Month: September 2017

Ten Things: Things In-House Counsel Should be Doing Before a Data Breach Occurs

This past week I was honored to be the keynote speaker at the 2017 ACC Alberta Annual Conference in Calgary.  First, let me say that Calgary is a wonderful city and a great place to visit (and the people are awesome too).  Second, a big “thank you” to ACC Alberta for inviting me and hosting a tremendous event.  One of the topics I spoke on was what to do when you are faced with a data breach.  It was a very interactive session with lots of great questions and feedback from the lawyers in the audience.  In particular, we spent some time discussing the recent Equifax data breach and the very negative fallout that company is experiencing – mostly because it seems Equifax was very unprepared to deal with a breach.  This is very surprising given the nature and the amount of sensitive data in its possession.  We also talked a lot about things in-house counsel should be doing before there is a breach.  Some of those things were in my presentation, others were brought forward by members of the audience.  And as I stood on stage listening to the discussion I knew I had my next blog forming right before my eyes.  As important as it is to know what to do if you have a breach, there are a number of things that all in-house lawyers should focus on before there is a breach and by doing so, you can substantially limit the potential damage caused by a breach.  So, with big thanks to my friends from Canada, this edition of “Ten Things” will discuss ten things to do to get your house in order before you are faced with a data breach:

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Ten Things: Career Killers – Things Not to Do as In-House Counsel

I have been an in-house lawyer for almost 25 years, with a large chunk of that time spent as the general counsel. During my time, I have seen my peers and people who worked for me do some really great things and some really foolish things. I certainly did my share of both. As a manager and as general counsel, I often had lawyers ask me, “What are the things I need to do to get ahead here in the legal department?” This is an excellent question and one every manager hopes/expects to hear from their employees, especially those who show the skills and drive necessary to move up the chain. A good manager or more experienced colleague, however, also consider the flip side of that same question and is ready to proactively, or in response to a specific question, counsel in-house lawyers on the things they need to avoid doing to succeed in the in-house world. To cut to the chase, being an in-house lawyer is much harder today than it was 10 years ago, and the wrong move can be your first-class ticket to Unemploymentville. I know that over the long term, I was able to claim the general counsel chair because, among other things, I asked a lot of questions about what I should be doing, but I also listened hard when people told me what not to do or, if I did mess up, I learned the lesson then and there and did not repeat the mistake. That can be easier said than done, especially when the day is jammed with work that needs to get done vs. spending time thinking about what you did – or might do – wrong. I thought this edition of Ten Things should share my list of 10 things that can kill your in-house career:

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