Audit Committee Survey Discussion – Corporate Board Member – Video

The following is another worthwhile video from Corporate Board Member, discussing their audit committee survey results, Click Here For Video.

Enjoy, Dave Tate, Esq. (San Francisco)

How to make your third-party provider a true partner – article from Inside Counsel

An article worthwhile reading, from Inside Counsel, How to make your third-party provider a true partner (and the importance of that relationship), for article link Click Here.

Dave Tate, Esq. (San Francisco)

Law firm looking for attorney development supervisor – perhaps similar in part to law schools developing and preparing their JD students . . .

Continuing on the same topic, law schools – law business, I have pasted below a copy of an advertisement that I came across for a law firm attorney development supervisor position.  It struck me that in some ways the position is worded in a manner that is similar to the development and mentoring by law schools of their students while they are still in school and prior to graduation.  I removed the name of the law firm – not that I think that they would mind me using their advertisement as it would be good distribution for their hiring search, and the advertisement is public anyway.

I do disagree with the following job candidate qualifications that are requested in the advertisement: “Undergraduate degree required and 5-7 years relevant work experience. An advanced degree in a related field and/or JD a plus.”  In my opinion a JD and actual lawyer work experience are or should be required, not just a plus, for anyone who is hired for this position.  Letting my guard down a little – about a year ago I interviewed for a similar position with a very reputable law firm in San Francisco but requiring a JD and legal experience.  It’s a very tough competitive legal market folks and the law profession is based on a sometimes archaic structure.  The wording of the advertisement is pasted below.

Dave Tate, Esq. (San Francisco)

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ATTORNEY DEVELOPMENT SUPERVISOR

About the Job

__________________ California Law Firm “Firm” is seeking an Attorney Development Supervisor to lead the Professional Development functions in the ______________, California Office. The Supervisor will oversee and directly support all aspects of attorney development including new attorney arrivals, policies and procedures, evaluations and compensation, training, diversity, career development counseling, attorney relations, mentor program, attorney departures, leaves of absences and be responsible for maintaining attorney personnel records and databases. The Supervisor will work closely with the Office Leader, Practice Leaders and administrative departments. The Attorney Development Supervisor will report to the Firm’s Director of Professional Personnel and Attorney Development.

Responsibilities will further include, but are not limited to:

  • · Implement professional development programs to meet the Firm and Office objectives and foster a sense of community.
  • · Coach, develop and evaluate attorney development staff member(s), working to implement Firm-wide initiatives related to work/life balance, benefits and other arrangements. Works with Firm HR and Benefits personnel on administrative matters related to attorney benefits, flexible schedules, leaves of absence, disability and other leave arrangements.
  • · Serve as confidential resource to attorneys, provide career guidance and manage personnel issues. Provide guidance and direction on Firm policy and standards. Maintain confidentiality in handling attorney relation matters and personnel records.
  • · Direct the onboarding process for incoming, transfer and lateral attorneys, serving as the primary contact and ensuring a smooth and successful integration into practices.
  • · Foster open communication and make recommendations on professional development issues. Work to ensure the growth and development of the department and its relationship with the practice groups.
  • · Plan and attend attorney social functions.
  • · Forecast financial and budget requirements for the department in conjunction with the Office Administrator, Firm-wide resources and the local office Accounting Manager.
  • · Manage the associate and counsel evaluation process including interim feedback, self- assessment and feedback.
  • · Oversee the coordination of office affinity groups, including the Diversity Group, Women’s group, Mother’s group, African American attorneys’ group, Asian American attorneys’ group and other groups as needed.
  • · Identify and makes recommendations for associate and counsel training efforts for practice areas and overall Firm training goals and objectives. Work with the Professional Development Committee to plan and execute the associate mentor program. Work with consultants to coordinate training, coaching and outplacement when appropriate.
  • · Evaluate departmental reports, decisions and analysis in relation to established goals. Recommend new approaches and policies to reflect continuous improvements in the department’s processes and efficiencies.

Broad and thorough knowledge of Attorney Development practices. Ability to organize and prioritize numerous projects and deadlines under time constraints. Demonstrated experience leading and supervising staff. Effectively employ coaching and problem solving techniques. Strong interpersonal skills required to interact with all levels of attorneys and support staff employees. Ability to handle sensitive and confidential matters, use discretion and exercise good judgment. Excellent analytical, organizational and planning skills. Available to work a flexible work schedule, including extended hours. Five plus years of experience with a professional services organization preferred.

Undergraduate degree required and 5-7 years relevant work experience. An advanced degree in a related field and/or JD a plus.

Interested candidates can apply by sending their resume to ___________________.

Note: I have removed the remainder of the posting which was essentially disclosures and disclaimers that are unnecessary to this post.

Split the CEO and the chair roles, or have co-chairs, or have a lead director, or not?

Greetings folks.

The question is: split the CEO and chair roles, or have co-chairs, or have a lead director, or not?

This is a question that can be divisive and pit people on different sides against each other.

This seems to be an annual discussion for shareholders of some of the corporations that haven’t split or in some manner separated the roles.

And each director of a corporation certainly could also voice his or her preference and recommendation about whether or not to split or separate the roles.

What would each director prefer for the processes of the company that he or she oversees, for the board on which he or she serves, and for the CEO that he or she elected?

I have to say that I haven’t seen this issue with respect to nonprofits.  The issue may exist, but the nonprofits that I have been involved with have had separate executive director and board chair roles.

Why spilt the roles? What are the advantages to splitting?

Why not split the roles? What are the advantages to not splitting?

Why select or not select a middle path – the CEO as Chair with a Co-Chair Director or a lead director?  What are the advantages?

I don’t believe that you can necessarily generalize – each corporate situation, and the interactions can be different.

Two of the important issues for me are: who determines what is on the agenda and who runs the meeting?

By determining the agenda, I mean with input from the directors, the CEO, the CFO and others who should be giving agenda recommendations.

But who actually then determines what topics specifically will be on the meeting agenda?

And who actually then runs the meeting?

Because determining the actual agenda and running the meeting can be influential and directive.  This topic of course can also naturally flow into other separate issues which we will not be discussing here – such as the extent of the role of the chair or co-chair and his or her manner of style or governance – controlling, collaborative, facilitative, . . . ?

So, do the directors believe that the CEO should handle those two tasks, the agenda and running the meeting . . . or a chair, co-chair or lead director, and why?

And does the CEO believe that he or she should handle those two tasks . . . or a chair, co-chair or lead director, and why?

What is best for the particular corporation, board, and shareholders?  One approach doesn’t necessarily fit all.

Just some thoughts about decision making on top of what everyone else has already said.

Thanks for listening.  Dave Tate, Esq. (San Francisco)

Witnesses, Don’t Get Too Comfortable – post from the Persuasive Litigator

Another good discussion from the Persuasive Litigator (good for witnesses and public speakers in general about dealing with the stress of testifying), Witnesses, Don’t Get Too Comfortable, Click Here For Article.

Enjoy, Dave Tate, Esq. (San Francisco)

Introducing risk management to the board (and executives)

Two blog post links, discussing introducing risk management to the board, and I added “and executives.”  The initial link is to a discussion by John Fraser; the second link is to a discussion by Norman Marks commenting about Mr. Fraser’s discussion.

Discussion by John Fraser, Click Here.

Discussion by Norman Marks, Click Here.

And a follow-up blog post by Norman, Why it makes sense to consider GRC, Click Here.

Also interesting, but not discussed in detail here, new guideline requirements enacted for offshore drilling operations: train/instruct employees and contractors about safety, injury and environmental risk/uncertainty management, risk/uncertainty management is ongoing all the time 24/7, all employees and contractors can/should report any situation that presents safety, injury or environmental risk or danger, evaluate risks (e.g., likelihood of occurrence and possible resulting injury or damage) and design and implement risk/uncertainty plans and processes, have those plans and processes audited to determine sufficiency and need to modify and improve, appoint people who are unilaterally authorized to stop operations at anytime when they deem appropriate, etc.  Sounds good to me.  I support drilling; I have also previously written about the need for improved risk/uncertainty management, and safety and risk/uncertainty management cooperation and collaboration between operators and operations.  Also good stuff for boards to oversee.

Dave Tate, Esq. (San Francisco)

Focus on internal audit – the path to excellence – from a Norman Marks post

If you’re an executive officer, or a director, or involved in internal audit, governance, risk/uncertainty management or audit committee activities, click on the following link for another interesting and worthwhile post by Norman Marks about the path to excellence in internal audit, and please also read the informed comments below the article, Click Here For Article.

In some respects internal audit continues to search for respect and appreciation.  It is internal audit that must sell itself and its value to executive management, the board, audit and risk committees and professionals, shareholders, governance professionals, and other stakeholders.

Thanks for listening, Dave Tate, Esq. (San Francisco).