Murdoch’s GC Who Saw Fox Through Crises to Exit After Deal

Bloomberg is reporting that Gerson Zweifach, the lawyer who guided billionaire Rupert Murdoch and his family through the British phone-hacking scandal, will step down as general counsel of 21st Century Fox Inc. once the media company completes its $71 billion asset sale to Walt Disney Co.

Zweifach, who has worked Murdoch since since 2012, will return to Williams & Connolly after the deal closes in the first half of 2019, Fox said in a statement Thursday.

“Zweifach saw the company through several challenges, including a sex-harassment scandal at Fox News, an unsuccessful bid for Time Warner Inc. and now the company’s breakup in a sale to Disney,” writes reporter Anousha Sakoui.

Read the Bloomberg 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.



Cryptocurrency GC Has Left the Company at an Awkward Time

Brynly Llyr, general counsel of Ripple, one of the world’s leading cryptocurrency companies, has left the payment and remittance network, reports Quartz’s Private Key newsletter.

Quartz reporter Matthew De Silva explains: “Ripple is gearing up for a class-action battle about whether its XRP cryptocurrency is a security or not, and has bolstered its legal team by retaining heavyweights like former US Securities and Exchange Commission chair Mary Jo White and the regulator’s former director of enforcement, Andrew Ceresney. Although Llyr is an experienced attorney with impressive credentials, she doesn’t have the same sway as some of these other legal advisors. Still, the turnover on Ripple’s in-house legal team comes at an awkward time, given the impending case.”

Read the Quartz 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.



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.



LegalTech by the Numbers: In-House Lawyers Share Wants, Needs and Pain Points

In-house counsel responses to Xakia’s Legal Operations Health Check provide a quantitative look at the real state of legal operations in departments of all sizes, the company says on its website.

The responses show that legal departments are looking for matter management tools, litigation management and e-discovery tools, intellectual property management, and contract automation tools.

As for pain points, large departments “voiced discontent with their existing document management and knowledge management tools; 43 percent said their current systems don’t meet their needs, and another 14 percent admitted to not using these tools well. Only 14 percent said their department used document management and knowledge management tools ‘moderately well’ or better. (Perhaps this is solace for the 63 percent of small departments that said they do not have any document management system.)”

Read the report.




Outgoing Wynn Resorts Ex-GC Kim Sinatra to Get Big Cash Settlement

Former Wynn Resorts Ltd. executive vice president and general counsel Kim Sinatra will receive a $1.8 million cash settlement as she leaves the company, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

A Securities and Exchange Commission filing included a copy of the five-page settlement agreement as well as a 26-page employment agreement between the company and Sinatra’s successor, Ellen Whittemore, writes Richard N. Velotta.

“Whittemore, a gaming attorney with 30 years’ experience and a former shareholder in the Las Vegas law office of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, will be paid $600,000 a year, plus benefits,” according to Velotta.

Read the Review-Journal article.



The General Counsel Bringing Home the Big Bucks

Above the Law reports that a new ranking of compensation of general counsel shows that each of the GCs in the top 10 made more than $3 million in 2017.

Eric Grossman of Morgan Stanley tops the list with compensation last year of nearly $7 million.

Other companies in the top 10 in GC pay include American Express Co., Twenty-First Century Fox, Walt Disney, Leucadia, CBS, Halliburton, Microsoft, HRG Group and Netflix.

Corporate Counsel created the ranking, which considered base salary, cash bonus, and nonequity incentives.

Read the Above the Law article.



SCCE Announces Speakers for Annual Compliance & Ethics Institute

The Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics has announced the lineup of keynote speakers for the 17th Annual Compliance & Ethics Conference. The event will be Oct. 21-24, 2018, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Scott Eblin, author of The Next Level and Overworked and Overwhelmed, will speak on Monday, Oct. 22, 8:30-9:30 a.m.

Amber Mac, a TV/radio host of Internet of Things, will speak on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 8:15-9:15 a.m.

Ty Francis, MBE, a global governance and ethics advisor, will speak on Monday, Oct. 22, 3:15-4:15 p.m.

On Tuesday afternoon, a panel discussion will consider “What We Need to Know About #MeToo.”

Panelists will be Jenny O’Brien, JD, CHC, CHPC, Chief Compliance Officer, UnitedHealthcare; Rebecca Walker, Partner, Kaplan & Walker; Paul E. Fiorelli, JD, MBA, Director, Cintas Institute for Business Ethics and Professor of Legal Studies, Xavier University; and Robin H. Everhart, Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Cintas Corporation.

Register for the conference.





Google Just Promoted Its Top Lawyer to Run Global Affairs

CNBC is reporting that Google has promoted its general counsel and long-time employee Kent Walker to senior vice president of global affairs.

In his new role, Kent Walker will  oversee Google’s policy, legal, trust and safety, and corporate philanthropy teams.

“In this more public-facing position, his role will be similar to how former CEO Eric Schmidt often represented Google’s interests to governments, before he stepped down from his executive chairman role last December,” explains reporter Jillian D’Onfro. “It’s also similar to the role Brad Smith plays for Microsoft.”

Read the CNBC article.



Facebook GC Leaving as the Company Grapples With Election Aftermath, Federal Investigation

Colin Stretch, Facebook’s top lawyer and the man who led Facebook’s investigation into Russian election interference efforts following the 2016 U.S. presidential election, is leaving the company at the end of the year, according to a Recode report.

Stretch posted on Tuesday that he’s planning to leave the company but will stay on until the end of the year to help find his replacement, writes reporter Kurt Wagner.

Wagner adds:

Stretch’s departure comes during a stressful time for Facebook’s legal team. Not only is the company still grappling with the controversial role it played in the 2016 U.S. election — Russia used to platform to try and divide U.S. voters with inflammatory and inaccurate posts — but it’s also gearing up for the 2018 midterms. Company executives have been open in saying that they expect foreign governments might try again to sway voters.

Read the Record article.



Abuse Allegations Arise in Wake of Lionsgate GC’s 2017 Departure

The former general counsel of Lionsgate Entertainment left the company amid allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse, reports Variety, citing a story in The Wall Street Journal.

“Wayne Levin resigned from the company in November of last year,” writes Gene Maddaus. “A former subordinate, Wendy Jaffe, told the Journal that Levin mistreated her for more than a decade, including non-consensual sexual conduct in 2002 and 2003. Jaffe left the company in 2016, and received a $2.5 million settlement.”

Jaffe said Lionsgate had violated a non-disclosure agreement, giving her the opportunity to speak about her experiences.

Jaffe was executive vice president of legal affairs and reported to Levin during her tenure.

Read the Variety article.




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.