A San Francisco company on Monday announced the launch of a continuing legal education program tailored to in-house counsel and underscoring diversity.
The program, called In-House Focus, features videos of mainly high-profile in-house counsel talking with their own outside counsel in an hourlong roundtable format. And for the most part, the presenters are women or people of color.
In one of the first recorded segments entitled “The Legal Intersection of Diversity and Technology,” Neal Suggs, vice president and deputy general counsel for Microsoft Corp., talks with Microsoft outside counsel Judy Jennison and Dominique Shelton Leipzig, both partners at Perkins Coie.
“When they reached out to me several months ago about doing a CLE, I said I would if I could do it the way I want to, rather than how they are usually done,” Suggs said. “I wanted to focus on what in-house counsel really need, not do a law school class.”
Suggs said there is a wide gap in the quality of CLE material because “some providers have taken advantage of the process as a money-making endeavor because we all need it to be licensed.”
Suggs’ expertise is in cloud services, data privacy and ethics and compliance issues. His segment focused on the rapidly evolving nature of technology and the impact that change is having on business, the law and the workforce.
“I’m kind of excited about what they are trying to do with this platform,” Suggs said. “First, it was designed for mobile consumption. It’s videotape; it’s not a classroom setting nor a live-taped event. It’s designed for in-house counsel. Outside counsel can consume it too, but it’s unique for in-house counsel.”
Suggs said he did the segment without compensation, although he later accepted a role on the company’s advisory board with a small stock stipend.
Company founder Andrew Dick said his goal was to produce dynamic and diverse legal content for the in-house community, delivered by industry leaders. “Their firsthand experience has credibility with our audience,” Dick said.
Dick said he also chose to “not just talk about diversity but to show it. This is a platform where law firms and companies can showcase their diverse talent. We might bring about some change in stereotypes, and it could open some doors.”
So far he has produced nine videotaped segments that are available to subscribers on the company website, www.inhousefocus.com. He hopes to have 100 segments by year’s end.
He acknowledged that large companies often have law firms come into their offices to put on CLE classes for free but said smaller legal departments aren’t offered those opportunities. “And all legal departments can benefit from an online, on-demand solution,” he added.
While there are other videotaped versions in the market, both Dick and Suggs said they do not offer the content or production quality of Dick’s programs. Dick also said his goal is to price his product around 50 percent of the going market price.
Other segments now available include creating a company data privacy program with Jordan Kanfer, general counsel of NTT America; managing a multigenerational workforce with Danielle Hohos, deputy GC of Williams-Sonoma Inc.; legal partnering in merger and acquisition transactions with Sharon Underberg, former general counsel of Eastman Kodak Co.; handling cross-border investigations with Claudius Sokenu, deputy GC and head of litigation for Marathon Petroleum Corp.; and navigating an initial public offering with Alon Rotem, general counsel of thredUP.