Letter From The President Of The Greater New York Chapter Of The Association Of Corporate Counsel

2013-05-23 13:35


To The Readers Of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel:

For in-house counsel, value is a complex proposition. As stakeholders in our businesses, we are uniquely attuned to – and in some cases, responsible for – value as a financial metric. As lawyers, we apply a different calculus to the value dynamic. Regardless of the lens, however, there has been increasing focus over the last year on the nature of the relationship between in-house counsel and their outside law firms and how these relationships can be improved to provide greater value for both parties. This focus is long overdue.

Interestingly, recent survey data from the ACC Chief Legal Officer Survey points to positive signs that we are focusing on meatier relationship drivers. The age-old battle cry "please return my phone calls promptly" has been replaced by the desire for outside counsel to better understand our businesses and the industries within which we operate. Responding to contraction in client law departments, many law firms focus on secondment as a way to deepen their relationships with clients. Another positive development is evidenced by the fact that alternative fee arrangements are becoming more mainstream, with value-driven structures less “alternative” and more of an operational necessity. The tide is changing, and this is a superb time to engage in dialogue with external advisors and peers to identify strategies to do our jobs with greater efficiency and efficacy. 

As an organization, ACC GNY seeks to add value to its members by providing in-house practitioners with a full suite of events and services to support counsel in companies of all sizes. At our recent Ethics Marathon, for example, Stuart Teicher presented “What NASCAR, Jay-Z, and the Jersey Shore Teach about Attorney Ethics” to almost 200 attendees. Following the presentation, we celebrated the chapter’s 30th anniversary. Providing peer networking opportunities continues to be a core focus of our chapter.  Last month, we hosted a wine tasting at City Winery, where members had an opportunity to network and enjoy wine from one of the premier wine-testing venues in New York City.

We also work hard to stay abreast of, and responsive to, the key issues facing the in-house bar. By way of example, several ACC GNY board members met with members of the New York State judiciary to discuss how ACC can encourage and support statewide pro bono initiatives. On the ground, to facilitate our members’ pro bono work, the chapter has established alliances with three pro bono partners: Pro Bono Partnership, Legal Outreach and Lawyers Alliance for New York. We hosted more than 150 in-house lawyers at a program earlier this spring to learn about opportunities for in-house lawyers to work on discrete projects in their specialties without having to rely on large-company infrastructure to support pro bono activities. This summer, we will host an all-day seminar to examine a number of cross-disciplinary topics and provide a full day of CLE credits. Our new Corporate and Securities Group will hold its next meeting on June 18 to examine recent developments in M&A. Finally, the inaugural meeting of our women’s group is expected to take place this summer and has garnered significant interest from our membership. We look forward to seeing you at our events this summer.


David H. Brill