Top 10 from the 2011 ACC Annual Meeting
As if guided by the unofficial U.S. Postal Service mantra, neither rain or shine, nor snow and sleet could stop the 2000-plus general and corporate counsel attendees from the Denver Conference Center for the ACC (Association of Corporate Counsel) Annual Meeting held Oct. 23-26. During the conference, attendees truly weathered the elements: a sun-filled record high of 80 degrees on Monday, which yielded to rain and showers on Tuesday, which yielded to a snowy winter wonderland on Wednesday to close the show. But that’s what was going on outside. Here’s my Top 10 recap of the most interesting things said, heard, seen and shared inside the conference:
10 – Reflecting the increasing global influence of the organization, new ACC President Veta Richardson welcomed members to the conference hailing from more than 30 countries, including: China, Brazil, Germany, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Bermuda and Trinidad. I am guessing that counsel from Trinidad and Bermuda didn’t bring a heavy, warm coat.
9 – Want to be my ”friend” or “linked?” Every corporate legal department is wrestling with the challenges posed by social media, reputational risk and privacy concerns. No one using social media should have any expectations about privacy. Operative word: social.
8 – Most practical piece of advice shared with corporate counsel: “No one in the business cares about the legal problem … unless it’s framed as a business problem.” Susan Lichtenstein, CLO of Hill-Rom Holdings.
7 – Managing outside counsel legal costs remains a major concern of in-house legal departments. Ask anyone standing in the sold-out, standing-room-only Outside Counsel Management workshops, where best practices and war stories related to value pricing and legal project management were traded.
6 – Best pasta analogy used during the conference: during the Courageous Counsel: Conversations with Women General Counsel in the Fortune 500 keynote lunch: “Career paths are not like lattices or paths. They are more like spaghetti balls that roll and are messy.” Amen, sister!
5 – Attendees were advised to acclimate to the high altitude of the “Mile High City” and stay well hydrated. Undermining this sound advice? The numerous vendor and ACC chapter sponsored happy hours, networking receptions and cocktail celebrations held throughout Denver. Anyone suffering the morning after these events? No worries; clearly, the headaches were a product of the high altitude.
4 – Looking for tools and resources to introduce legal project management techniques to your Legal department? Or maybe you are a law firm with a desire to deliver better value to your client? Look no further than the ACC’s revamped Value Challenge website launched during the show.
3 – Myth-busters! Law firms continue to bill using the dreaded hourly rate and often rely on the excuse of “a lack of data to price alternative fees.” Not so fast, warn the many legal departments who have experienced great success using alternative fees; benchmark information to make data-driven decisions is available. Maybe they were thinking of the new data products which caused quite a buzz on the exhibit floor, such as Serengeti Intelligence and WestlawNext Matter Benchmark Reports?
2 – Corporate counsel witch-hunt? According to the “Corporate Counsel Under Scrutiny” session, in the U.S., between six to nine criminal, civil or administrative cases are brought against in-house lawyers every year. If that doesn’t keep corporate counsel up at night, I don’t know what does.
1 – What’s in store for the next ACC Annual Meeting to be held in Orlando, Sept. 30-Oct. 3, 2012? Crossing my fingers that no winter coat will be required, but if Denver is any indication, you just never know.
Kudos to the ACC for another fascinating and informative conference. To learn more about the ACC, visit ACC.com.