ten things

Ten Things: An Index to All the Posts (November 2014 – February 2022)

Howdy, everyone!  Greetings again from Texas.  It’s been a while since I last did an index to all of the posts in the “Ten Things” blog.  Since the last one (July 2020), we’ve added over 1,300 new subscribers and we are now over 5,400!   And we are well into year eight of the blog.  All of which just absolutely, positively blows my mind.  A huge “thank you” to all the loyal readers out there, especially to those who pass along the blogs to friends, colleagues, and on LinkedIn.  That said, I know it can be a pain in the ass to wade through all of the blogs and try to find what you’re looking for.  So, for all of you new kids and for you crusty veterans, this index post is long overdue.  I may get around to putting an index on the site, but if you saw my desk, you’d realize just how much of a pipe dream that is.  I do have a new blog ready to go, but have decided to publish it next month and we’ll put the “act” back into “practical” (man, that sounded way better in my head).

This edition of “Ten Things” sets out – in chronological order – all of the “Ten Things You Need to Know as In-House Counsel” blogs, from the November 2014 introduction to last month’s post on building your executive presence in-house.  It was fun for me to look back through these.  I found a few surprises that made me go “when did I write that?” and “why do I have so much free time?”  The first ones are a little rough, but I got better – I think.  You be the judge:

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Ten Things: Best Blogs (And Other Media) for In-House Counsel (2021 Edition)

Well, here we are at the end of another year.  I hope all of you are having a wonderful holiday season.  As usual, I like to take a few minutes every December to reflect back on the year and take stock of where we are with the “Ten Things” blog. It’s been a busy year for me, but I have enjoyed every minute of it.  I have published my fifth book, Showing the Value of the Legal Department: More Than Just a Cost Center, I have been a guest on several podcasts (thanks!), I have put on a large number of presentations (live and via webinar), and – of course, I keep cranking out the blog.  Somehow, we’ve already started “Ten Things” year number eight!  As my mom often asks, “How the hell did that happen?”  And I am excited for 2022, with plenty of things to write about for at least one more year.  That said, I always love getting (and writing about) suggestions from you, so feel free to send them my way.

As usual, we will end the year with what traditionally has been a post about the ten best legal blogs for in-house counsel.  I enjoy finding and reading the work of great writers, especially the up-and-coming “next gen.”[1]  They have a lot to say and it’s worth reading! Like last year, I am going to shake things up a bit and add non-traditional bloggers, i.e., podcasts and LinkedIn writers to my list.  I am also going to (finally) list my “Top Ten All-Time Hall of Fame Legal Blogs,” just to give some love to blogs I am still reading after many years.[2]  Sometimes you just have to reward the wonderfulness of sticking around (right, Boomer?)!  So, with no further ado, this edition of “Ten Things” sets out my 2021 list of best blogs (and other media) for in-house counsel:

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Ten Things: Essential Issues for In-House Counsel (2021 Edition)

Welcome back, everyone!  I hope your holidays were joyful and restful (and COVID-free).  I was able to make a bit of a dent in the next book, so the ABA goons are leaving me alone… for now.  I did have some time to squeeze in the first “Ten Things” blog of 2021.  As usual, and like I did when I was general counsel, I like to start the year by sitting back and just thinking about all the crazy shit going on out there in the world and how it might impact my company and the legal team.  When I was in-house, I would use this exercise to help me plan out the year, set goals, and – most importantly – set some tripwires for starting to measure and balance risks to the organization.  So, I have been reading a lot, talking with in-house lawyers, and generally trying to figure out what’s hot and what’s not.  No surprise but it looks like a lot of last year’s list is still pretty relevant (click here to read the 2020 list).  But, there are definitely some new players on the field.  And, the idea here isn’t to figure out every possible thing that can cause problems or provide opportunity – that’s impossible (See COVID-19 for more details).  Rather, it is about doing your best to find a lens to help you anticipate the problems you can anticipate so that the issues that inevitably come out of nowhere are easier to deal with or do not hurt as much.  In other words, looking ahead to maximize value creation and minimize value destruction.  Also, you should know that my New Year’s resolution for 2021 is to be a bit more pithy with the blog.  We’ll see how long that lasts (maybe not even to the end of this one).  Anyway, let’s start the car and hit the road!  This edition of “Ten Things” takes a look at my predictions of the essential issues for in-house lawyers in 2021:

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Ten Things: An Index to All the Posts (November 2014 to June 2020)

Greetings from hot, humid Dallas, Texas where I am “sweltering in place” as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wear out its welcome.   It’s so hot and icky here that apparently Satan – on a vacation visit – said, “Screw it, I’m heading back to Hell where it’s cooler!”  Those may not actually be his exact words, but you get the point.

For those of you who have been along for the ride since late 2014, you know that we are coming up on six-years of “Ten Things.”  Along with longevity, we’ve picked up almost 4,200 subscriber “followers” along with hundreds more who get the blog directly through other means.  Many of the posts have been republished in legal newsletters, magazines, law school classroom materials, seminar materials, and other forums.  As I’ve said many times in the past, that all just absolutely, positively blows my mind.  A huge “thank you” to all the loyal readers out there, especially to those who pass along the blogs to friends, colleagues, and on LinkedIn!

As I was working on some new blog posts this past week, I realized that I have not posted an index to all the posts in over three-years.  That’s a long time (and I am first to recognize that it can be clunky to try to work your way to past blogs that might be relevant to what you’re looking for – I guess you get what you pay for with a free WordPress site…).  So, I decided to put the new blogs off to the side for a bit (don’t worry, they’ll be posted soon enough), and put together an updated index to all the posts, going back to November 2014.  I was a little shocked to see that we’re up to number 119!  That’s a big pile of …, well, a big pile of something.  Hopefully, of things you want to read.

Anyway, just in case you needed something more to read while you’re working remotely, or maybe you’re a new follower and had no idea there were so many posts, this edition of “Ten Things” sets out – in chronological order – all of the “Ten Things You Need to Know as In-House Counsel” blogs, from the November 2014 introduction to last month’s post on improving your 1:1 meetings.  Have fun (and don’t laugh too much at the early ones – I got better!):

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Ten Things: Essential Issues for In-House Counsel (2020 Edition)

When I was a kid there was a Saturday morning cartoon show called Sealab 2020.  I remember thinking that was a long, long way off and wondering how old I would be when 2020 rolled around – – and whether by then there would really be a giant lab on the bottom of the sea with 250 oceanauts fighting sea monsters and battling pollution.  But, here we are; it’s 2020!  I am officially old(ish) and, sadly, sea monsters go un-battled under the ocean (unless you count Wicked Tuna), but pollution on (and in) the high seas runs rampant.   Triple bummer.  What does this have to do with “Ten Things” you ask?  Nothing other than a little nostalgia and the “2020” reference as this is my first post of the New Year.  As usual, we’ll start the year with my list of essential issues for in-house lawyers to pay attention to over the coming months.  When I was general counsel, I started every year thinking about the “big picture” and what risks (good or bad) might be coming down the pike that I needed to be aware of as an in-house lawyer.  It’s not an easy task as there is so much “out there” that can have an impact on your company and legal department.  Still, it’s better to try to anticipate some than to ignore all.  So, once again, I have sat down, read a lot, and thought hard about different issues that will likely have some substantial impact – positive or negative – on in-house lawyers and for which a little bit of preparation or pro-active attention can make you a hero vs. someone caught flat-footed.  With the usual caveat that I have no crystal ball showing me what’s important, here my “Ten Things” 2020 edition of essential issues for in-house counsel:

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Ten Things: Ten KPIs All In-House Legal Departments Should Track

I have been struggling to write this post about KPIs.  It’s taken way longer than it should have – with several starts and stops.  First, should it be KPI or KPIs?  Just like the debate over RBI and RBIs in baseball, passions run hot on this point.  I think “KPIs” sounds better so I’m going with that.  Second – and slightly more important than the KPI/KPIs controversy – KPIs don’t work particularly well for in-house legal departments.  Actually, I had this eureka moment a long time ago when I was first asked as General Counsel to provide “SMART”[1] objectives for the legal department for an upcoming calendar year.  I literally had no clue what they (HR) were talking about.  And when I asked them for some examples, it was clear they had no clue either – at least when it came to developing SMART objectives for the legal department.  For other parts of the business, SMART objectives seemed obvious and worked great.  For legal, not so much. But, I (and my team) eventually figured it out and designed goals that were a little squishy – “SMART-ish” – but to which no one objected.  You can see some examples of this in an older post titled “Setting Goals for the Legal Department.”

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Ten Things: Sexual Harassment Claims in the #MeToo Era

While in-house lawyers are always concerned about sexual harassment claims, the last year or so has provided a loud wake-up call regarding the highly negative impact of such claims on employees and on the company involved.  While women can certainly engage in sexual harassment, the headlines over the last year – and recently with CBS CEO Les Moonves – are littered with deplorable accounts of men using their power to take advantage of female employees.  These headlines follow a sea-change event where sexually-abused and harassed woman are refusing to suffer in silence.  Instead, beginning with the downfall of movie producer Harvey Weinstein in late 2017, they are coming forward in waves with their stories, bringing with them a glaring hot spotlight on the darkest corners of corporate offices all over the world.  This is the #MeToo era.

While the news headlines tend to focus on the misdeeds of the rich and famous, for in-house lawyers the concern is local – but just as important.  The #MeToo movement provides added urgency for in-house lawyers to make sure their company is doing the things necessary to prevent disaster and ensure a safe workplace for women and men.  As usual, dealing with sexual harassment claims in the #MeToo era comes down to getting the basics right.  For many companies, it is easy to trace the devastating impact of a particularly damaging sexual harassment claim to two problems: failure to properly investigate and failure to take appropriate action.  This edition of “Ten Things” discusses the key things you should be doing to both prevent sexual harassment from occurring and, if it does, properly investigating and resolving such claims:

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Ten Things: Getting the Most Out of Mediation

Almost all in-house lawyers have dealt with mediation at some point.  If you haven’t to date, you will. Mediation is a process to resolve disputes between parties where a neutral third party helps facilitate the discussions, negotiation, and (hopefully) ultimate settlement of the dispute.  Unlike arbitration, mediation is generally voluntary and non-binding.  Meaning, in addition to picking their mediator, the parties get to decide whether and how they will resolve their dispute.  There are times when mediation is mandated, i.e., the parties must go through the process such as, for example, when their contract requires it as part of a dispute escalation process.  Likewise, there are times when a court will require mediation with the judge (or magistrate judge) acting as mediator (sometimes called a “settlement conference”). Mediation is often your best opportunity to settle a dispute before undergoing the expensive process of all-out litigation and trial.  Unfortunately, many in-house lawyers — or their clients – treat mediation like a poor cousin to arbitration and waste the opportunity.  This is usually because of either indifference or the idea that you can “just show up” and mediate.  Wrong!  There are many things you need to know about mediation in order to have the best chance at a successful outcome.  This edition of “Ten Things” discusses the key points in-house counsel need to know about mediation.

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Ten Things: The First Year – An Index of Posts (November 2014 to November 2015)

As most of you know by now, I retired from Sabre Corporation in November 2014 as General Counsel, Corporate Secretary, and Chief Compliance Officer.   Shortly after that, I began the “Ten Things You Need to Know as In-House Counsel” blog, even though I had never blogged before or thought anyone would be that interested in what I had say.  My goal at the time was to write down a lot of the hard (and easy) lessons I learned over 20+ years as an in-house lawyer and share them with you.  Today, that’s still the goal and, as of November 28,  I am celebrating one year of posts – 28 in all!  My plan is to keep going until someone tells me to stop (most likely that little voice in the back of your head that says “enough is enough”).   We’re not there yet, so lots more planned for Year Two!

As always, thank you for reading the blog and for sending me your comments and ideas for future posts.  I do read them all and I have used a number of them already (and will continue to, so keep sending them).  Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to click on “follow”, regularly read the email updates I send out, and forward the blog to your friends and colleagues. I also want to thank the good folks at Westlaw, LexisNexis, and Texas Lawbook for republishing a number of the posts in their publications for in-house counsel.

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Ten Things: Simple Ways to Reward and Retain Your People

As I mentioned in my last post (January 8), over the next few weeks I will dive deeper into some of the sample department “goals” I set out in that article.  Today I will focus on this goal: “Build and retain extraordinary team with exceptional people.”  I always put my “people goal” first because I truly believe that nothing gets done in legal unless you have top talent that is motivated and happy in their jobs.  How do you keep and reward people so they stick around?  The obvious answer is to pay them well, have a good performance bonus program in place, and let them share in equity plans.  The problem is, for many reasons, it usually is not fully in your control to make any of these three things happen.  For purposes of this article, I am going to assume that you are doing what you can for your team around salary, bonuses and equity and, instead, focus on some low-cost ways you can reward/recognize employees.

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