If you are in-house counsel and are not paying attention to government officials and regulators (state, local, federal, international) you are making a big mistake. A company acts at its peril (e.g., Google, Microsoft, etc.) if it underestimates the importance of being aware of what various government regulators are up to or thinking. Your company can be impacted dramatically (good or bad) by what happens through government action (or inaction). Government action can come in many forms, e.g., taxation, new rules and regulations (business-specific or general), government sanctions, import-export controls, legal reform (tort law, patent law), merger control, data privacy/security, public company regulation, and dozens of other areas. Recently, I have read articles on potential new action around patent reform, product regulation outside the United States, data privacy, Internet/net neutrality, Fair Labor Standards Act regulations, and potential new regulations of financial advisors. Depending on your company’s business, some of these issues could have a direct impact on the bottom-line. In short, some part of your company’s business is affected daily by government action (or inaction) either in or outside your home country To be a truly effective in-house lawyer, you need to be on top of this important area. Moreover, being attuned to positive and negative governmental developments is an area where you and the legal function can add great value to the company and show strategic vision.
One goal set out in my sample legal department goals for 2015 was to increase efficiency (and reduce costs) in the legal department. One of the easiest ways to do this is through the use of technology. This can mean anything from apps for your smartphone to sophisticated software programs running on servers at your company. For some, using technology can be daunting and frustrating. For others, it is as easy as falling off of a log. But, to be a successful in-house lawyer or general counsel you need to embrace technology and make sure your team does as well. So, if you are afraid of technology, you need to get past that.
One issue with using technology is that the choices are almost endless and it can be difficult to distill things down into a useful list. This edition of “Ten Things” takes on the task of listing some key technology that can help you increase your own efficiency as well as the efficiency of your team or the department overall. I am going to assume you know how to use Microsoft Office products (free and pay) and Google products (free), so those tools — certainly very useful — are not included. That said, if someone asked me to list my ten key technology tools for an in-house lawyer, here they are: