ACC’s (Association of Corporate Counsel)
website and I look at the presentations that
attorneys have done at ACC conferences
and seminars, and I’ll pull those materials.
I find the materials that are on ACC to be
OVERCASH: My outside counsel typically do
the job of keeping me apprised of issues that
are developing in my areas where the company operates. But I don’t really care about
SuperLawyers or Chambers. I prefer to talk
to somebody who’s on the other side of the
transaction with that attorney or who was
cocounsel in a case five years ago or whatever it was. That means a lot more to me than
somebody’s Chambers ranking, for sure.
EIGO: Does law firm diversity matter to you?
Can in-house departments have an impact
on the legal profession in that way?
DIETZ: This is actually something very near
and dear to my heart. When I was at GE
Capital, it had a goal of promoting diversity among our outside counsel. We had
a very diverse department, whether it was
background, gender, ethnic or racial background, a very diverse group.
I don’t think diversity is any sort of sacrifice. I think it is the evolution of our profession. It’s casting a wider net and making
sure you actually access more people.
KEOGH: Being new as general counsel, I’m
in a position right now where I am assessing
the firms that I inherited and then considering where I’m going to target my efforts to
engage new firms for different areas of need.
My company is quickly growing, and we are
a diverse company, and we pride ourselves
on that diversity internally, and so it’s something I’m looking at. I consider it a factor,
but I’m not sure how it plays into the big
scheme yet because I’m at the beginning
stages. But I do like to see when I’m considering a firm that they have some sort of
EIGO: When you seek outside counsel, do
you still hear firms pitching you that they are
full-service firms? Is that a persuasive point?
KEOGH: I’m starting with the people I know
and branching out from a network of folks
that I already have some
connection with. And so
if I get an answer that
we’ve got a full-service
firm, we’ve got a full
bench, I want to know
more about what that
bench looks like and how
responsive they’re going
to be. And I start asking
questions to see if I’m
getting realistic answers,
because I need to be able to trust the person
that they’re going to pick up the phone
when I need them at 7:00 at night.
EIGO: So they need to understand your industry?
HANSEN: Yes. What always seems to surprise
people—and actually it surprised me when
I first joined the organization—massages
sound very relaxing, but when you think
about it, it’s two people going into a small
room, one of them gets undressed and the
other one touches them. So shocker that
you would have legal issues that stem from
that. That’s what we do 50,000 times a day,
so people are always shocked when I tell
them that we’re investigating incidents every single day.
Probably my highest number of cases
was in this realm that we call inappropri-ate-conduct litigation. And so I was getting
different counsel from all over the country,
handling all the cases differently; it was just
making my eyes go crossed. So the strategy
was to bring in one law firm to handle all the
cases nationwide and then use local counsel
as needed on a procedural basis so it would
EIGO: You had some unique legal needs.
HANSEN: It was sort of “OK, this is new
ground, there’s no one out there in the legal world on the planet that does as many
massages as us so there was no one that really knew how to attack or handle it. We’ll
attack it together with some innovation.”
And they were flexible for me.
OVERCASH: I’m actually a little turned off by
the full-service law firm pitch. What makes
me gravitate toward somebody that’s been
referred to me is true authenticity coming
through. I want them to connect to me in
a way that will show me that I’m going to
feel very well taken care of and that my execs
will feel very well taken care of if I hire this
person. And so when I start the conversa-
tion and it very quickly turns to “we’re a
full-service firm,” that’s great, but I’m not
talking to them right now because of some
full-service spectrum of work I want in the
future. I have a particular issue in an area
that I’m a little unfamiliar with, probably
in a city or state that I’m a little unfamiliar
with. I want to feel like this person is go-
ing to connect with me, handle the issues,
keep me involved, but not bother me all the
time. And that has nothing to do with being
a full-service firm.
DIETZ: To me, it’s just open dialogue. I
don’t want people to get lost in the weeds
and not communicate. I recall once having
a fairly small matter, and when I got the bill
there were five or six billing parties on it.
This was not a complex matter.
EIGO: How can outside counsel simplify
KEOGH: By giving me practical, concise advice. I don’t want the 10-point discussion.
I have a problem, I want you tell me what
you think about it, and I want it to be quick.
OVERCASH: Agreed. It has to be practical,
well-reasoned advice that’s concise.
GRABIEC: Try to get to know my business;
that makes all decisions a little bit easier.
DIETZ: I agree. And get to know me, get to
know my style and what I’m looking for. It’ll
make our relationship so much easier.
CORPORATE COUNSEL ROUNDTABLE
The LMA’s Diana Lauritson introduces the panel.