Message from the Chair

By Clara Cottrell 

I am writing this from my kitchen table—probably where a lot of you are reading this whether you are on your laptop or your phone! My kids just tumbled back in through the door (outside time is over, free time [aka device time] has started), and I am wishing I could go outside, too. A lot of us in the Corporate Counsel Section are busier than ever. We are dealing not only with operations, but now strategy and the fires a virus has started. Some of us are wondering if we will have a job when this is all over. Like the saying goes, “my journey is not yours.” This is a stressful and lonely time (see the recent Loneliness in the Law blog post regardless of your situation. And it is compounded by worries around family members, friends, colleagues, and neighbors. Read more

Message from the Chair of the NCBA Business Law Section

The Corporate Counsel section would like to share the following post from our Business Law Section colleagues.

By Ben Baldwin
Chair of the NCBA Business Law Section 

Dear Members of the Business Law Section:

Yesterday (Wednesday April 1, 2020) Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order 125 (“Authorizing and Encouraging Remote Shareholder Meetings During the COVID-19 State of Emergency”).

The Order, which is limited in effect to corporations holding shareholder meetings under the North Carolina Business Corporation Act (the “Act”), is intended to facilitate the holding of shareholder meetings against the backdrop of the Governor’s prior Executive Orders (and various municipal orders) limiting mass gatherings during the COVID-19 crisis.

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Fight Hunger, Help Others in the COVID-19 Pandemic – Participate in the Legal Feeding Frenzy and Support Your Local Food Bank!

By Will Quick Chair, Litigation Section Pro Bono Committee

Our section membership has a strong tradition of supporting and participating in pro bono and community service activities—both those planned and sponsored by the NCBA and those that you undertake on your own or with other organizations. We are in unprecedented times with COVID-19 (Coronavirus), and I am confident that each of you is doing your part.

Even in the best of times, however, over 1.5 Million North Carolinians struggle with hunger—of those nearly half a million are children. With public schools and many religious and nonprofit organizations that traditionally serve the food insecure in our communities being closed for indefinite periods, and government leaders calling for social distancing to help limit the spread of Coronavirus, that need is never more pressing than now.

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Tracking Privacy: State Developments to Keep an Eye On

Erin Jane Illman

Rachel LaBruyere

Alicia Netterville

By Erin Jane Illman, Rachel M. LaBruyere and Alicia N. Netterville

We are into the new year, and we’ve already seen several states introduce comprehensive privacy legislation on the heels of California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). It is no easy task to stay on top of (potentially) 50 different privacy requirements, each with differing applicability standards, definitions, requirements, obligations, and enforcement mechanisms. Cue this series of articles—meant to address developments at the state and (dare we say with fingers crossed) federal level.

Because these bills are coming fast and furious, we are going to focus on the five states that were first “out of the gate” to file their consumer privacy bills in the first two weeks of the new year: Illinois, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Virginia and Washington. We will continue to monitor additional legislation, so please check back for updates and developments.

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How’s Your Relationship (with Outside Counsel)?

By Jane Paksoy

It’s the start of a new year and a new decade. Perhaps you’ve reflected on the time leading up to 2020 and have made some resolutions to better yourself in the new year. Maybe you want to better your relationships with your family, friends, colleagues, or yourself. But what about your outside counsel?  After all, it is an important business relationship; colleague, advisor, direct report all in one. How are you going to strengthen that relationship?

So, as we begin a new year and new decade, it is a good time to ask yourself: How’s your relationship with outside counsel? What could you be doing differently?  We scoured our colleagues (and friends) for some practical advice to get you moving in the right direction.  Consider this your relationship advice, from your friends in-house and outside:

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A Rhyming Reminder For Which you are Wiser . . .

By Josh McIntyre

Good tidings I bring from the NCBA,
For Corporate Counsel dues you no longer pay!

They’re included in your basic membership fee,
Along with 12 hours of On Demand CLE.

Covering ethics, substance abuse and technology training,
We have it all so there’s no need for complaining.

And if in other practices you’re feeling a bit flirty,
You can add another section, of which there are 30.

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New to In-House or Have a New In-House Gig? Here are Five Things to do to Better Understand your Client

By Kathy Twiddy

So, you’ve recently made the leap to in-house life, or perhaps you’ve been in previous in-house roles but have accepted a position at a new company. How do you get off on the right foot in your new job?

Having been in that position a few times myself, here are five things to do that will help you understand your new employer and be a better lawyer for your new client.

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Welcome To a New Bar Year

By Clara Cottrell

Dear Members of the Corporate Counsel Section:

It is my privilege to serve as the chair of the Corporate Counsel Section during the 2019-2020 bar year.  The Section has an outstanding group acting on your behalf as officers, council members, and committee chairs.  I encourage you to see who they are on the NCBA website. Please reach out for lunch, coffee, or just to say hi to any of them and/or to me!

This year the Section is focusing your membership dollars on deepening connections among ourselves, the members.  We have plans for at least three no-cost networking events. They are being spearheaded by our Membership Committee, Pro Bono Committee, and Section Council.  These will be non-CLE events designed for maximum connectivity – without those team building exercises we all love and hate.

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International GC Panel In Durham April 10

By Clara Cottrell

It is a time for exciting new beginnings, but it is also when new laws and regulations go into effect.  What if you had to take into account laws and regulations around the globe?  Whether it is privacy, employment, or something else entirely, the global regulatory landscape is as varied as the cultures of the lands they govern.  On April 10 at Mez Contemporary Mexican restaurant the Corporate Counsel Section with our friends at Smith Anderson will be hosting a panel of international GCs to discuss legal matters across borders.  How do you source and supervise outside legal counsel three time zones and an ocean away from you?  How do you advise the business on risk when the risk is based on a completely different legal environment?  These GCs will talk through how they handle these types of issues, and a legal staff, every day.  This thought leadership panel will be at lunch, 12-1:30, with plenty of time for participants to ask questions and dig into practicalities during the panel or afterwards.  In order to facilitate that small group environment, participants will be limited to the first 45 that sign up.  There is no cost to Section members, and only $15 for non-members.  Lunch will be provided, but not CLE credit.  So, save the date, and keep an eye out for your email invitation.  We look forward to seeing you and hearing from you on this interesting topic.

Panelists:  Stefan John, Senior Vice President and General Counsel at BASF Corporation; Christine Mazzone, General Counsel and Company Secretary at Plant Health Care, Inc.; Norma Formanek, Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Trilliant Networks Inc.; Owen Lewis, General Counsel at Chiltern, a Covance Company


Jan. 25 Is the Date For Section CLE and Annual Meeting

We are less than one week away from the Corporate Counsel Section’s CLE and Annual Meeting.  Kicking off our agenda will be our general counsel roundtable, which will speak to our theme “Taking Care of Business: How Good Lawyers Become Great Business Partners” from a leadership perspective.

Join us Friday, Jan. 25 at the Bar Center in Cary or live via webcast. Get more details and register here.

Some of the topics our panelists will discuss include:

  • How to structure an efficient department
  • Making the business case for technology tools and additional staff
  • Outside Counsel selection
  • Contract Management processes and tools
  • Being a legal department of one
  • Working with the Board of Directors
  • Establishing partnerships within the C-Suite

This panel features a group of GCs with diverse experience and knowledge.  Joining us for the discussion will be:

  • Scott Duggan, SVP-General Counsel and Secretary of The Fresh Market: Scott joined TFM just prior to its 2010 IPO and helped build a robust Board of Directors which included leaders of well-known retail and life-style brands.  Scott also leads TFM’s real estate, development and facilities functions and recently wrapped up his second stint as interim head of human resources for TFM’s nearly 12,000 employees in 24 states.
  • Stacy Gray, General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Belk, Inc.:  Stacy is on the Boards of the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association and the Charlotte Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel.  Stacy was named by the Charlotte Business Journal as a nominee for the 2018 Outstanding General Counsel Award and the winner of the 2016 40 Under 40 Award.  The Charlotte Business Journal awarded the Belk legal team the 2018 Outstanding In-House Legal Department.
  • Paul Griffin, General Counsel for The Select Group, LLC:  In 2013, Paul joined The Select Group (an international technical services firm) and started the legal department from scratch for the fast-growing company.  Paul’s accolades include acceptance into the 2016 North Carolina Bar Association Leadership Academy, recognition in 2019 Business NC’s Legal Elite, 2014 Triangle Business Journal Corporate Counsel of the Year Rising Star award, and 2014 Outstanding Young Alumnus of the Lundy-Fetterman School of Business.
  • The panel will be moderated by Jill Louis, a partner in the Dallas office of K&L Gates, LLP. She concentrates her practice on various aspects of private equity representation. She also advises on the creation and implementation of contract management processes for companies. Prior to joining K&L Gates, Jill was the general counsel for a large private equity portfolio company with over US$1 billion in annual revenue.

The panel will also explore the importance of exuding executive presence in one’s interactions within the legal department, with the Board and senior leadership.  Wendy Bryant Gow (CEO and Founder of Lily Winston) will join us for this segment.  Wendy is an image consultant, stylist and brand strategist whose company focuses on personal brand development and helps clients make the right first impression in the corporate setting.

We hope to see you on Jan. 25 at the Bar Center in Cary or live via webcast!  Click here to register.