Darryl Bradford, senior vice president and general counsel, Exelon Corp. ()
When Exelon Corp. absorbed Constellation Energy Group Inc. in 2012, the legal department spread word of its values with Constellation colleagues whose department had lacked internal diversity or pro bono programs. The $7.9 billion deal created a $24.9 billion energy company with about 26,000 employees.
“We worked to implement those programs and share those programs,” across the now 110-lawyer department, Exelon Corp. senior vice president and general counsel Darryl Bradford said. The focus applied both to internal work and in hiring outside counsel, Bradford said.
“There’s certain work that’s premium work, but we also want to make sure that we have firms that share our values,” he said. His team’s strong commitment to those values, plus its effective management of outside counsel, are setting the standard for in-house departments in the Chicago area.
Exelon attorneys average more than 20 hours of pro bono work per year. Some of the work involves collaborating on political asylum matters. In one case, the company is helping Sidley Austin represent Alabama death row inmate Jerry Bryant.
That commitment also means that Exelon lawyers volunteer at legal clinics in cities where the company has offices, and helps with matters involving the homeless, immigrants and older citizens.
Exelon works with Philadelphia’s Ballard Spahr to run Wills for Heroes Foundation clinics that offer estate planning to emergency first responders. “The [day-long event] is a way of planting the seed to inspire more pro bono work,” Bradford said.
Exelon is known for consistent, long-standing support of volunteer legal services, Chicago Legal Clinic executive director Ed Grossman said. That includes financial support, legal department participation on the clinic’s board, and providing space for clinic staffers in the company’s litigation-skills training programs, Grossman said.”They’re very good corporate citizens. They’re involved in anything and everything that helps legal services generally,” he said.
On the diversity front, about 40 percent of the company’s lawyers are women and a little more than 20 percent are of color, Grossman said. This year, Bradford has asked his department’s diversity committee to come up with ways to expand and measure employment of people with disabilities or who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
The company also is helping to expand the pool of future diverse lawyers. It’s working to include more diverse law students in programs that bring a law firm summer associate to Exelon for part of the summer.
Exelon has teamed with McGuire­Woods; Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom on such programs, called secondment.
“The energy bar has traditionally been a white male-dominated bar. There are substantial pipeline issues that need to be addressed,” Bradford said.
OUTSIDE FIRM REVIEW
But Exelon demands more than do-gooding from its outside firms. Every three years, it conducts a major review of outside counsel. The latest review, completed less than a year ago, following the merger, yielded about 60 firms, with 10 winning the lion’s share of the work, Bradford said.
That work includes major litigation, projects, mergers or sticky situations when the company wants a second set of eyes, Bradford said. Selection depends on expertise and price, particularly since Exelon has shifted a substantial portion of its legal work to alternative fee arrangements.
“We’re all going to hurt a little bit when things don’t go so well, and we’re going to celebrate in good style when things go well,” he said.
For substantial cases, the company may conduct a minirequest for proposal and ask two or three of its approved firms which of them can offer the most attractive fee arrangement.
“Sometimes it’s a formal RFP, other times it’s shopping around,” he said. Every year, the department meets with each approved firm to review its performance in four key areas. Those include the satisfaction of internal business clients and lawyers; a review of pending matters; diversity; and pro bono.
Gabe Fuentes, one of four relationship partners on the Exelon team at Chicago’s Jenner & Block, said Exelon’s process is just. “We’re not selected every time, but we’re always given a fair shot at the work, and that’s all we can ask for,” he said.
Exelon has high performance and price expectations for outside lawyers, but inside lawyers help by responding quickly to requests for evidence or information, Fuentes said.
“Everybody plays their part and it winds up being a very effective kind of relationship,” he said.
Name of company: Exelon Corp.
No. of lawyers in Chicago area: 38
No. of U.S. lawyers outside Chicago: 72
No. of lawyers outside U.S.: 0
General counsel: Darryl Bradford
KEYS TO SUCCESS
► Being an excellent lawyer is the price of admission. What really distinguishes us is being trusted advis ers and good business partners in achieving results.
► Be a part of the community. Be an active participant wherever you live.
► You can’t sit in your office and be a great lawyer. You need to learn what people in the business are doing.
— Darryl Bradford