Welcome back to Inside Track. I’m Law.com in-house reporter Stephanie Forshee.
In this edition: Facebook’s in-house legal crew, including GC Colin Stretch, appears to have had Mark Zuckerberg’s back as the CEO headed to Washington D.C. this week to field tough questions from Congress. And over on the West Coast, Salesforce legal boss Amy Weaver sat down with one of my colleagues for a wide ranging video interview.
What’s Happening –
#ZUCKONTHEHILL. As you might have heard by now, Mark Zuckerberg testifiedbefore Congress Tuesday and today. But what you might not know is: Who were all those people sitting directly behind him as he got grilled?
Several were his lawyers and policy advisers. The entourage included Facebook GC Colin Stretch; Pearl Del Rosario, associate GC for compliance; Erin Egan, chief privacy officer; and Joel Kaplan, VP of U.S. Public Policy for Facebook. (In the photo, Stretch is seated back left, with del Rosario, Kaplan and other advisers.)
My colleague C. Ryan Barber has the rundown on who was at the hearing and why they’re important. Get to know them all here.
FORCE FOR SALES AND JUSTICE. Fellow in-house reporter Caroline Spiezio sat down recently with Salesforce GC Amy Weaver at the company HQ. The company’s top lawyer told her about how surprised she was to learn much of her job would involve advocating for equality and social justice. In the video, Weaver also gave advice to GC hopefuls: “Being powerful doesn’t mean pounding the table.” Click below to watch the full interview.
MICROSOFT INNOVATION? My colleague Caroline recently reported on a new Microsoft initiative announced by CLO Brad Smith in a blog that will protect the IP that nontech companies that innovate using Microsoft’s software or collaborate with the company’s consultants and engineers produce during these processes.
I asked Mauricio Uribe, who’s an IP partner at Knobbe Martens, what he thought about the idea, how innovative it is and whether other companies should be doing this. (He said many probably already are.)
The Microsoft principles, according to Uribe, “reflect common licensing approaches/terms that arise when companies enter into joint development agreements or create joint ventures, such as each company retaining full ownership rights in independently created IP brought to a collaborative effort.”
Here’s what Uribe said other companies should consider as best business practices for IP licensing:
➤ Parties should look to collaborate to define IP and licensing rights prior to any work and put the terms in writing.
➤ Publication of principles in a blog may have additional benefits for a larger company, like Microsoft, in that it helps foster interest for potential future partners.
➤ Regardless of publication, any company would benefit from formulating and communicating (privately or publicly) IP licensing and collaboration principles to help explain how they will do business.
TOO LEGIT TO QUIT. My colleague Rhys Dipshan wrote about how confusing the definition of “legitimate interest” is under the GDPR. Legitimate interest is one of the six possible criteria companies can cite if they want to justify processing EU citizens’ data under the regulation. As Rhys reported, the EU released an opinion in 2014 noting that the concept of legitimate interest is “open-ended.”
That seems pretty vague, so Rhys spoke to Maarten Stassen, senior counsel in Crowell & Moring‘s Brussels office to get more clarity.
➤ How will I know? Stassen said even though deciding what interests are legitimate “sounds like an assessment that should primarily rest within the sound discretion and primary control of the business” he’s confident regulators will have the final say.
➤ Wait, there’s more. Companies will also have to pass the “necessity test,” which means deciding whether processing data in the way envisioned is necessary to achieve the interest.
➤ Finally, there’s the “balancing act” test, which, as Rhys explains, balances data privacy rights of individuals under EU law with the interests of the data processor, and ensures that the level of interest matches the level of potential privacy intrusion. Stassen called the test a “subjective exercise intended to be broadly protective of individuals.”
Social Lawyers –
This week we spotted sage advice from Bob Wallace Jr., former top lawyer for the NFL’s Rams and a sports law partner with Thompson Coburn in St. Louis. Merryck & Co. which interviewed Wallace and others about what it takes to build a great team year after year shared his insights. &nbps;
Question of the Week
Do you have a pressing question you’d like answered? If so, send it my way.
Here’s this week’s question: My GC is leaving and the execs are going to conduct a search for her replacement. I want the job, but the best they can offer me is interim GC, which infuriates me. Should I take it or quit?
I understand your disappointment with not being chosen to fill your boss’s shoes on a permanent basis. But it’s not prudent to let your emotions drive important career decisions. You’ll end up on the short end of the stick every time.
Take a deep breath and give yourself a little time to process and clear your mind. When your blood has lost its boil, it’s time to assess your options and determine you best strategic career move. Logically.
If your goal is to be a GC, you will need to understand what profile and skills are required to compete effectively for these opportunities; and gain as much experience as you can honing your skills accordingly. One area that gives candidates a leg up when competing for GC positions is prior GC experience (and all the knowledge and experience that goes with it). It’s not an absolute requirement for every single GC opportunity, but it is marketable and can provide candidates with a distinctive edge.
In your situation, you have two options: (1) Turn down the interim GC offer, quit and apply for GC positions as a candidate with no job and no prior GC experience; or (2) Take the interim GC role and grab the temporary title. Then gain as much experience as you can in this leadership position and give yourself an edge when applying for future GC positions.
While you perceive this pass-over as a big negative, you can turn it into a great career development opportunity. An opportunity that not every lawyer has. So my advice is to capitalize on it. Take the position and learn as much as you can. And put your heart and soul into doing the best job possible.
Take the responsibility seriously and go in with a game plan for your approach to the role. And execute.
In addition, create visibility with the other executives and perfect your “executive presence”. Not only is this a chance for you to learn, it’s also an opportunity for others to see you shine.
During this time, be proactive and explore the GC market. See what the market tells you about your background and marketability for these opportunities. In addition, after spending some time in the interim role (and demonstrating your competence and value), approach the executives and ask if they would reconsider you for the position on a permanent basis.
Reiterate your interest as well as your accomplishments in the role and see what they have to say. You’ve now had some time to prove yourself; so another swing for the fence might prove successful this go-around. You never know what dynamics may have transpired since you took over as interim GC, so the execs may have a change of heart about you. If so, break open the champagne and congratulate yourself for a job well earned. But if the execs are still locked on hiring an outside lawyer, stay positive and express your appreciation for the opportunity they have given you. Nobody likes a sore loser.
If a new GC is hired, you can either stay or leave. But if you have no compelling offer in hand, I recommend you stay and learn as much as you can during your remaining tenure. You might be pleasantly surprised by your new situation. Even if you continue to pound the pavement, it’s easier to look for a job when you already have a job. So why create the added hurdle?
Big disappointments can leave a person feeling angry, demoralized and hopeless. These are powerful emotions that can sabotage a career if they become key drivers for career decisions. And everyone in his or her career (and life) will experience disappointment. But how we each deal with it will vary. For those who can harness these emotions and keep their negative influences at bay, more logical and positive decisions can follow.
You have a wonderful opportunity in front of you. So use it to your benefit—it’s all upside.
Now Keep Calm and Carry On.
Don’t Miss –
Thursday, April 19. Global Leaders in Law is at the Middle East Legal Awards. The group will also hold a session on Tuesday, April 24 on “What Do You Do If Your CEO Resigns?” in Vienna at the Steirereck. GLL is an invitation-only membership group, offering GCs a global platform for in-person collaboration to exchange ideas and receive advice and guidance from peers. For more information, contact Meena Heathat firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, April 19. Corporate Counsel Forum Middle East is back. This year the Ritz-Carlton, Dubai will host a full day of peer to peer networking, discussions and interactive workshops on topics like competition law, leadership, cybersecurity, AI and fintech.
Sunday-Tuesday, April 29- May 1. The In-House Counsel World Summit in Toronto is themed: Beyond Borders: Business and Law in the Global Village.The Canadian Corporate Counsel Association’s national conference is meant to embody the present and future of in-house counsel — both in Canada and abroad.
Monday-Tuesday, May 21-22. The Marketplace Risk Management Conferencewill be held in San Francisco. More than 300 tech companies will be represented, including the GCs of Airbnb, Lyft, Instacart and Sittercity. The conference focuses on risk management for web and mobile marketplaces.
Thursday, June 14. The American Lawyer and LegalWeek will present the Transatlantic General Counsel Summit 2018 in London. The summit provides a platform for some of the most elite general counsel in the U.K., Europe and U.S. to identify and determine the meaningful difference the legal function can make when contributing to a company’s strategy.
“You can’t have a better ambassador for the brand than a CEO like ours, who really wholeheartedly is not doing it for the money but because he fully believes in the mission of the company to transform the world’s reliance on fossil fuel.”
— Yusuf Mohamed, Tesla Deputy GC, told the ACC Docket about Tesla CEO Elon Musk
On the Move –
Another Kind of Media. One year after departing Viacom, Michael Fricklas haslanded at Advance Publications, which invests in and operates media companies including Conde Nast. Mike told me in a call on Monday that he chose Advance because “it’s an interesting moment” in the evolution in the company. He said Advance just announced it has a lot of capital to spend on M&A projects — and Fricklas happens to have plenty of deal experience from his 24 years at Viacom.
Hedging Crypto. Bitcoin startup BitGo has hired Shahla Ali as CLO and CCO. She told me in a phone call that navigating what regulators expect from cryptocurrency today is a lot like back in the early 2000s when she worked in hedge funds and regulators weren’t sure how to approach the industry.
Supreme Investigations. This past week, global investigations firm Nardelloannounced the hire of Mark Califano. He most recently worked in-house at American Express, where he oversaw investigations and headed litigation, including the credit card company’s huge antitrust case that was argued in the Supreme Courtback in February.