InHouse holds annual GC roundtable

InHouse holds annual GC roundtable
Photographer Sandra Strangemore sets up the photo of participants at this year’s InHouse/ACC roundtable. Photo: Andi Balla
Properly managing legal spending remains the top concern for leaders of Canadian legal departments, said panellists at a roundtable last week organized by Canadian Lawyer InHouse in co-operation with the Association of Corporate Counsel.
The sixth annual InHouse/ACC roundtable had the participation of legal department leaders coming from a cross section of the business community. The group was selected to be diverse in terms of industries it represented and the size of legal departments.

This year’s participants were: Ken Fredeen, general counsel at Deloitte & Touche LLP; Barry Fisher, vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary at SAP Canada Inc.; Fernando Garcia, general counsel and corporate secretary at Navistar Canada Inc.; Sue Gaudi, vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary at The Globe and Mail Inc.; Georgia Sievwright, vice president of law and government affairs at Hewlett-Packard Co.; and Fred Krebs, president of the ACC.

Legal spend management led the discussions, with participants focusing on the relationship with the law firms they hire for external work and budgeting trends in legal departments. Alternative fees and discount arrangements with law firms were at the top of the list, in addition to strategies small legal departments have employed to take more work in-house as a cost-saving measure.

Participants also explored the growing role of in-house counsel in how Canadian companies are run, their reporting lines, and access to management. In-house counsel’s key role as ethical watchdogs for their companies was also explored.

Two other main topics were part of the discussion — privacy and privilege.

Legislative changes and the shifting nature of how business is done in the digital age have placed privacy protection at the top of mind for legal departments across Canada. Roundtable participants noted that in addition to increasing regulations, the biggest motivator to follow strict privacy codes is to protect the company brand.

Solicitor-client privilege as applied between an in-house counsel and his or her company is under pressure internationally. Different rules apply in other jurisdictions. But the roundtable participants said their biggest worry about protecting privilege came from its misuse or lack of understanding in their companies’ outside legal departments, not from erosion of the concept in general in North America.

Most of the participants worked for companies that do cross-border business, so international issues were part of most of the discussion topics — from cross-border movement of data and privacy to protecting privilege when doing business in other jurisdictions.

Look for full coverage, including videos, of the roundtable in the August issue of InHouse.

Free newsletter

The Canadian Legal Newswire is a FREE weekly newsletter that keeps you up to date on news and analysis about the Canadian legal scene. A separate InHouse Edition is delivered every two weeks, providing targeted news and information of interest to in-house counsel.

Please complete the form below to receive the weekly Canadian Legal Newswire and/or the Canadian Inhouse Legal Newswire.

Recent articles & video

PwC powers-up legal services with AI platform

Law careers may start on Instagram…

Top Intellectual Property and Labour and Employment Boutiques survey closes on Friday

Differentiating common law from marriage in family law

Insights on Quebec’s plan to restrict the sale of cannabis edibles

Make legal aid an election issue

Most Read Articles

True North and Rebel News seek judicial review on press accreditation denial for debates

Millennial lawyers look for the value proposition

EY Law overtakes PwC in global alternative legal services rankings

Convicted person has right to lesser of two punishments existing at time of commission or sentencing