Andrew J. Gajkowski, a technology associate with Bracewell & Giuliani in Austin and an outside counsel to WhaleShark, says that Agnese's strengths as a general counsel include his business sense and ability to find practical solutions to legal issues.
"He asks all the right questions," Gajkowski says. "I think he just understands how to get to the core of issues, which is important when you are in novel areas of law, dealing with lots of issues in rapidly changing areas of internet commerce, and data privacy and IP. He's able to navigate those really well."
How does Agnese rate his job with a company that has more than tripled in size in just 14 months?
"I love it," Agnese says. "Unlike some lawyers who go in-house, I really enjoyed my old practice. This was probably the only client that could have called me [in-house]. I'm very happy with the move and having a great time."
Best Practices: Ethics and Issue Spotting
Lou Agnese had eight years of big firm corporate experience before going in-house with WhaleShark Media Inc. Agnese now is general counsel and corporate secretary at the privately held company in Austin.
Texas Lawyer research editor Jeanne Graham emailed Agnese some questions about best practices. His answers are below, edited for length and style.
Texas Lawyer: What skills from your previous work experience are most helpful in your work today, and why?
Lou Agnese: One skill that you develop as outside counsel is to know how to remain calm and deal with the unexpected. I never knew when a client was going to call and what kind of issue was confronting that client when they did. As general counsel, I am confronted daily with unexpected questions and issues, and I believe the ability to remain calm and confidently guide the organization through the issue is key to success in-house.
TL: What do you see as the most important role you play as general counsel for WhaleShark Media?
Agnese: Providing the organization with solid legal advice and melding that with our strategic goals is certainly very important, but I believe that giving ethical advice is vital. It is one thing to answer the question, "Can we do this?" It is another to answer whether or not we should. When people realize you think about things this way, I believe this builds the kind of trust that you need within the organization to succeed.