s from the latest edition of NACD Directorship Magazine.

During proxy season, directors may feel as though they’re navigating a minefield of activist issues. Major institutional investors are also taking activist stances, especially in the area of board composition.

This puts boards under pressure to comply with investors’ guidelines. But how? It isn’t possible for boards to track and address many thousands of investor issues.

This article explains how boards can avert activist demands–by knowing what their shareholders are thinking and staying ahead of possible grievances. Directors can make needed changes in the boardroom by

  • increasing board diversity with both female and minority members;
  • strengthening risk oversight with tools and resources provided by NACD; and
  • updating governance guidelines in light of those proposed by investors.

Download the article.



3 Simple Steps to Creating a Contract Lifecycle Management Shortlist

Conga and Gartner are offering Gartner’s Fast-Track to Creating a Contract life Cycle Management Shortlist With These 3 Steps to help companies kick-start the contract lifecycle management evaluation process by identifying what exactly is important to the organization and which tools can support the abundant needs of all stakeholders.

“The business landscape has becoming increasingly fast-paced and competitive,” Conga says on its site. “Having visibility into contract status while collaborating with stakeholders throughout your entire enterprise is imperative for success. From creation all the way through negotiation and execution, gain insight into your business with the addition of a contract lifecycle management (CLM) solution.”

The CLM market has become increasingly crowded, so finding a solution that supports the volume needs of enterprise contracts can be challenging.

Download the guide.



Live Webinar: Using A.I. to Make Sure You’re Covered This Summer

LawGeexLawGeex will present a live webinar titled “How Contract Review Automation Helps Mitigate Risk to Your Organization,” on Wednesday, July 18, 2018, at 2 p.m. EDT.

The 60-minute event will cover how to:

  • Automate contract review
  • Enable company-wide compliance with corporate policy
  • Mitigate an organization’s contracting risk using AI
  • Free up a legal team’s time for more strategic work

Register for the webinar.



Working In-House And Want To Switch Companies? Good Luck!

The playbook for moving between in-house and Biglaw is well known and pretty straightforward, points out Above the Law.

“But if you are working in-house and want to move to an in-house role in another company, well, the playbook is not as clear and the path is a little more obscure. Even though you may be more marketable given your previous in-house experience, the application process can be a challenge,” writes columnist Stephen R. Williams, in-house counsel with a multi-facility hospital network.

He offers a sampling of some of the most common interview questions and some possible honest answers, which could run afoul of attorney-client privilege.

Read the Above the Law column.




Former ICE General Counsel Heads to Prison for Identity Theft

Government Executive reports that a former top legal adviser to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau was sentenced to 48 months in prison for wire fraud and identity theft affecting aliens, the Justice Department announced on Thursday.

Reporter Charles S. Clark writes that “Raphael Sanchez, 44, of the ICE Office of Principal Legal Advisor based in the Pacific Northwest, had pleaded guilty in February to running a scheme to defraud aliens in various stages of immigration removal by using their personally identifiable information to open lines of credit and personal loans in their names. He would then manipulate their credit bureau files, transfer funds to himself and purchase goods for himself using credit cards issued in their names, [the Department of] Justice said.”

Sanchez admitted to using the agency’s computer database as well as paper files to steal the personal information.

Read the Government Executive article.



Digital Content Marketing Survey – How to Reach In-House Counsel

Law firms have made massive investments in content, mostly aimed at deepening their engagement with in-house counsel. But, for the most part, their efforts are falling short, according to a recent survey by strategic communications firm Greentarget and consulting firm Zeughauser Group.

Only about half of in-house attorneys consider law-firm content “good to excellent,” the same as in 2017, and up only slightly since 2015, according to the 2018 State of Digital & Content Marketing Survey, released by Greentarget and Zeughauser Group.

But the survey also provides clear guidance on how firms can make inroads with their most important readers. For our seventh annual survey we asked in-house counsel not only about their content consumption habits, but also what content they value most, where they get it, and how often they go there. The survey found that:

• In-house counsel want content that helps them do their jobs. More than three-quarters of our respondents say they most value utility in the content they consume – ahead of timeliness (58 percent), reliable sources (56 percent) and compelling headlines (51 percent).
• And they want it in the form of articles, alerts and newsletters, respectively. Those are respondents’ most preferred content vehicles.
• Email works – when it’s good. Forty percent of in-house counsel say they get information from email notifications every day – but only 25 percent say they find them valuable. That’s a huge opportunity to reach clients and prospects, and to stand out from the noise, by creating email alerts that deliver on the qualities in-house lawyers are looking for.
• Traditional media most trusted. Fifty-four percent of respondents go to traditional media (e.g., The Wall Street Journal) on a daily basis for legal, business and industry news and information, and 45 percent find such sources very valuable – far above any other source.
• Brevity matters. Nearly a third of in-house counsel value shorter content, while only 5 percent value longer pieces. They also want email alerts to be brief. And they only rank in-depth as a key attribute for a single content category – research reports.
• Podcasts show promise. More than a quarter of respondents put podcasts among their preferred content vehicles – ahead of video and perhaps surprising for a relatively new medium. Audio content gives consumers hands- and eyes-free information for their commutes or during workouts. And podcasts are the only medium where respondents say they consider entertainment value – an opportunity to rise above the noise for firms that are willing to break from the industry’s staid conventions.
• On social media, more noise than signal. About a third of in-house counsel look at social media every day, but only 11 percent find anything of value there. By contrast, less than a quarter view industry association publications and websites every day, but 43 percent find those valuable.

“This is the age of information overload,” said John Corey, founding partner of Greentarget. “In-house counsel want content that’s useful, timely, well-sourced and provides lively engagement starting from the subject line. If they want to elevate the conversation, firms have to quickly and efficiently tell in-house counsel what they have to say, why it matters and what law departments should do about it.”

The 2018 report went further than in past years, identifying which content types were most preferred by in-house counsel – and what attributes are most valued regarding those content types. Respondents’ top three content types are articles, alerts and newsletters – and in each case, they want that content to be relevant and timely. For articles and newsletters, respondents want content to be educational – and they prefer that alerts be brief.

“Drilling down to this level of detail about what is and isn’t working when it comes to law firm-generated content is important – and consequential,” said Mary K. Young, a partner with Zeughauser Group. “Firms can take this information and the related guidance and find ways to stand out and build their brands with in-house counsel, who are, of course, key decision makers within their organizations.”



Port of Seattle Ousts GC Over Workplace Complaint – and Gives Him $500,000 Payout

The Port of Seattle will pay half-a-million dollars to its longtime chief lawyer to leave the agency after investigating a workplace complaint lodged against him, according to The Seattle Times.

Craig Watson had been with the Port for 28 years, serving as general counsel for the past 13 years.

The Port commission voted unanimously to fire him and give him $500,000 as part of a settlement agreement to avoid a potential legal battle over his employment status, reports Mike Rosenberg.

The Port’s executive director wrote in a memo to commissioners that an investigation had been launched after “a recent internal workplace complaint about Craig Watson.” The findings showed “the incident was insufficient to support” the firing, but the executive director and the commissioners “have lost trust and confidence” in Watson’s ability carry out his duties and responsibilities, the director wrote.

Read the Seattle Times article.



Invitation: SCCE’s Compliance & Ethics Institute

The Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics will present its 17th Annual Compliance & Ethics Institute, October 21-24, 2018, in Las Vegas, with top industry experts and professionals from around the world.

At this four-day networking and educational event, participants will gain information they need to effectively manage their compliance programs and mitigate risk, the SCCE says on its website.

At the Compliance & Ethics Institute, participants will:

  • Network with over 1,800 professionals from all industries and 40 countries.
  • Choose from 10 learning tracks, 100+ sessions, and over 150 speakers.
  • Get up-to-date on issues relevant to your current challenges, including global antitrust compliance, cyber security, anti-corruption, and harassment and discrimination prevention.
  • Leave with practical solutions you can immediately put into practice at your organization.

This conference is for compliance and risk professionals and those who work with them in an advisory or partnership capacity. Positions include: in-house and outside counsel, audit managers and officers, consultants, corporate executives, human resource managers, privacy officers, researchers and policy makers, risk managers, staff educator and trainers, and more.

Get more information.



Take This Fit and Shove It: The In-House Counsel Hiring Process

Hiring - HR- employmentA company’s human resources department has only one criterion for a candidate for an in-house position, but “fit” isn’t the real issue, suggests an Above the Law columnist identified as “a harried in-house counsel at a well-known company that everyone loves to hate.”

Using the pseudonym of “Kay Thrace,” the author recalls her days in Biglaw, when the firm HR team carefully culled thousands of résumés of the ivy elite and organized perfectly balanced recruiting lunches.

“[I]n Biglaw, every single one of us knew that we were only as good as last year’s talent pool, so we had to strive to get the best and brightest. In-house? Not so much.”

It’s different in the business world, however, because “apart from a few basic qualifications (do you have a law degree, are you in good standing, have you killed someone in this state in the last five years, etc.), HR has nothing else to hang their hats on other than fit.”

Forget fit, she writes: “Do you know when you’re being patently misled by the business and are you gracious about rectifying the situation and guiding it to a satisfactory, risk-mitigating conclusion? Yes? You’re freaking hired.”

Read the Above the Law article.




Shearman & Sterling to Host Women General Counsel Roundtable

Shearman & Sterling will host the inaugural conference for leading women general counsel and chief legal officers on June 14 in the firm’s New York office.

The full-day event will include high-profile speakers from media, industry, government and non-profits, interactive presentations, and the chance to connect with colleagues who are leading and changing the legal landscape. Attendees will take away, among other things, a timely analysis of critical corporate governance and global mergers and acquisitions developments impacting public and private companies, the firm said in a release.

David Beveridge, Shearman & Sterling Senior Partner, and Donna Parisi, partner and Global Head of Finance, will deliver the opening remarks to this exclusive event.

Read details about the roundtable.



Resigned Pruitt EPA Aide Lands GC Job in Oklahoma

A former aide to embattled EPA director Scott Pruitt who has come under scrutiny for getting a significant pay bump has been hired to a position with the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission, reports KFOR-TV.

The commission voted unanimously to hire Sarah Greenwalt as the agency’s new general counsel.

“Greenwalt made headlines after she received a 52 percent raise, bringing her salary to $164,200 while at the Environmental Protection Agency before Pruitt reversed it amid public outcry,” according to the report.

Read the KFOR article.



New Survey Results: Examining the State of E-Discovery 2018

Exterro has published “The State of E-Discovery 2018,” the results of a survey of industry trends, practices and challenges. The publication is available for downloading at no charge.

Pulling from the most recent research into the economics, in-house legal departments, the judiciary, and more, this State of E-Discovery 2018 report provides a holistic overview of where e-discovery is, as an industry, today.

Download this complimentary report and learn:

  • How trends in e-discovery are affecting in-house legal departments and law firms
  • How technology is affecting the way professionals practice e-discovery
  • Which challenges in-house legal departments and law firms need to address to continue growing

Download the survey results.



Cengage Announces Appointment of Laura Stevens as EVP and GC

Laura Stevens has been promoted to executive vice president and general counsel of Cengage, an education and technology company.

She joined Cengage in 2003, and worked on efforts to ready the business for the transition to digital. Based in the Boston headquarters, Stevens will serve on the executive team and will lead the legal function in support of the company’s strategy, Cengage said in a release.

“Among the many impressive highlights of Laura’s career here at Cengage are her forward-thinking efforts to realign our Intellectual Property licensing function to enable the Cengage Unlimited model, the industry’s first-of-its kind subscription service,” said Michael Hansen, CEO, Cengage. “Laura has been a powerhouse on our Legal team over the years, and I welcome the addition of her voice on the Executive Team as we continue to break with tradition to increase access to education.”

In her previous role as senior vice president and deputy general counsel, Stevens designed and recruited a 50+ person legal team to reflect a rapid print-to-digital transformation. In addition, she established the Cengage Privacy Office, creating industry-leading standards for responsible data stewardship. The company said Stevens continues to drive legal efforts around industry-wide implementation of anti-piracy bestpPractices with partners, which have resulted in a double-digit decrease in counterfeit texts among some of the company’s largest distributors.

Over the past 15 years, Stevens served a number of roles within the Cengage (and formerly Thomson Learning) legal team, including assistant general counsel, intellectual property, and publishing counsel. Prior to Cengage, she was an attorney at Brown Raysman LLP in New York City.

Stevens holds a B.A. in Political Science and Art History from the University of Rochester and a J.D. from Columbia Law School.



ACC Annual Meeting: Sneak Peek at New Programming

The 2018 annual meeting of the Association of Corporate Counsel will be Oct. 21-24 in Austin, Texas.

Participants at this year’s event may select from 110 CLE/CPD programs.

The complete schedule is posted online.

Some of the topics are:

Compliance & Ethics
Corporate & Securities
Employment & Labor
Environmental & Sustainability
Financial Services
Health Law
Information Governance
Insurance Staff Counsel
Intellectual Property
International Legal Affairs
IT, Privacy & eCommerce
Law Department Management
New to In-house
Nonprofit Organizations
Real Estate
Small Law Department
Sports & Entertainment

Jason Dorsey, Co-Founder & President, Center for Generational Kinetics will be the keynote speaker on Monday, Oct. 22.

Get more information.



In-House Forum: Guard Your Company Against Internal Cybersecurity Threats

The 4th annual Bloomberg Law In-House Forum will Explore the steps that general counsel need to take to mitigate the internal cybersecurity threat.

The event will be Wednesday, June 27, 2018, at the Grand Hyatt San Francisco, 345 Stockton Street, San Francisco 94108.

Specifically, the event will dissect one of the most pressing issues affecting the modern corporate workplace: cybersecurity threats from its own employees. Participants will learn how general counsel can effectively partner with other teams at the organization to guard against this growing risk.

Speakers will guide the discussion, outlining how corporate counsel can build relationships between IT and Human Resources in order to act in a leadership role, crafting an effective risk avoidance plan that includes auditing, training, and both preemptive and post-breach initiatives.

Register for the event.