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Susan Hackett is the senior vice president and general counsel for the Association of Corporate Counsel, or ACC, which used to be called the American Corporate Counsel Association, or ACCA. ACC has eight lawyers working in various capacities � from the chief operating officer to legal resource managers � and more than 15,000 lawyer members. What does ACC do? ACC was founded in 1982 to provide a unique and exclusive forum for the discussion and promotion of issues of importance to the in-house bar and the service of their corporate clients. (Our name was changed this year to reflect the increasingly international interests of our membership and the growing number of members in other countries.) Most of our members are also members of other bars, so we don’t see ourselves as an alternative to other bars, but as the place our members come to meet exclusively with their peers in in-house practice, to network and share practical resources and programming, and to raise the concerns of the in-house bar in a unified and powerful fashion when their voice needs to be heard. How did you come to this job? I was an associate at Patton Boggs here in D.C., and doing a pretty horrible job at it. I knew that the problem wasn’t the firm (which was great and gave me all kinds of opportunities), but that the law firm world � and especially the world of an associate � was not the right kind of environment for me to do what I do best. At the time (1989), ACCA was looking for a lawyer to begin to develop the product and resource lines that would begin to move us from a membership-development-focused group toward a more service-oriented association. I had no idea what I was in for, but luckily, neither did the organization! Over the years, I learned how to do all kinds of things law school hadn’t prepared me for: publish a magazine, sell advertising and sponsorships to raise nondues revenues, develop and feed a Web site, organize national conferences, create and mobilize communities of members to impact policy and regulation, develop a committee network, write books and treatises, design marketing materials and execute a marketing plan selling millions of dollars of services, support a board of directors, develop pro bono and diversity initiatives, file amicus briefs and testimony, and even master a variety of technologies. So while I didn’t quite know what I was getting into at the time, the return for me has been great, and the staff and leadership � then and now � is incredibly supportive, patient, and generous with their time and talent. Because my job, my skill sets, and the variety of members I interact with change and evolve into new opportunities so regularly, working here still inspires me, even after almost 15 years. My current focus is on ethics and professionalism, CLO issues, and advocacy, especially in light of the rapidly changing nature of corporate legal practice and in-house attorneys’ roles and responsibilities in helping clients respond to the challenges of the current economy, globalization, and corporate responsibility concerns. How does this job compare with being in private practice? This job offers me a chance to be extremely creative and to exercise business skills and judgment that law firm lawyering does not really offer (except in the limited context of client marketing or business development). If I can imagine and articulate a problem to be solved or a resource to be developed that will fulfill a need of members, I am empowered with ways to execute that vision. And frankly, that’s what’s made this bar so much more successful financially, and in terms of member service, than any other bar I know of. I think the other thing that really distinguishes my work here is my ability to call upon almost any legal talent I want and get immediate involvement, commitment, and expertise simply by mentioning the organization I work for and the members I serve. I work in an incredibly collegial environment with other lawyers at the bar, and that makes me just about the luckiest lawyer in the country since it means that I always get to see my members and the outside bar at their best. Hey, I think I just sold myself on my job again! What’s top of mind for you in your job at the moment? Which area of law or issue is your biggest challenge? My concerns aren’t really about the legal services I offer to the client, which is ACC, but rather are reflective of the concerns of my membership as they face the incredibly complex and increasingly challenging professional problems of the post-Enron world of corporate legal services. Whether members are working for clients that are public or private, for-profit, nonprofit, or barely profiting, they are responsible for performing to new and emerging standards of stakeholder expectations. Our members need practical resources that do more than analyze what new regulations say companies must or must not d Our job is to help them find the ideas, networks, and resources that can be mobilized and customized to create an ethical yet profitable corporate culture; to create successful and business-driven compliance initiatives; and to manage more efficiently the corporate legal service function. So the challenge is to help lawyers become problem-solvers and ethical leaders within their client entities, but to do so in a manner that is respectful and consistent with the roles and professional responsibilities of lawyers to be independent and objective counsel to their clients. What thoughts do you offer from your perspective to outside counsel interested in better serving their corporate clients? Interestingly enough, I spend an increasing amount of time these days working with law firms on some of the same “challenge” issues I identified above. Even though they aren’t my constituency, everyone is better served � both clients and my members � when all lawyers working as a part of the legal representation team are functioning well and in harmony. We recently completed a truly comprehensive survey of in-house leaders about their expectations and relationships with outside counsel. It’s hundreds of pages of statistically meaningful data and incredibly insightful observations about what’s happening in the legal marketplace today. (I’ll discuss these findings in my next article for this section, but the raw data can be ordered by going to www.acca.com/Surveys/partner03/serengeti_order_form.pdf.) Want a teaser of what my next article will focus on? It’s not about cost; it’s about value. And part of what defines a firm’s value to clients is related to its culture. More later!

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