Looking Back: 25 Years of Metropolitan Corporate Counsel

Thursday, January 11, 2018 - 16:20

This is a big year for MCC.

We proudly celebrate our 25th year of publication, and we launch the next 25 with a new name and a new look.

Over the year, we will honor our founder and explore our foundation in this space by digging into the MCC archive.

Along the way, we will survey our community, identify the 25 most influential corporate counsel of the last 25 years, and honor them in November. Our inaugural issue was September 1993. Our founder, Al Driver, former senior VP, GC, and secretary of JCPenney, introduced us in a letter to corporate counsel:

“Welcome to The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel, a new monthly publication specifically designed to serve the information needs of corporate counsel in the Greater New York area.”

Al, who had retired from Penney in 1987 after 25 years, was well-suited for his new role. A Yale College and UVA Law graduate, he spent a decade at Cravath before going in-house, where he built a 60-lawyer legal department and a reputation as one of the most innovative and influential GCs in the country.

When Al sold MCC three years ago, he explained that as a GC he saw a gap in the information ecosystem. He set out to fill it with information on developments in the law, law department administration, and policy “immediately pertinent to your practice.” In essence, Al crowdsourced MCC via his well-developed network and delivered what his audience told him they needed.

While much of Issue #1 feels a bit musty, there a number of pieces that stand out for their prescience. In a publication with nary a mention of technology beyond the fax machine, Catherine Ludden, a litigation partner at Morgan Lewis, anticipates e-discovery:

“Just as the photocopy replaced the carbon copy, compounding the volume of documents available for discovery, the computer can multiply the process — and the problems again. Controlling the creation and retention of computer-based documents now recognizes that new reality.”

In an opinion piece titled “Managing Legal Costs,” Barton Jones of Winthrop Stimson laments the failure to control legal costs with “printed engagement guidelines, detailed bills and doing more work in-house.” He turns to the Japanese auto industry’s embrace of total quality management (TQM) as a model:

“Costs are still high. Business is still hobbled by unnecessary legal complexity. Quality management principles should be a more effective means to reducing costs and improving the quality of service.”

Finally, Charles Hann, a former GC who became an advisor in the Corporate Law Department Consulting Group of Altman Weil Pensa, gives his take on the future:

“Cost controls will be the driving force which will change the legal profession. More legal functions of a routine and repetitive nature will be performed by non-lawyer personnel.”

Such as AI-powered lawbots? Watch this space for more from our archives. We hope you enjoy the dig.