Jenner & Block

SuperConference: Managing The Corporate Law Department’s Growing Operational Demands

The 2005 Corporate Legal Times SuperConference in Chicago kicked off with an engaging interactive round-table discussion aimed at helping in-house counsel to effectively manage the growing operational demands of corporate legal departments.  The LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell “Counsel to Counsel” forum was co-hosted by Jenner & Block.

Unlike a traditional seminar involving formal presentations, Lexis’ Counsel to Counsel was a peer to peer discussion between nearly two dozen corporate in-house and private practice attorneys candidly exchanging best practices and mutual concerns.  Corporate lawyers were able to share anecdotes and strategies, while learning from their in-house colleagues with similar issues.  Meanwhile, the outside counsel shared stories and offered practical solutions based on their experiences.

The specific topics included structuring the legal department for effective operational support and responding to heightened demand for compliance reviews and audits.  How to deal with the mounting costs of litigation was also an issue of concern addressed by the roundtable attorneys.

Among the attorneys speaking at the event were Jenner & Block Partners Terrence J. Truax, a member of the Firm’s Litigation & Dispute Resolution Practice, and Jill Sugar Factor, a member of the Firm’s Corporate Practice.

Among other things, Mr. Truax discussed how to manage a cost-effective litigation budget. For instance, he advised in-house attorneys to develop a system for identifying pre-litigation risks.  Such a system, he explained, should allow business units to communicate thoroughly in a privileged context with in-house legal counsel and will practically leverage relationships with key outside firms.

Mr. Truax also said he “can’t overstate” the importance of conducting a comprehensive early case assessment once a lawsuit is filed.

Ms. Factor provided advice on planning as well as managing large-scale corporate transactions.  She emphasized that “it is key to communicate early and throughout the transaction process,” by identifying all team members, addressing structural considerations, and establishing a timeline.  Ms. Factor also explained the importance of the transaction legal team understanding all key provisions in the controlling contract, utilizing experts, and effectively coordinating internal functions with outside legal counsel.