Welcome back to Inside Track! Your favorite newsletter on all things in-house. This week, we released our October issue of Corporate Counsel, which asked what GCs are looking for in their outside attorneys. Thanks to some vocal in-house legal leaders, we got down to the bottom of it and will hopefully give you some insight.
Also this week, we look at the new NAFTA--otherwise known as the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement. Plus some other Supreme Court news.
Now let’s get into the in-house news of the week.
Choosing Outside Counsel
For our annual “Who Represents America’s Biggest Companies” edition of Corporate Counsel, reporters Sue Reisinger, Kristen Rasmussen, Caroline Spiezio and yours truly spoke with big time in-house lawyers to learn how they find and work with outside counsel. Here’s what they told us matters to them:
Quality Legal Work. Speaking to Heath Monesmith, the general counsel of Eaton(pictured above), Sue found out that the company focuses on quality and not quantity. So maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Eaton has engaged in convergence for litigation work, going from 108 outside law firms to 25 and reducing its legal costs by 11 percent year over year.
Leaving Billable Hour Behind. Kristen spoke to Delta Airlines chief legal officer Peter Carter. Turns out he is not a fan of the billable hour and said that firms who have figured out project based billing will be the leading firms of the future. He mentioned that Delta uses Alston & Bird, King & Spalding and Troutman Sanders.
Diversity. While diversity isn’t the only factor taken into consideration in firm selection at Microsoft, it does play a big part. The tech company’s general counsel, Dev Stahlkopf, said she looks at how many women, people of color and members of the LGBTQ community are employed at those firms. This year firms working with Microsoft include Covington & Burling, Merchant & Gould and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.
Flexible Billing Mix. I spoke to Julia Brncic, the vice president and deputy general counsel at Express Scripts. She told me that the pharmaceutical company relies on a mixture of alternative fee arrangements and the billable hour with its firms. Litigation, she said, tends to stay on the billable hour. If issues are more frequent and not as complex, she said that the company is more open to AFAs.
The Next NAFTA
On Monday, President Donald Trump announced the details of what he hopes will replace NAFTA. As the details of the new USMCA deal emerge, not everyone is cheering (for instance, Canadian dairy farmers are not pleased) but experts told my colleague, reporter Phillip Bantz, that companies should feel hopeful about the deal…
✤ “For a lot of companies, a U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA would’ve been extremely disruptive because of integration of North American supply chains, sourcing and markets. If the U.S. had withdrawn from NAFTA, it would’ve been a complete freaking disaster for the auto industry. There’s so much cross-border movement of parts and components.”
— Warren Maruyama, former general counsel for the U.S. Trade Representative. ✤ “This provision can retain U.S. competitiveness and prevent the erosion of a fair exchange as has happened in other trade relations,”
— Burl Finkelstein, general counsel of Kason Industries, on the foreign exchange provision in USMCA.
So, how do you feel about the USMCA? Let me know here.
In Other Supreme Court News…
The U.S. Supreme Court is in flux. Who knows when it will have a ninth justice?
But the Kavanaugh disaster isn’t stopping the court from hearing cases. On Thursday, the nation’s high court granted cert in Home Depot v. Jackson. My colleague Phillip reported that the case could give general counsel a major headache when it comes to the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA).
When seeking cert, Home Depot argued that third-party counter defendantsshould be entitled to remove the claims against them to federal court under CAFA.
Phillip reported that if the high court affirms the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals,companies of all sizes and their legal departments could face additional class action suits.
Thursday, October 4. Who says going in-house means no more opportunities to go to court? The New York City Bar is hosting an event titled, In-house Roles for Litigators. Attendees will hear from Hannah Sholl, senior counsel at Visa, Phil Arnold, vice president of equities and trading at Goldman Sachs, Daniel K. Wiig of the legal department of the Municipal Credit Union, and Rachel Engelstein, chief litigation and compliance counsel at Standard Industries.
Wednesday, October. 24 Take note: Global Leaders in Law will be hosting an event on managing risk in an age of disruption at Bar Boulud in New York. The next day,Thursday, October 25, the organization will be hosting an event on the changing world of global trade at Club Industriales in Mexico City. GLL is an invitation-only membership group offering general counsel a global platform for in-person collaboration to exchange ideas and receive advice and guidance from peers. For more information, contact Meena Heath at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, October 21-Wednesday October 24. One of the biggest in-house counsel conferences, The ACC Annual Meeting is in Austin, Texas this year. Saddle on up to hear in-house lawyers speak on a variety of topics, from the first 100 days of the GDPR to pay equity and salary inquiry bans. High-powered in-housers from companies like Google, Clorox, Bayer, Honda and more will be taking the stage.
Thursday, November 1. The Economist is hosting its 15th General Counsel conference at the Jumeriah Carlton Tower in London. The event seeks to find “compelling solutions to meet changing expectations.” Speakers include Sarah Jones, the group general counsel to the BBC, Dervish Tayyip, assistant general counsel at Microsoft, and Mark Maurice-Jones, the general counsel of Nestle UK and Ireland.
On the Move-
Winklevoss Crypto GC. A cryptocurrency company founded by the Winklevoss twins, the aptly named Gemini Trust, hired Sydney Schaub, a longtime in-house practitioner, to be its general counsel. She will focus on building up the legal team and on new jurisdiction expansion. Schaub comes from online clothing rental service Rent The Runway.
GC Acquired. Former Monsanto executive, Scott Partridge, will be the next general counsel of Germany based Bayer AG. Partridge, who was VP of global strategies at Monsanto, replaces Jan Heinemann as general counsel effective Oct. 1. Bayer acquired Monsanto in June for $63 billion. In an exclusive interview, Partridge told us about his role in the deal.
Life Changing. Texas healthcare network, Steward Health Care announced on Monday that Herb Holtz, a longtime healthcare and employment attorney, will be its next general counsel. The attorney has been at Holtz & Reed for nearly 15 years.
A New Strain Of General Counsel. For its first legal boss, service provider to cannabis companies, General Cannabis, on Monday announced that Brett Wendthas been hired. The executives of the company said that Wendt, who was formerly GC for UtiliQuest, will be critical to the company’s future business strategy.
Copying A New GC. The company that is mostly known for creating a machine that can make copies announced that Louie Pastor will be its next general counsel. Xeroxannounced that Pastor will lead the company’s corporate security and government related and public policy activities. Pastor was last employed as deputy general counsel of Icahn Enterprises.