Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Susan Hackett on NPR

ACC's General Counsel, Susan Hackett, was interviewed on NPR sharing her insight on the new eDiscovery rules. New rules take effect that help companies decide how many e-mails and other digital items they have to keep in case someone sues them and demands the documents be brought to court. Even small companies can generate millions of digital documents in a very short time, and systems for managing them can be expensive.

Click here to listen

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

ACC Fellow to be Honored for Katrina Work

Reilly Morse, the ACC/Equal Justice Works Disaster Relief Fellow, will be recognized by the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law with the Edwin D. Wolf Award, for performing pro bono, or no-fee work, in public interest law.

Read More about Mr. Morse and other attorneys recognized by the Committee

If you would like to support ACC's Disaster Relief Fellowship, please contact Susan Hackett at hackett@acc.com, or Eve Runyon at runyon@acc.com. Every $75,000 ACC raises will place another Fellow on the ground where pro bono services are desperately needed. If you would like to make a contribution toward this fellowship fund, contact LeAnna Hart Gipson at Equal Justice Works at lgipson@equaljusticeworks.org.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Silicon Valley Companies Looking for a Few Good GCs

Jessie Seyfer, of The Recorder, writes about the worlds biggest tech companies and their scramble to fill leadership positions within their legal departments. Click here to read more.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Does it Matter How They Spend Their Money?

In a story covered by law.com, a New Jersey judge has ordered Merck & Co. to release records documenting how much it spent on a trial involving its Vioxx painkiller. Outside counsel for Merck disagreed with the judge's decision and stated that what defense lawyers spend has no relation to plaintiffs lawyers' expenses. But since the order was made as part of the discovery process, Merck couldn't appeal.

Merck has reserved $970 million for legal costs and spent $285 million of that last year. So, how much was spent on litigating whether Vioxx caused the victims heart attacks or the consumer fraud issue?

Read this article on law.com

Monday, October 16, 2006

ACC's Annual Meeting

The ACC Annual Meeting is less than a week away. The office is a buzz with activity, as we prepare to journey across the country to meet our members. This will be my second Annual Meeting, and I must say, I'm more than excited. It's always such a pleasure to get out of the office and meet the membership. It gives me a chance to find out what it is you're looking for from ACC Online. My ears are always open--what do you want to see more of on our site? How do you like our recent website redesign? How can we make your visit to acc.com more productive? Looking forward to seeing some old faces and meeting some new ones! See you in San Diego.

Nichole Opkins, Esq.

In the News: Tough Times for In-house Lawyers?

That's what the Wall Street Journal's Ashby Jones is reporting today on page A12. The story says that "at least seven general counsels...have left their jobs in the wake of a backdating investigation." You should be able to access this story on the WSJ's law page. (Registration may be required.)

Now, will someone remind the WSJ that counsel needs no "s" when plural? Thanks.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

2006 ABA Survey: Lawyers More Mobile but Stuck on Basics

Lawyers are always on the go. Whether it's off to a contract negotiation or running to the courtroom we are always moving. And the technology that gives us the leverage to keep on top of what's going on back in the office, no matter where we are, is priceless. But are attorneys using it to the fullest extent possible?Read Laura Ikens article on attorneys and their technology woes at law.com in her article 2006 ABA Survey: Lawyers More Mobile but Stuck on Basics

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

In the News: Heineman on Public Policy

GE's Ben Heineman, one of the in-house counsel community's most noted members, discusses why transnational corporations need to be proactive in their public policy efforts. He explains GE's approach and identifies the roles of both in-house and outside counsel.

You can see his insights on--you guessed it!--law.com today.

Monday, September 18, 2006

In the News: Pro Bono

The always reliable law.com has a very nice story about corporate legal departments' pro bono efforts, which focus specifically on programs pioneered by ACC: Corporate Pro Bono and Streetlaw. Find out what companies like Merck are doing and get inspired.

Monday, September 11, 2006

What In-house Lawyers Wish Law Firms Knew

Take a look at Bob Gans, Legal Times article, 13 Simple Steps: What In-house Lawyers Wish Law Firms Knew. He covers the high points, for sure. What else do you wish your outside counsel understood about you and your business?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Greetings from Biloxi, Mississippi, home base for the Equal Justice Works Katrina Legal Fellow sponsored by ACC

I am Reilly Morse, a third-generation Mississippi attorney with the

Mississippi Center for Justice. MCJ is our only independent home-grown, home-owned statewide public interest lawfirm. Its focus is social and economic justice. Our headquarters is in the state capitol, Jackson. In December, 2005, MCJ opened its first branch office in Biloxi to assist with the legal needs of hurricane victims across the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

ACC’s sponsorship of my position at MCJ has assured there will be a voice speaking for the lowest-income residents in the poorest state in the nation impacted by the worst hurricane in American history. Thank you for this indispensable resource.

Traditionally, MCJ focuses on impact litigation rather than direct services. However, Hurricane Katrina destroyed offices and residences of coastal legal services centers, and so MCJ stepped in to help fill the gap. In cooperation with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and an array of volunteer lawyers from the smallest firms to national corporate law departments, MCJ manned disaster recovery centers and conducted over 20 disaster recovery workshops in impacted minority communities across the coast. We worked on FEMA benefits, SBA loans, insurance, evictions, foreclosures, contract disputes, and more. To get an idea of what we faced, take a look at MCJ’s short film, New Foundations and the Lawyers Committee’s short film, The New Homeless.

The voice for vulnerable storm victims was also heard in official chambers through my participation in the Affordable Housing Sub-Committee of the Governor’s Commission, and the Governor’s Housing Policy Council. Working with national and local partners, MCJ also presented comments to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development urging greater equity in Mississippi’s plans to use federal hurricane recovery funds and gathered thousands of supporting signatures.

MCJ played a pivotal role in the formation of an alliance of over 30 service organizations focusing on low-income and minority populations known as the Steps Coalition. “Steps” draws its inspiration from the concrete steps that alone remain after a hurricane. The Steps Alliance was highlighted at a joint Oxfam-America – NAACP Town Meeting in Gulfport on August 26, 2006, attended by the heads of Oxfam, NAACP, the Lawyers Committee, and actor/activist Danny Glover. I was a member of the local panel of experts which followed.

I contributed a section on predatory lending to “Envisioning A Better Mississippi,” the NAACP report on Hurricane Katrina. I also was acknowledged in Oxfam America’s “Forgotten Communities, Unmet Promises” report.

In the coming weeks, I hope to interest ACC members in augmenting these efforts with pro bono assistance on tax, corporate, and real estate aspects of the Hurricane Katrina recovery.

Written By:
Reilly Morse
ACC's Equal Justice Works Katrina Fellow
through the Equal Justice Works Program

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

In the News: GC's Top Law Firm Picks

Which law firm is the favorite of Fortune 250 general counsel? Which are the top firms for litigation? Why have DC firms mysteriously disappeared from the list? Are companies still going through the "convergence" process? Was going to the Fortune 500 just too much effort?

To get the answers to these questions (except the Fortune 500 one), check out the story on law.com. You can also access a chart showing which law firms companies use...if you register.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

In the News: GC Fired Over Backdating Scandal

Are GC's especially vulnerable in the current wave of backdating scandals? One reporter thinks so and points to the case of Kent Hart Roberts, GC of McAfee, Inc., fired over a stock backdating "episode." You can read the full article on law.com.

If you want to know how to be prepared when it comes to questions about backdating stock options, register for ACC's upcoming webcast on September 7.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

In the News: Going Dark to Avoid SarbOx?

New Jersey Law Journal probes whether more public companies are going private or "going dark" (deregistering their stock with the SEC) in order to avoid the onerous reporting requirements of Sarbanes-Oxley. Read all about it on law.com today.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

In the News: Let's Make a Deal!

Corporate Counsel's Sue Reisinger reports on the increase in deferred prosecution and non-prosecution deals between the DOJ and companies under investigation. Read the full story, "Trying Not to Keep Up With the Andersons" on law.com.

Bonus: ACC's Susan Hackett is quoted in the article...twice!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

In the News: You're No SuperLawyer! (at least in New Jersey)

A New Jersey Supreme Court ethics panel ruled to prohibit New Jersey lawyers from advertising their inclusion in or participating in the selection process for two lawyer guides, "Best Lawyers in America" and "SuperLawyers." The panel believes these types of guides violate the rule of professional conduct by suggesting that one lawyer is better than another. Read the full story.

Is this a victory for the profession or an ill-conceived crusade? What do you think?

Monday, July 24, 2006

In the News: The Latest Twist in the KPMG Case

Like any good summer blockbuster, the thrills just keep on coming in the KPMG case. Previously, Judge Kaplan ruled that prosecutors had gone to too far by demanding that KPMG cut off legal fees for the 17 defendants in the case if it wished to be deemed "cooperative." Kaplan went so far as to urge the defendants to sue KPMG for said legal fees...and they did. Now, three of the defendants are seeking to suppress proffer statements they made to prosecutors, arguing that they would have never met with prosecutors had the legal fees issue not been hanging over their heads. Kaplan has yet to rule.

Read all about it on law.com today.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Backdating Scandals: What's REALLY Going On?

Media coverage of backdating scandals, newly-released research indicating widespread backdating practices in corporations, and hush-hush hints of allegations pending and charges soon to be filed, dominated the business news pages of the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and the legal media for the last few days. What's really going on here?

My conversations with CLOs on this issue indicate that while "true" backdating is a heinous practice, many of the current allegations levied by the governance ratings organizations, the SEC, and the media have swept into that category a whole bunch of practices that:

a.) aren't illegal (and indeed were tacitly condoned by auditors and the SEC)
b.) have been common practice in companies that have always prided themselves on the integrity in their compensation processes,
c.) have been openly disclosed (so there's no concern over super-secret executive shenanigans) and
d.) have CLOS and the business leaders they advise furious about being categorized as engaging in corrupt practices that inappropriately enriched company executives.

Companies that as a common practice choose a prospective or current date to grant options and then get that grant authorized by the Board's compensation committee members for approval (say, by passing a date of July 6 through telephonic approval on or before July 6), but who did not complete the paperwork to make the transaction complete for accounting purposes until later (say, July 19) are not appropriately swept into the same category as folks who decide on July 19 that they'd like to grant options dated July 6. To my (admittedly-non-securities-expert) mind, these two activities are entirely different things, and evidence entirely different mind-sets. But I'm talking to lots of people whose companies are being investigated for the former practice, as if they've engaged in some kind of secret criminal conspiracy to unjustly enrich business team members.

Clearly, one of the benchmarks emerging for companies that may have chosen dates ad hoc in the past is to consider setting dates that options will be granted for a regular schedule in the future (so that no one can claim that backdating to choose more advantageous dates was practiced).

But in the meantime, practitioner groups are forming to push back on what is being perceived as yet another attempt to criminalize non-criminal behavior, while at the same time that the SEC, investor groups, and even a special task force in San Francisco (will the State AGs be far behind?) are forming ranks to pursue possible charges against companies and execs that include a whole bunch of folks who never had a clue that their above-board and board-condoned options grant practices were going to be future classified as shady dealings. Certainly the SEC and auditors, which knew about many of the practices they now sweep into a general category of inappropriate backdating, never before suggested they had any problems with the practices. Just to cover the bases, the
SEC has supposedly asked the PCAOB to delay an examination and proposals regarding this issue for the moment. Kind of hard to know what to advise when only hindsight is 20/20, eh?

Of course there are egregious practices in the backdating scandals currently under scrutiny, but there seem to be a whole lot more folks who may be implicated (and essentially blackmailed into either expense defensive tactics or settlements) whose practices were above-board, non-criminal, and -- frankly -- widely considered just good business sense and common practice by regulators, in-house counsel, and so-called governance experts. What's your take?

Susan Hackett
Senior Vice President and General Counsel

Monday, July 17, 2006

In the News: Ka-ching! GC Compensation Survey

Corporate Counsel magazine has pulled together all the details of the compensation packages of the top GCs. Find out who got that $4.5 million bonus we've all been dreaming of and who got no bonus at all (and dropped from 17 to 71 on the annual list). You can read an article about the survey right now, but will need to register (free) to see the full roster.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

In the News: The Latest on KPMG

In a not unexpected move, the former KPMG employees who had the coverage of their legal fees capped by the company and who earned the support of Judge Lewis A. Kaplan in uncapping said fees, have filed suit against KPMG to...you guessed it!...compel the company to advance their legal fees.

You can read the full article (as usual) on law.com.

Bonus: The story contains a list of the defendants and notes who is representing each.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

IP--How Does Your Company Protect It?

By making an employee's alleged theft of its trade secrets public, The Coca-Cola Co. accomplished three things, experts say. It managed to control the message about the incident, it demonstrated its commitment to prosecute such thefts and it raised a red flag about the risks all companies face in protecting their most valuable possession -- their intellectual property. In a memo to Coke employees, CEO Neville Isdell said he has ordered a thorough review of the company's information protection practices. How would your company respond to an attempt to steal it's IP?

Read More

Monday, July 10, 2006

In the News: Law Firms and Pro Bono

How important is pro bono work to you? Do you hold your law firms to the same standard? However you answer, it should still be interesting to see how the top 200 law firms stack up in a ranking of their pro bono efforts. You can read the related article "AmLaw 200 Firms Still Have a Way to Go on Pro Bono" on law.com, but you'll need a subscription to see the whole list.

Do you want to confirm your commitment to pro bono? Take CPBO's Corporate Pro Bono Challenge.

Friday, July 07, 2006

In the News: Whistleblowing Around the Globe

My favorite source for legal news, law.com, has a story on the conflict between the Sarbox whistleblower requirement in the US vs. the European take on the issue.

But this isn't really news. The issue was covered in the ACC Docket article, "Clash of the Titans," back in the April issue. Read both and tell me which is better.

And now for something completely different: I noticed today that my grocery store's new slogan is "Experience the Unexpected." Not sure that's really what I want from my grocery store. I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Lawyers Don't Write Blogs, huh?

According to the ABA's Market Research Department, there are 1,116,967 lawyers licensed to practice in the United States in 2006. The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2004 that there were 735,000 actually practicing then.
According to Lexblog founder and CEO Kevin O'Keefe, there are only between 1,200 to 2,000 blawgs in existence now.

Doing the math, only about 1 percent of lawyers are blogging.

What's the deal, lawyers? Why are we so timid when it comes to sharing our opinions on a blog? What do you think?

Read more about this at Law.com

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

In the News: Judge Shreds Thompson Memo

Federal judge Lewis A. Kaplan of the Southern District of New York excoriated US attorneys for violating the Constitutional rights of former KPMG partners by pressuring KPMG to cut off legal fees provided under the terms of their partnership agreements. Kaplan said, “KPMG refused to pay because the government held the proverbial gun to its head.” Prosecutors had used the Thompson Memo to justify their actions.

This is a huge victory for the justice system and validates ACC's position that government prosecutors have gone too far in their tactics to get convictions. Kaplan concurred saying that the government has "let its zeal get in the way of its judgment."

See ACC's press release

Review Judge Kaplan's ruling.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

In the News: I won't torture you!

No, wait, yes I will!

From law.com: Sen. John McCain thought he had a deal when President Bush, faced with a veto-proof margin in Congress, agreed to sign a bill banning the torture of detainees.

Not quite.

While Bush signed the new law, he also quietly approved another document: a signing statement reserving his right to ignore the law. McCain was furious, and so were other lawmakers.

Read the full story.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Top 10 Mania!

Two weeks ago, ACC launched its new Top 10 feature with "Top 10 Things Your Board Needs to Know About Effective Compliance and Ethics Programs." Since then, it has been one of the most visited pages on the site.

Today, law.com features its own take on the Top 10 phenomenon, with "10 Ways to Encourage Discrimination and Harassment Claims." Yes, you read that right...

Do you have an idea for a top 10 list? Let us know.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

In the News: What Can You Get for $600 an Hour?

Well, apparently, there really aren't that many things you can pay that much for at an hourly rate. The Fulton County Daily Report's "The Snark" says: "I'd sum it up this way: Scarcity + Boring Specialty = Big Bucks." Read this column, which take a humorous approach to why some in-house counsel go for the big dollar legal talent and what they expect to get for their money. (Blue-crab fritters and truffled macaroni and cheese, anyone?)

Monday, June 12, 2006

In the News: Rock, Paper, (you guessed it!) Scissors

Apparently annoyed about the inability of opposing attorneys to come to agreement on anything, a federal judge ordered them to engage in a "rock, paper, scissors" face-off. Read the story on law.com.

On a somewhat more serious note, Corporate Counsel explores the role of in-house counsel in China. If the article doesn't sate your need for information on this topic, you should check out ACC's initiatives in China.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

In the News: SEC vs. In-house Lawyers?

In an article from California Lawyer, David Bayless (former head of the SEC's San Francisco office) proclaims that the SEC "has signaled its intention to focus on so-called 'gatekeepers,' including investment bankers, outside auditors, underwriters and attorneys." He then goes through some specific cases in which lawyers were targeted by the SEC. Bayless also warns that "disclosure issues" are the ones to watch out for. Find out why...

Friday, May 26, 2006

In The News: FEMA Evicts Katrina Victims

In Mississippi, nearly 3,000 families have been deemed ineligible for housing provided by FEMA. Residents of FEMA issues trailers say they are being kicked out erroneously, or for technicalities that arise from gray areas in FEMA regulations. Eviction letters received are vaguely worded--how are people supposed to know when and if they meet regulations for government housing?
Read More and tell us what you think.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

In-house, from A to Z

The things we do in-house.

Last week I spoke at a conference in New Orleans sponsored by the local chapter and Loyola University law school. I spoke first thing in the morning about attorney-client privilege issues for in-house counsel, but I stayed for the whole day.

The content was great, but what really struck me was the amazingly broad range of topics. After my ethics talk. we moved on the OSHA, then to ERISA, a little on litigation, negotiating contracts. IP agreements, professionalism, and software agreements. The list of issues seemed huge, but then I realized, I dealt with most of those issues every week when I worked as general counsel. From what I see on the discussion boards here, so do many members.

How many hats do you wear? I would love to hear how you balance these issues, ands some of the stories about the fringe topics you deal with.

In the News: I'm not making this up

"Wine Trademark Leaves Big Ass Hangover" is a classic headline if I've ever read one. Go on, read the story. You know you want to.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


After many hours in a plane, home from Athens late last night. At the conference, I talked with in-house counsel from all over the place. Mostly Europe, but even some attendees from as far as Nigeria. Some of the folks worked for multi-national companies. Some worked for US based companies, but many worked for purely European companies. No matter where from, the conversations ended up very similar. We would talk about work a bit, and realize that the legal challenges were the same no matter what legal system we were talking about. More striking was that, especially after a glass of wine, we talked about career issues. These issues were universal- job satisfaction, networking, how to advance, downsizing at companies. ACC offers resources on all of these topics, and provides opportunities to network and learn about things that can give us all more control over our careers. It was nice to hear that these resources and opportunities work all over the world.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Something for Nothing

This week, it is Athens. I am here for the ACC European meeting, and am sitting in a session about technology in the law department. The speakers are sharing some very useful experiences from their own law departments (and you will be able to find those materials in the ACC Virtual Library), but what really strikes me at the moment are the questions from the audience. Big department, small department- everyone wants one thing- a "Holy Grail" technology solution that will make the law department more efficient, get things done cheaper, ensure complete corporate compliance, and..... cost nothing, or next to nothing. The speakers have laid out ROI calculations showing that the money their companies have invested produced great payoffs, but there still was an investment up front. Apparently, even if you can show that spending $1 will get you $2 in savings, many law departments will not or can not make the investment. In my experience, the business units usually get the money, if they can make the case for the ROI. Maybe law departments need to take a lesson from the business units on how to do this as well.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

On the road again

I spent the better part of this week up North (by Washington, DC standards) at meetings with ACC members and potential members in Calgary and Vancouver.

We can talk about the legal side of things later, but the one thing that struck me was how civilized things are here. Calgary has metal sidewalks grates just like DC, but there were large metal foot-shaped panels welded on the grates so that if your heels would not slip through. In both places the taxis were clean, the drivers wore suits, and the driving was courteous. I noticed more little niceties like this as the week went on.

The ACC members I met were nice, as well, but many were concerned that their companies had been or might be bought out by US based companies. I heard how one US buyer immediately started to impose a US culture on one legal department of a company that was doing just fine before the buyout.

As ACC membership grows in Canada, we will be working to make sure we meet member needs up here while honoring the local culture, but we also could learn something from that culture for operations elsewhere.

Monday, May 08, 2006

In the News: The Hours

Did you know that the billable hour didn't really become the norm for legal billing until the 1960s? Me neither. Read California Lawyer's article, "The Hours: Is the Billable Hour Running Out of Time?" for an interesting history lesson that also manages to work in a reference to "Farenheit 451" and (bonus!) several references to ACC.

Disclaimer: Just in case it wasn't obvious from the brief description above, this isn't breaking news.

In the News: Enron, SarbOx, HealthSouth

The Chicago Sun-Times has a great opinion piece by a law professor on the Enron case and prosecutors' questionable tactics.

Otherwise, you might be interested in an appellate court's decision that a HealthSouth executive's sentence was "too extreme a reduction" from prosecutor's recommendation. He will be re-sentenced.

Or probably more relevant is the coming battle over Sarbanes-Oxley...see the Reuters story for more.

In the News:

The Chicago Sun-Times has a great opinion piece by a law professor on the Enron case and prosecutors' questionable tactics.

Otherwise, you might be interested in an appellate court's decision that a HealthSouth executive's sentence was "too extreme a reduction" from prosecutor's recommendation. He will be re-sentenced.

Or probably more relevant is the coming battle over Sarbanes-Oxley...see the Reuters story for more.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

In the News: Bird Flu Planning

Have you spent any time thinking about the Bird Flu? State and local health officials said they welcomed the federal government's latest plan for dealing with a pandemic flu outbreak, but some complained that the Bush administration had failed to provide the money needed to pay for the plan's long list of recommendations.

Some companies are considering what effect it might have on their bottom line.

Have you considered how this could effect your company? Let us know.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

You don't have to give it back!

I am sure many of you noticed the headline today that former Tyco GC Mark Belnick has agreed to pay a $100,000 civil fine to settle allegations that he "received around $14 million in unauthorized and undisclosed company relocation loans." You can see the story here.

Many in-house counsel have witnessed the business people doing something that may not be per se wrong, but that is questionable, in order to hit the profit goals and reap the big paycheck in return.

As we in-house counsel know, there is not always a bright line between what is ok and what crosses the line. Sometimes, even if the business people have crossed the line (something that is hard to decide, except in hindsight), they never seem to have to give the money back, or at least not all of it. There is always therefore a strong incentive to get as close to that line as possible. Some people say this is a good thing for business, others note that it flies in the face of many of the speeches from CEO's about "building cultures of corporate compliance."

Most of the in-hosue lawyers I know interpret their ethical obligations in a way that means drawing the line a little closer to the safety zone.

The Belnick case is interesting because it appears he got the same deal the business people got- a chance to score big, and not having to give any back. I do not know Mr. Belnick, and of course he was acquitted in the criminal case, so it appears he did not cross the line in that case. There is still a class action pending, but, for now at least, his choice appears to have paid off (and some of business people were not as lucky and were convicted, although it doesn't look like they had to give back all the money).

Question for in-house counsel: Would you do the same thing as Mr. Belnick if you could negotiate the compensation deal he obtained? Do you think would it affect your ability as counsel to provide legal advice?

Monday, May 01, 2006


One of the fun parts of this job is that I sometimes get to visit ACC chapter meetings all over the place. Last week I was in Parsippany NJ. Ok, not the hottest of spots, but since I grew up in-house in a large law department not to far from there in Newark, it was sort of like going home.

The interesting part of the meeting was a presentation by an independent organization called the Law Department Purchasing Consortium. They are trying to establish a network of suppliers, such as outside counsel and document management companies, and law departments, that will work together to create operational efficiencies. The buzzword was something about "adding value." In my experience, this concept is something everyone talks about, but few pull off.

The presentation was fascinating. If this group delivers what they are promising, it has the potential to be truly useful. If nothing else, the technology (which is free for law departments, at least for the first year), makes it worth a close look. You can find out more at :

Law Department Purchasing Consortium

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

In the News: ACC!

Ok, the story isn't about ACC, but still. Check out Business Week online today to see a story about a case involving Qwest Communications that takes on the issue of limited waiver. The clearly brilliant reporter noted that ACC filed a brief on behalf of Qwest warning that a decision against the company would erode attorney-client privilege.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

In the News: Choose Your Company Wisely

If you want to avoid finding yourself in hot water when you take your next in-house position, you can get some advice from an expert. Law.com has a story written by Scott Wiegand, who accepted a job at PurchasePro.com and later faced felony charges. Read the full story (co-written by the lawyers who represented Wiegand at trial).

Friday, April 21, 2006

Meta what?

Metadata. You may not know what it is, but you are producing it. Many electronic documents contain all sorts of information that you do not see unless you know how to look for it- information such as the identity of the person who created it, and all the edits and changes. That settlement agreement you emailed to the other side might contain metadata that would allow the other side to see the various iterations of your thinking, and give away your position. Do you know how to remove the data? Is it ethical to look for it when you receive a document? Check out this article, and let ACC know what you think.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

In the News: Best Legal Department?

Corporate Counsel magazine has taken the bold step of naming the "best" legal department among Fortune 500 companies. And the winner is...Ford Motor Co. You can find out why by reading the full story. How does your department stack up?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Just Show Up

I was sitting at a public hearing last night on the budget for the school district where I live. Very few people come to these budget hearings, but the few who do often get what they ask for.

I served on a school board for seven years, and people would always ask me "how do I get the school system to do what I want." I used to tell them "just show up and ask."

How is this relevant to ACC? It is the budget time of year. Like many non-profits, most of what we do depends on an annual budget. The ACC fiscal year starts October 1, so we start working hot and heavy on the budget in early Spring. Most of the budget ideas will need to be in the proposed mix by May 1.

What does this mean for you? If you want ACC to do something, such as provide a resource or a new service (or stop doing something), it needs to get in (or out) of the budget now. Not everything that is proposed will be in the budget, but if it is not on the list now, it probably will not be added later.

The good news is that you do not actually have to show up for a meeting. You can show up virtually via email, a phone call or one of the many ACC listservs.

Let me know what you think.

Monday, April 17, 2006

In the News: Jumping to Conclusions?

According to a story in US News & World Report this week, "the days of cracking down on white-collar crime may already be over." Part of the evidence they use to back-up this claim is the US Sentencing Commission's decision to remove language that gave prosecutors the right to demand waiver of attorney-client privilege (a decision ACC has advocated for some time). The story also use the trials of Richard Scrushy and Frank Quattrone to bolster its case. Plus, ACC's Susan Hackett gets quoted on what's next.

Is US News right on the money or is it making a giant leap? Read the story and let us know what you think.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Pregnancy discrimination suits on the rise...still

Pregnancy discrimination suits are on the rise, especially in corporate America. Why, at all levels, are female employees still facing this sort of discrimination? Isn't is concerning when according to the US Department of Labor by 2008, women will make up about 48 percent of the labor force and men 52 percent?

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions constitutes unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII. Women affected by pregnancy or related conditions must be treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees with similar abilities or limitations.

Facts about Pregnancy Discrimination

Thursday, April 13, 2006

In the News: Elliot Spitzer "wannabes"

According to law.com, there's a new breed of "activist" state attorney generals (a.k.a the Spitzer wannabes) targeting businesses. No news to us. But you can still read the full story.

Other exciting developments: Justice Scalia pronounces that refusing to recuse himself from the Cheney case is "the proudest thing I have done." Um, Ok.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

In the News: But Why?

In my handy law.com newswire email this morning, I learned that a law firm in Texas is raising associates' pay. Shocking! This same story has been running over and over for months, albeit with a different law firm (or firms) named each time. The story even begins, "Like associates at a number of other Texas firms, associates at Dallas-based Gardere Wynne Sewell and Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr are getting raises." Yawn.

The story appears ahead of a piece on the $9 million in punitive damages that Merck was hit with. I don't understand.

Can someone tell me why this is news? Please? Can't we just have a story headlined "All law firms (eventually) give associates raises" and be done with it?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Clicking for Content

This morning at a staff meeting, ACC employees heard that 800 people clicked on the blog page link yesterday, presumably because it was mentioned in an all-member email. Like everything we do at ACC, the blog page was created to make it easier for you to find information to make it easier to do your job.

While it is easy to put up a page and get folks to click, it is harder to provide content that someone will actually want to read, and think about once they get here.

ACC did not add this new blog service to be cool (probably why we waited till it was way past cool to have one), but rather as part of a new initiative to build better online communities for our members.

In the coming months you will see more attempts towards this goal- new combinations of listserv/discussion groups, better navigation tools for the website, and more online networking opportunities.

Will it all work? That depends on whether you use it, which is going to depend on how useful it is for you to stop by. Since I have the distinction of being the staff member who gets yelled at if we do not provide useful services, let me know what you want to see here.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

In the News: Attorney-Client Privilege

If you haven't seen it, you should check out the great editorial in the Wall Street Journal (www.wsj.com) on attorney-client privilege. The editors lambast the DOJ for its reliance on the Thompson memorandum and suggest that its days are numbered (the memo, not DOJ). Stay tuned for some more big news on attorney-client privilege later today...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Words About Words

As a publisher, I am fascinated by words and ideas. Along this line, you may be familiar with Merriam-Webster's annual declaration of the top ten most looked-up words from their on line dictionary. Understandably, many view this list as an indicator, a barometer if you will, telling what's been on our collective minds most recently. For 2005 in descending order, the top ten words were: integrity, refugee, contempt, filibuster, insipid, tsunami, pandemic, conclave, levee and inept. No doubt the whys and wherefores for what prompted these words over others has been the source of personal reflection, Sunday sermons, kitchen table conversations and high school essays.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to see the 2006 list topped with words like peace, prosperity, hope, rebound and cure? But the new year isn't so new anymore. At this point my top ten list looks something like: resolution, goal, treadmill, jogging, carbohydrate, elastic, excess, and possibly hangover, promises and change. I am counting on this list improving, as we get closer to summer.

What about you? What words do you think will make the top ten most looked-up list for 2006, and why?