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Top Three Stories of 2012: Veta Richardson, CEO of the Association of Corporate Counsel
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, regulatory challenges, and gatekeeper liability for in-house counsel. One of the biggest topics is foreign corrupt practices. This has come up in every instance I've heard of in-house lawyers talking about key issues, both from lawyers in the U.S. and outside of the U.S. It's a great example of where the internationalization of business and law is intersecting with gatekeeper liability.
Reengineering of legal services. We're making headway in forging alternatives to the billable hour, but there's still huge resistance by many law firms. At the Association of Corporate Counsel's annual meeting, as we honored companies and firms with outstanding results, even some of the in-house panelists mentioned that many companies themselves still use "shadow billing" to track their savingsa trend that glorifies the billable hour. There's still not yet been a cultural shift, by either the law firms or by the companies that hire them.
Diversity. As reported in the Minority Corporate Counsel Association's Diversity & the Bar, women make up 22 percent of Fortune 500 general counsel. Time and again I've seen evidence that women are rising in the ranks to lead legal departments, whereas their peers at law firms are not. The significance is that more women are in charge of what law firms most want: clients and legal budget dollars.