Kelly Law Registry: Staffing Solutions And Sarbanes-Oxley

Wednesday, September 1, 2004 - 01:00

The Editor interviews Mike Ende, Managing Director,
Kelly Law Registry.

Editor: Mike, please give us some background on yourself and Kelly Law
Registry.

Ende: I am a 1989 graduate of Fordham University School of Law. After
I graduated from Fordham, I practiced law for twelve years at Cullen and Dykman
in New York where I was a partner in the firm's Banking Department specializing
in banking and financial regulatory, compliance and corporate transactional
matters. I joined Kelly in 2001. I now manage its New York, New Jersey and
Stamford, Connecticut offices.

Kelly Law Registry has been in business since 1987. It is among the top legal
service providers serving the staffing needs of law firms and law departments
nationwide, including many of the top tier law firms and 75% of the Fortune 500
companies.

Editor: As you know, we have covered Kelly's partnering relationship
with DuPont. Does it have similar relationships with other clients?

Ende: We absolutely do. Every client is treated like a business
partner; one that we want to make successful. We make an effort to develop a
clear understanding of our clients' business and its needs. If our clients have
a staffing problem, we encourage them to come to us - and talk it through with
us. We pride ourselves in working with clients to find solutions to even the
most difficult problems - and in responding promptly. We are happy to share our
expertise when clients come to us and say, "These are the people I have in
place, and I'm not quite sure I have the right resources."

One example of our partnering attitude is that we know that clients often
face critical deadlines. We are proud of our track record for helping clients
meet those deadlines no matter how impossible they may appear. We provide our
service seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We are available to
our clients on a round the clock basis, so whenever and wherever they have a
need, we're prepared to deal with it. If a client has an immediate need, and we
only have a few hours in which to respond, we're going to meet that deadline.
For example, we recently had a client call one of our offices at 5:30 one
afternoon, requesting 100 lawyers for a document review that had to begin at
7:00 a.m. the next morning. By that time the next morning, we not only had
assembled the 100 lawyers, but also provided them with a physical location
outfitted with computers where the review could take place. We also provided
round the clock meal service for all the people involved, including 75 attorneys
from the various law firms who were involved in the project. Our client told us
that if it had not been for our efforts, the project would not have been
completed on time.

We also look for ways to use technology to enhance our partnership with our
clients by making the ability to work with us more convenient and
cost-effective. Among the new technology we've implemented is a product called
Web Time, which allows our temporary and contract employees to enter their time
cards online and permits our clients to approve employee time cards online.
Another is eOrder, which allows our clients to send a staffing request online,
as opposed to having to send an e-mail or place a phone call. We are also very
well-versed in the implementation and use of various third party legal e-billing
and matter management technologies.

Editor: Let's assume that as a result of Sarbanes-Oxley, a general
counsel feels that his or her department needs to hire additional lawyers, both
at a senior supervisory level as well as specialized lawyers in particular
specialty areas.

Ende: If we receive a call from a general counsel who needs this kind
of staffing assistance, we quickly take in all the information that we need to
identify the right candidates for the assignment. Whatever the need, we have
been able to come up with the right candidates to fill that need.

We have candidates who can serve successfully as the general counsel of a
Fortune 1000 company - because they have previously served in that capacity. We
can also find specialists in even the most highly specialized practice areas.
And, we have a process that enables us to build a file for each candidate that
enables us quickly to locate people with the characteristics required by our
corporate clients.

Because the focal point of so many of the scandals was accounting fraud,
Sarbanes-Oxley places a heavy emphasis on measures designed to curb such fraud.
Therefore, there is a great demand for specialists in law and accounting -
lawyers who know not only the applicable legal principles, but are also familiar
with the accounting rules. Even in this practice area where the total pool of
practitioners is quite limited, our database includes a significant number of
candidates specializing in this field. We can also help smaller companies that
wish to find contract lawyers who may have had experience as general counsel or
assistant general counsel in small law departments, who have sufficient
knowledge of a broad range of practice areas so that they can identify a
potential problem that should be referred to outside counsel for in-depth study.

Editor: Tell us more about how you find the right attorney for the
job?

Ende: We consult our very extensive database to see if we can find the
right matches. Our database includes the numerous applicants that seek us out as
well as those who were brought to our attention by our recruiters. We also reach
out to the heads of local ACC-A chapters or the chairs of their
members-in-transition committees. They are eager to help and frequently can
provide us with the names of good candidates. Our close working relationship
with local ACC-A chapters and with bar associations at all levels has also
helped build our database.

Our database contains the names of many candidates who have previously worked
on assignments for us. This gives us first hand knowledge of their on the job
performance. Therefore, we are in a position to say that this person worked for
us, this is what he or she did and this is how the law departments that had
taken them on as contract employees felt about their work. We are constantly
increasing our pool of candidates who have worked for us and are available for
future assignments.

We personally interview each candidate and go through a detailed checking
process, including verifying academic credentials and previous employment and
talking to references. We also track the educational qualifications of
candidates for particular assignments, including courses taken currently to
update their existing skills or to learn new skills, which can be very important
because of the range of skills required to meet the demands of Sarbanes-Oxley.
Our goal is to be able to present the client with enough information to make a
decision - the kind of information that they would expect from the finest human
resources department. We will also provide the client with a written candidate
profile that summarizes a person's experience above and beyond what is reflected
in the four corners of the resume, so that even initially when corporate counsel
is taking a look at the multiple candidates, they have access to vastly more
information than would be contained in a resume.

Editor: Sarbanes-Oxley will undoubtedly generate more investigations of
questionable situations. Can Kelly put together teams of lawyers qualified to
assist in such investigations?

Ende: We have devoted a lot of our focus and resources towards being
able to furnish our clients with teams of lawyers (including, in some cases, a
team leader) who can work together to accomplish major missions. Corporations
faced with litigation challenges currently enlist us to put together such teams.
This has been particularly true of securities litigation where we have an
extensive list of contract attorneys who have become familiar with the needs of
clients. Teams of contract lawyers have also been assembled to help with the due
diligence required in connection with a merger or acquisition. There too we have
lists of people who are very familiar with the issues. Our focus is in trying to
maintain a substantial database of candidates, with expertise in reviewing
documents and responding to inquiries. Every one of our offices is focused on
having groups of people who have worked for us in these areas before and who
have the expertise the client desires.

A number of clients, like DuPont, not only use us to serve their legal
departments, but also ask their law firms to use us on their matters. In this
way, they achieve great savings. Under these arrangements, law firms work with
members of our staff familiar with their corporate clients' needs and use
contract attorneys and paralegals that in many cases are already familiar with
the needs, culture and legal concerns of their corporate clients, thus reducing
the need to bring them up to speed on these matters. Furthermore, DuPont and
other companies ask us to bill them rather than the law firms. This produces
further savings. These efficiencies and cost savings have been particularly
great in those instances where we have furnished teams of lawyers and paralegals
to meet our clients' needs.

Editor: Some corporations retain contract attorneys looking to making
them regular members of their staffs if they prove out in terms of ability and
compatibility. Is this practice one that you encourage? What about using
contract attorneys as roving general counsel?

Ende: We are pleased when our contract attorneys find permanent
employment. A growing number of employers are adopting the practice of testing
lawyers as contract employees before making them permanent members of their
legal staffs. They find this reduces the cost and aggravation of terminating a
newly hired employee who proves to be unneeded or unsatisfactory. With the
advent of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, we would expect to see even more companies
adopting this practice if they find that they need to staff up to meet its
challenges. Companies that find they need to hire their first inside counsel may
be particularly concerned about being sure they have the right person.

It is true, however, that some contract employees do not seek permanent
employment because they appreciate the life style that contract employment makes
possible. For example, those with family responsibilities can both discharge
those duties and continue their careers.

One of the concepts that we have discussed in the past has been that of the
"roving general counsel." We can supply a candidate at the appropriate level
with the right experience who is interested in working on a temporary basis.
This is an ideal solution for the smaller company that is faced with the need to
respond to requirements of Sarbanes-Oxley, but is not yet sure that it needs a
full time in-house lawyer.