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)

The Law Student / Lawyer Trail

The Law Student / Lawyer Trail

For people who want to go to law school or who are lawyers, the following is my view of the law student / lawyer trail, or stated differently, the primary steps, time periods and activities in the development of a lawyer.

My list includes 8 primary steps, times and activities. And each step, time or activity will in some manner impact and influence what follows, but not necessarily in an absolute way.  The law is a constantly changing environment – for every challenge or change in the law, your practice, or the legal profession different opportunities develop, and people, firms and clients are always looking for better solutions and results or ROI (return on investment).  And these steps or processes should be a collaborative endeavor because working in silos makes it more difficult to identify and evaluate the risks/uncertainties, opportunities and solutions, and to achieve the objectives and results.

Of course this list isn’t the be-all and end-all, as obviously the primary steps, times and activities can be expanded and tweaked.

Although step one is extremely important and covers a long period of time and development, and what you do in step one will significantly impact whether you go to law school, which law school, and your path as a lawyer, you will also note that step one is the only step, time or activity that occurs prior to the law school application process.

Thus, a tremendous amount of development occurs or can occur leading up to and at the time of the law school application and thereafter.

Of course each lawyer’s trail will be different and individual, and also in some respects similar, but each of the 8 steps, times and activities requires that you:

(1) Develop or learn, and continually learn or update;

(2) Current qualifications, expertise, experience and interests that are needed and valued in the legal services market and are available for immediate use;

(3) While engaging in effective outreach and personally connecting and appropriately promoting yourself with the right people so that they (1) really get to know you or of you, (2) respect your reputation and what you are doing and can do for them, and (3) think of you as a go-to person and want you to work for them or much better yet they want to work with you.

1.  First or step one, the lawyer’s personality, life experiences and education before the law school application process.

2.  Second, as a law school applicant, the connection between the applicant and the prospective law schools.

3.  Third, law student mentoring and career development during law school.

4.  Fourth, law student education, experience, training and qualifications developed during law school including both the academic education and the hands-on practical experience.

5.  Fifth, bar passage.

6.  Sixth, as a law school graduate/lawyer, the connection between the lawyer and prospective employers and prospective clients, including the market need and pricing for legal services and practice areas.

7.  Seventh, alumni/lawyer mentoring, career development and connecting after law school.

8.  And eighth, the lawyer’s ongoing continuing education, professional and life experiences, relationships, training and qualifications throughout the lawyer’s career.

Each one of these steps, times and activities is important and will impact development and opportunities, happiness and satisfaction: because there are different and better opportunities available for you; changes do occur in the law and legal services marketplace; sometimes people decide that they no longer want to work with you; sometimes you decide that you no longer want to work with certain people; and sometimes you just want to do something different.

Thanks for listening.

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)



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).

GCs using social media to select law firms, video from Bloomberg Law . . . .

The following video from Bloomberg Law discusses general counsel using social media to select law firms.  My thoughts on the topic.  Social/business media are here to stay.  Each firm needs to determine its approach based on its practice mix and resources that it will commit to the effort.  As with any marketing, there are no guarantees of success.  Some efforts will be viewed successful.  Others won’t.  Strategy should be reviewed and changed as prudent.  Consider the efforts from a ROI viewpoint – but you still need to determine how you will calculate ROI.  New social/business media opportunities are developing regularly.  Overall, any firm that does not evaluate and implement a program that works for that firm is missing an opportunity, and eventually sooner or later will fall behind the competition.  And, lawyers also must be involved in both the design/strategy and the effort – this isn’t something that you can simply assign.

Dave Tate, Esq., (San Francisco)

Click Here To View Video.

Predictive coding – a worthwhile overview article from JD Supra

The following is a worthwhile article from JD Supra, On Predictive Coding – A JD Supra e-Discovery Reader, Click Here For Article.

Dave Tate, Esq. (San Francisco)