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Association of Corporate Counsel Annual Meeting 2017 Recap

By: Connor Breza



This year, eWhite House Watch had the privilege of attending the Association of Corporate Counsel’s 2017 Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. on October 16–18, 2017.  Corporate Counsel from around the world flocked to the nation’s capital for what is recognized to be “the world’s largest gathering of in-house counsel.”  Beginning on Sunday October 15, the convention continued into Wednesday the 18th, hosting a plethora of events geared toward educating in-house lawyers on the latest on current legal issues and providing an excellent opportunity to network and broaden attendees’ legal horizons.


One of the more notable programming that captured our cyber/privacy focus was “Rise of the Machines: Can Compliance and Litigation Keep Up”, featuring speakers Khalid Al-Kofahi, Vice President, R&D, of Thomson Reuters; Cynthia Boeh, General Counsel for Other World Computing; Mark Huller, Senior Counsel and General Manager of the Legal-Litigation Department of The Cincinnati Insurance Company; and Martin Tully, Co-Chair of Akerman LLP’s Data Law Practice Group.  This event focused on the implications of AI (artificial intelligence) on the legal field including anti-money laundering, anti-fraud, and export-sanctions compliance programs, discussing questions such as: “Will it eventually be considered negligent to not use AI to identify and monitor compliance risks?” as well as other possibilities for AI in litigation.


“Advising a Board of Directors When Your Company is in Distress” was also one program of particular interest. Speakers Suzanne Folsom of United States Steel Corporation, Stephen Plotnick, partner at Carter Ledyard & Milburn LLP and Meritas-Law Firms Worldwide, Jill Schatz, Corporate Secretary and Board Member at CNOC, and Olvin Valentin, General Counsel of Seaborne Airlines discussed in depth the strategies that a board of directors can engage in to help protect companies and the board from incurring liability to shareholders and creditors when their corporation is in distress.


Other notable programs included “General Counsel’s Role in Cybersecurity Preparedness and Legal Liability from Cybersecurity Exposure”, “The Emerging Law and Public Policy of Self-Driving Vehicles”, “The Federal Trade Commission on Unfairness, Deception, and Consumer Privacy Enforcement Actions”, and “Transformational Payment Services: How FinTech and New Payment Regulations are Impacting Transactions in Europe and Around the World”.


The program “Mapping and Leveraging Stakeholders in Litigation Matters”, moderated by Ilona Korzha, highlighted the nuance of corporate litigation when there are multiple stakeholders involved. The panel, made up of speakers Wendy Bozzolasco, Senior Litigation Counsel of Sunpower, Robert Daniel, Senior Director of Integreon’s Financial Services Practice Group, Brad DeVore of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, LLP, and Matthew Fore, VP of Litigation for Hilton, went in to detail on the various methods of neutralizing and leveraging parties, internally and externally, who may have an interest in a corporation’s litigation. The program highlighted ways that utilizing a “stakeholder map” can “help in-house counsel identify and analyze litigation resources, timing and communications.”  The ACC described this event as a “must-attend for anyone managing large litigation.”


The ACC holds itself to be “the voice of the in-house bar”, maintaining an international membership of more than 43,000 in-house lawyers at over 10,000 corporations and NGO’s in 85 different countries.  This year, the ACC Annual Meeting offered in excess of 100 CLE/CPD sessions, including greater than 30 hours of networking for the more than 2,500 in-house counsel in attendance from over 35 countries.


Ilona Korzha, of Sprint and who also serves as an executive on the ACC Litigation Committee, considers the ACC Annual Meeting to be the must-attend conference of the year “because I can connect with like-minded corporate counsel with diverse experiences in a collaborative way, and feel comfortable sharing solutions to the common challenges we face in our ever-changing changing landscapes.  She adds: “Equally important – I have access to a select few of trusted, quality outside counsel whom I’ve grown to respect and turn to for perspective and insight over the years.”


Fernando M. Pinguelo, partner and chair of Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Cyber Security & Data Protection and Crisis Management groups, agrees and found himself speaking with many corporate counsel about such hot-button issues as cyber security in the wake of the high profile hacks that some have experienced, and added, “unless you’ve been the victim of a breach, or work with professionals who have regular experience with breaches, it’s difficult to truly appreciate all the moving parts and nuanced uncertainties and judgment calls that go into a response plan of action. Having access to such wealth of knowledge and experience is invaluable to our clients.”


Founded in 1982, the ACC now has a prominent presence worldwide with 59 chapters spanning almost every continent across the globe.  As President and CEO of the organization, Veta T. Richardson’s top priority is to “increase ACC’s global footprint and leading the organization through a strategic plan and vision designed to strengthen its position as the global voice for in-house counsel.” Ms. Richardson’s most recent accomplishment as CEO was leading “ACC’s membership merger with three national associations and their integration as ACC Middle East (Dubai), ACC Australia and ACC Hong Kong within the 59 chapter network, and increasing ACC’s membership by 10 percent.”


On Tuesday, October 17th the ACC offered several awards to distinguished entities. These included honoring Troy Swan, the head of legal and company secretary at Winc Australia & New Zealand (Formerly Staples Australia & New Zealand) with the Robert I. Townsend, Jr. Member of the Year Award; the Mastercard Law Department with the Matthew J. Whitehead, II Diversity Award; Exxon Mobil Corporation’s Pro Bono Program with the ACC Corporate Pro Bono Award; among several other awards to the ACC’s various chapters and committees.  Acknowledging these recipients achievements, Ms. Richardson commented, “Whether through pro bono and diversity initiatives or membership recruitment and innovative programming efforts, this year’s award recipients have played an important role in driving change within the global legal and business community.”


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