• Commercial law: standard agreements (such as purchase and sale, licensing, lease, confidentiality, nondisclosure, and consulting), contract-review guide, signature-authority policy, product warranties

• Securities law: insider-trading policy, annual report, proxy, 10K, disclosure forms, blackout periods

• International trade law: tax, environmental compliance, data privacy, antitrust, import/export

As you can see from the above list, there is a lot of information in any of these areas of law to condense down into something that employees will actually use. And this information may come from a number of areas of the company. As an example, for an international-trade resource guide, the finance, tax, legal, and HR departments will be sources of important details on key processes and procedures that must be shared. Though the guide will ultimately promote information sharing, it is important that it also doesn’t foster an increased environment of information overload.

The following broad questions should be posed to members of key departments as a starting place for collecting information:

1. What are the most common and repetitive questions asked by employees?

2. What are the most common and repetitive requests for information made by employees?

3. What information, if easily made available by departments to employees, would increase the productivity of the department by decreasing the time spent in responding to the most frequently asked questions and requests?

The answers to these questions will provide a starting point for collecting the information for the guide. Much of that information may be already available, and it is merely a matter of reproducing it within the guide or referencing where it can be located, such as on an internal Web site or as part of a corporate policy document.

The intent of a resource guide is not to create new information but to simply provide a single-source tool that comprises comprehensive information for a particular business arena or practice area. The idea is not to reinvent the wheel.

In terms of the information to include in the resource guide, an inventory should be taken to identify the most significant areas of potential liability as well as information that answers the same, recurring questions.

The resource guide would be an excellent source to provide company or law department policies or guidelines that address areas of risk, such as contract terms providing unlimited liability or broad indemnification, revenue recognition, internal banking authorizations, corporate-signature authorizations, and cross-border transactions.

In addition, a comprehensive resource guide should also include company employment policies addressing sexual harassment and business conduct. Intellectual property guidelines, too, should be provided, covering confidentiality and disclosure restrictions. These are critical areas that most companies must frequently communicate and enforce with employees.

Once you have settled on the material you want included in the guide, it’s time to move on to how you will present it. Without an accessible and readable format, the guide will be of little use. It needs to be written broadly enough to identify all potential problems and questions from employees, but it is not meant to address issues in depth.


One strategy for accomplishing this is to use checklists. These provide employees with an easy-to-use tool to ensure, at a minimum, that significant issues have been identified and addressed.

Checklists provide an efficient structure to review and screen:

• Answers to frequently asked questions

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