New England And Boston - Organizations ConnACCA: Helping Corporate Counsel Stay On Top Of Local And International Issues

Saturday, May 1, 2004 - 00:00

The Editor interviews Frank E. Rudewicz, Senior Managing Director & Regional Counsel, Decision Strategies, LLC, and President of the Connecticut Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel-America.

Editor: What is the nature of the New England legal community?

Rudewicz: Busy.Many of our member counsel wear different hats and juggle a lot of balls in the air. With the downsizing and budget constraints on most company's budgets, they share with their colleagues around the country the stress of trying to do more with less. I am happy to note that the economy seems to be improving and with it a rejuvenated focus on new opportunities.

Editor: Please tell us about your chapter.

Rudewicz: Although a very small state, Connecticut has two chapters. ConnACCA serves Hartford, New London, Tolland and Middlesex counties.WESFACCA serves Westchester County, New York and Fairfield County, Connecticut. Our nearby neighbor, the Northeast Chapter, serves Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. With several chapters within short distances of each other, communications among us are common as we take advantage of our geographic proximity in offering programs and other benefits to our members.

The vast majority of our members are from small law departments. The diversity of their practices presents opportunities and challenges to our chapter in meeting their needs. We provide substantive programs and practical tools that help corporate counsel to get their work done more efficiently, which we balance with social programs that help corporate counsel to develop their professional networks and support our colleagues in transition.

Editor: As the area's economy improves, what legal issues are getting the most attention?

Rudewicz: Electronic discovery continues to be a hot topic. In April, we hosted a program with the Connecticut State Bar Association and sponsored by Murtha, Cullina, Richter & Pinney LLP.

One of the hot topics in Connecticut has been ethical conduct in government.At our March annual meeting, we had a program sponsored by Day, Berry & Howard, LLP at which the state's Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal, was our keynote speaker.He spoke about corporate and government fraud and highlighted some of his recent initiatives.One of the unique requirements is a mandate for any vendor wanting to do business with the state of Connecticut, for a contract of over $100,000, to submit affidavits attesting that no employee of their company has presented any gifts to any state employee or agency head at anytime over the past ten years. Without such affidavits, the attorney general's office will not sign off on the contract, a requirement of state government.

In May, the First Law International Group will provide a panel of European counsel from six separate countries to address topics of concern to multinational companies. Using a hypothetical fact pattern, the panel will address the legal issues specific to their countries with input from our audience.

In keeping with our philosophy of balancing our substantive programs with networking opportunities, our June event will be a social gathering.

Editor: How does your chapter help its members to manage their relationships with outside counsel?

Rudewicz: Among the several different ways, we plan to host a Chief Legal Officers Dinner at which partners of sponsoring law firms dine with the chief legal officers of companies in our region. Discussion focuses on what we expect from outside counsel andwhat outside counsel expects from in-house counsel.

Another new initiative that we are contemplating is the creation of a liaison committee consisting of outside and corporate counsel that would focus on billing, early case assessment and other aspects of relationships between in-house counsel and their law firms.
Editor: What are your goals as the President of the ConnACCA Chapter?

Rudewicz: My primary goal this year is to increase membership. In particular, I am focused on getting our corporate large law departments to become more active and take advantage of the package pricing of membership dues available to them. It is a real bargain.

Editor: What has been the benefit to you and your company of your membership in ConnACCA?

Rudewicz: It has been fantastic. ACC's virtual library is invaluable. For any issue, one can find sample letters, sample policies and other resources in the library to help work through or find a solution to the immediate problem.

Our networking initiatives are beneficial, especially to our smaller law departments, getting them with others with whom to share perspectives.

I am particularly pleased to be able to help our members in transition.As I am informed of job opportunities, I share them with our listserv.

For more information about our chapter, I invite your readers to visit our web page at www.connacca.ccom.