To The Readers Of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel:
In August of 2013, just prior to taking over as president of the Association of Corporate Counsel Greater New York Chapter (ACC-GNY), I chaired a meeting of the Board of ACC-GNY in which we outlined our programming agenda for 2014. While I was confident that we had the organization, talent and enthusiasm necessary to accomplish our goals, I knew it would be a challenge to live up to the Chapter of the Year recognition we received from ACC in 2013 and the resulting increased expectations of our members. I knew it would take dedication from the Board and a consistent focus on member concerns in order for us to deliver on our obligations as Chapter leaders.
In reflecting back over the past several months, I am truly pleased with our progress and believe that we have met and, in many cases, exceeded the ambitious goals we set for ourselves last August. Here is a snapshot of some of the Chapter’s programming accomplishments thus far:
In January 2014, we kicked off the year with a fantastic and well attended lunch CLE at the Harvard Club hosted by Stroz Friedberg, where the panelists addressed challenges facing in-house counsel in data security, email retention and outside requests for data.
With great enthusiasm, we reintroduced our Intellectual Property Practice Group with a new sponsor, Cowan, Liebowitz & Latman, P.C. The Cowan team, including Kiernan Doyle, one of the firm’s intellectual property litigation partners, worked closely with long-time board member and Intellectual Property Practice Group chair, Vince Castiglione of VF Sportswear, to develop two outstanding intellectual property programs – the first covering the ins and outs of the new top-level domain names, and the second, a roundtable discussion dealing with intellectual property protection for new products. Both events saw full registration, and in fact, the demand for the roundtable was so great that Cowan offered a second presentation. The Practice Group rounded out its programming by hosting a very fun and sophisticated night of “Copyright and Jazz” at Smalls Jazz Club in the heart of Greenwich Village in May.
The Chapter hosted a new member breakfast at the offices of MetLife in midtown, where board members Brian Campbell of Dice Holdings, Inc., Simon Kyriakides of the American Arbitration Association and Pauline Arnakis of Morgan Stanley presented to new and current ACC-GNY members on the value of ACC membership and the resources available to members, including CLEs tailored to in-house counsel, written materials on a wide variety of topics accessible from the ACC’s website, pro-bono resources and networking opportunities.
The Chapter’s long-time sponsor, Dentons, hosted its second advanced contract drafting seminar. Dentons partner, Stafford Matthews, gave a lively and incredibly informative presentation on the creative uses of ambiguity in contracts. Mr. Matthews presented to a capacity audience on the importance of precise drafting in agreements and the impact that language has on contract interpretation. An experienced lawyer might consider a CLE presentation successful if he/she is able to leave the session with one or two “nuggets.” Attendees of this CLE walked away with a veritable gold mine of useful drafting tips and tools, including a presentation packet rich with useful information.
The Chapter hosted its third annual pro bono/community outreach social event at Astra, and as in the past, the quality of the CLE on the ethical representation of nonprofit organizations and the post-CLE wine tasting reception did not disappoint. During the event, the Chapter’s pro bono partners, Lawyers Alliance of New York and Pro Bono Partnership, each gave short presentations highlighting pro bono opportunities available to in-house counsel through their respective organizations.
The Chapter, together with its digital technology practice group sponsor, Loeb & Loeb LLP, hosted a vodka-tasting party to officially launch the Chapter’s new Digital, Technology, eCommerce and Privacy Practice Group. The gathering took place at a beautiful conference venue in Loeb’s New York office. Attendees mingled, sampled a variety of high-end vodka brands, enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and listened to a short presentation from the practice group chair, Pauline Arnakis, and co-chair, Frank Clark of Infosys about the practice group’s 2014 programming agenda. The crowd was enthusiastic, and this kick-off served to build momentum for the practice group’s two substantive CLE programs, a fascinating and informative look at behavioral advertising held in April and a cutting-edge program focused on key legal issues surrounding mobile commerce held in June.
Navigant, one of the Chapter’s platinum sponsors, hosted a breakfast roundtable discussion with Harvey Pitt, former SEC chairman, where Mr. Pitt led a lively discussion concerning economic and regulatory trends impacting general counsel.
The Chapter hosted its two signature CLE events in May and July, respectively. The May CLE was a half-day event titled “Data Marathon – Hot Topics for In-house Counsel” covering legal issues associated with managing data in a technology-driven business environment. The panelists presented to a capacity crowd on topics ranging from cloud computing to international privacy and data protection. The July CLE was the Chapter’s second annual full-day CLE event, appropriately titled Full-Day CLE: A Legal Toolkit for In-house Counsel. In addition to scoring six hours of valuable CLE credit, attendees were treated to a fantastic lunch and great post-CLE reception at one of New York City’s best venues, the Metropolitan Club.
The Chapter’s newly created Diversity Group hosted an exciting program titled "Diversity and the Next Generation of General Counsel -- Positioning Yourself and those you Oversee for Advancement." Over 100 members and guests attended the event to hear from Ricardo Anzaldua, executive vice president and general counsel, MetLife, Inc.; James T. Breedlove, senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary, Praxair, Inc.; H. Gwen Marcus, executive vice president and general counsel, Showtime Networks Inc.; Neil H. Wilcox, general counsel, Chase Card Services Legal Department; Melba Hughes, partner, Major Lindsey & Africa, LLC; and Adrienne K. Eason Wheatley, partner, Latham & Watkins LLP, the Group’s sponsor, who moderated the panel as attendees heard ways to facilitate the inclusion, retention, and promotion of diverse in-house counsel.
The events described above are only a sampling of the many programs and initiatives that the Chapter has undertaken since the beginning of the year. The Chapter’s Women’s Group, which has experienced tremendous growth and high rates of participation over the past year, continues to put on top-notch programming designed to advance and support women within the profession The Employment Law Practice Group, along with their sponsor, Ogletree Deakins, are active in keeping practice group members up-to-date on the latest developments in employment law. The same holds true for the Chapter’s other practice groups, including the Retail and Real Estate Practice Groups.
On the community outreach side, the Chapter sponsored a constitutional law debate with its community outreach partner, Legal Outreach. High school students participating in the Legal Outreach debate program debated the controversial contraception mandate outlined in the Affordable Care Act. ACC-GNY members served as judges and had the pleasure of asking students tough questions and offering positive feedback at the conclusion of the program. The Chapter has also continued to work closely with its community outreach partner, PENCIL, on a variety of initiatives designed to support the development of New York City public school students.
The goals we set for the Chapter during our August 2013 planning session were indeed ambitious, and while I am pleased with our progress thus far, there is still work to do. As we look forward to the rest of 2014, we will continue to offer our members and the in-house community at-large high-quality and relevant educational presentations, networking and professional development opportunities and access to pro bono and volunteer programs. We hope you will consider taking full advantage of these resources.
To learn more about ACC-GNY and our upcoming programs and events, please visit us at www.accgny.com.