To The Readers Of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel:
I am honored to begin my term as the twenty-fifth President of the Washington Metropolitan Area Corporate Counsel Association (WMACCA). WMACCA is changing with the needs of our 1,300-plus in-house counsel members from more than 500 corporations and private sector organizations. We are the largest regional in-house counsel bar association in the United States and the largest chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel.
In the post-Sarbanes-Oxley world, which often requires sophisticated counsel who possess deep organizational knowledge, the decision to "make" or "buy" for companies appears to be tipping towards in-house counsel. Companies are using a larger portion of their legal services budget to purchase legal services wholesale (in-house counsel by the year) instead of retail (law firms by the hour).
We have also seen a paradigm shift in the credentials of in-house attorneys. Because compensation is much more competitive than just a few years ago, many more attorneys are interested in moving from law firms to in-house. In addition, even though the number of hours worked in-house is coming much closer to private practice, in-house practice may be more appealing because it has a "business oriented" mindset measuring performance on "getting the job done well" instead of common law firm metrics (hours billed and client originations). Moreover, law firm life for many includes "big case" discovery work, matters in-house counsel can hire temporary attorneys to handle or merely farm to firms. Finally, in-house practice also may allow an attorney to work across disciplines and as part of the business team, which may be more satisfying than the strict specialization found in many law firms.
With these changes in the landscape, it is time for WMACCA to increase its visibility and impact. We need a stronger presence; one that better reflects the increasingly significant role in-house counsel plays. To this end, I am pleased to report the formation of a WMACCA Advocacy Committee and a WMACCA Public Relations Committee.
During my term, WMACCA will continue to provide significant opportunities for CLE and networking. In January, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell spoke at our Annual Meeting. In April, our keynote speaker will be former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. This spring, we also will offer a "mini-executive MBA" and a spring social featuring a panel comprised of counsel for major professional sports leagues and players.
With the increased specialization of in-house counsel, we also have expanded our in-house only "forums." In January, we created our eighth substantive committee, a litigation forum designed for senior in-house litigators.
This year, we will further develop our outreach to local law schools and continue to nurture our Corporate Scholars program. We also have established a Board task force on improving governance. We continue to be grateful for our "partnerships" with most major DC law firms, whose support helps us accomplish many of our projects.
I would like to thank the membership for this opportunity and look forward to hearing ideas for improvements.
Eric D. Reicin