At legal conferences you can always tell which lawyers are in-house counsel. When a speaker drones on about some obscure point of law, most in-house counsel assume what I call the "BlackBerry Position." They grab hold of their smartphones, put their hands under the table, hunch their shoulders and place their elbows on their knees. From this position, they begin conducting business with a flurry of e-mails. I've seen some in-house lawyers remain in this position for hours. The speaker has no idea his audience has checked out.
You'll rarely see in-house counsel assume the BlackBerry Position when the speaker is offering practical advice on how to deal with the daily challenges of running a legal department, such as managing staff, efficiently using outside counsel or making the most of shrinking budgets. In these situations, in-house counsel sit with their backs erect, eyes fixated on the speaker and their hands ready to take notes.
The reason for this is that in-house counsel are starved for best practices and practical information they can use to better manage their departments. They want to know how others are tackling similar problems, and that they aren't alone in their suffering.
One of the ways we showcase best practices is through our annual "IC-10." Published in the September issue, the IC-10 profiles 10 legal departments that have found innovative solutions to some of the common problems in-house counsel face. Some of the solutions are complex and expensive, such as Cisco Systems' homegrown software for processing contracts (see September 2004 Corporate Legal Times). Others are simple and relatively inexpensive, such as Baxter International's use of an advisory board to review every piece of litigation the company faces (see September 2005 Corporate Legal Times).
So how do we come up with the 10? Well, we need your help. If your department is doing something innovative, go to www.insidecounsel.com/editorial_survey and fill out an online nomination form. All you need to do is write a few paragraphs describing the problem you faced, the innovative solution you developed and the outcome. It's that easy. We read through the submissions and select about 25 nominations for follow-up interviews. From there we narrow it down to 10.
For the IC-10 to be of any value, we need as many readers to participate as possible. So fill out the online form or fire up your BlackBerry and shoot me an e-mail at email@example.com with the details of your innovative solution.