People, Places and Blawgs

Regular readers know that Jeff Carr, the General Counsel of FMC Technologies, is my mentor, my client and my friend.  Our relationship evolved in that order.  I am very proud of each of these steps in the growth of our personal relationship–anytime you can develop a strong friendship with someone who is smart, ethical, funny, comfortable challenging orthodoxy when needed and an all around great guy, you have to count yourself fortunate.  Jeff announced yesterday that he is retiring from his position as General Counsel of FMC Technologies as of August 1.

Jeff’s relationship with management is strong and they did not seek his departure. He is in good health. His family is terrific.  It’s just a good time in life to take some time to travel, relax and think about the future.  And he is in the position to do these things.  Not everyone is, and I know he feels blessed to be in that position and is looking forward to the future with a sense of excitement.

Those who know Jeff best know that he is not a guy preoccupied with the rear-view mirror. He lives looking forward.  I don’t know what “the next phase” will be.  I don’t believe Jeff does either.  Perhaps he gave a hint of where he might go in a recent interview in Forbes:

Parnell: If you were to leave FMC Technologies today, what would you do?

Carr: I’d go to the beach with my wife and we’d relax and travel.  Then, I’d write my book about how to run a high performance legal team, and I’d focus on my other passions: racing cars and jazz piano.  But I’d probably get bored and want to get back in the game—perhaps not in another GC role, but from a completely different platform.  I would ask each CEO I could meet to “Tell me what your legal spend has been for the last 5 years.”  I’d then look them straight in the eye and say, “I will do all of your legal work for you at 80% of what your average spend has been. And of that 80%, you only pay me 80%, and then you give me a report card on performance and link that to payment of 0-200% of the hold back.  With that upside/downside approach, ultimately I will make 80-120% of what I bill you. In your worst case scenario, you will pay me exactly what you have been paying on average for the last five years. But you would only do that if you were absolutely delighted.”

How can I do that? I am absolutely convinced that there is enough inefficiency in the way that [companies are] currently providing or accessing the legal system that we can eliminate that. And over time, we can drive year over year performance gains by focusing on prevention as opposed to focusing on reaction.

Having worked so closely with Jeff over the years, I am confident that such a business endeavor would be hugely successful.  But perhaps while sitting on a beach somewhere in the world listening to Jimmy Buffet, Jeff might be inspired in some other way.  Whatever “the next phase” might be, I know it will be both successful and a challenge to the orthodoxy of the legal system.

It has been a great honor to be one of Jeff’s lawyers, and an even greater one to become his friend.  I look forward to continuing our discussions about challenging the profession to be better than it is, and challenging law departments to do more as well.  Congratulations on a job well done, my friend.  Relax, enjoy the world.  And when Marie finally can’t take you being home so much, let’s find something fun to do!

Those familiar with my writings know that I am a huge fan of Jordan Furlong.  His thinking is illuminating and his writing is extraordinary.  Jordan, who is both a partner with Edge International and a consultant with Stem Legal, has teamed with Stem Legal’s Founder Steve Matthews to produce Content Marketing and Publishing Strategies for Law Firms.  The book is a quick read–it is only 75 pages–but don’t let the length of the book mislead you about the value of its content.  In five chapters, Jordan and Steve cover strategy, content, distribution, culture and metrics.  They include several case studies that help illustrate the points they are making. While Valorem’s inclusion as a case study may color my strong feelings about the value of Content Marketing, Jordan’s and Steve’s stature in the legal community and the history of their thoughtful contributions more than justifies a trip to the website to take a look at the book and judge for yourself.

The latest insight from my partner, Nicole Auerbach, in her monthly feature, Insights From The Corner Office (even though she voluntarily gave up her corner office for more windows and a better view):

It is commonly held that people with mentors progress faster and are more satisfied with their careers than those without mentors.  It will probably come as no surprise to learn that women are less likely to be mentored in the work place than men. Perhaps this is because people are inherently drawn to those who remind them of themselves, and men still hold the majority of positions that would lend themselves to being a “mentor.” Couple that with the often-unspoken issues that can arise when a more-senior man spends one-on-one time with a younger woman, and we can see why many women may never have what they would call a “true” mentor. Does that mean upward mobility is impossible? Not at all.

There is no reason why there can’t be a conglomeration of people who end up serving as mentors. In fact, if we acknowledge that one person rarely exhibits all of the traits that we most want to emulate, the idea of a patchwork mentor becomes that much more appealing. Looking back, that’s exactly what I had.

Read the rest of Nicole’s post at The Legal Balance.  You can also catch her wit and wisdom in her periodic tweets, @ValoremNic.

 

PS–She’s right!

Dave Bohrer signing paperwork to join Valorem

At the chime of the midnight bell on April 1st, Valorem now has on office in Silicon Valley.  We are so pleased to announce that David Bohrer has merged his Confluence Law Partners practice into Valorem.  Dave’s addition gives us a powerful patent litigation presence on the West Coast as well as a disciple of the gospel of value-based fee arrangements.  Many readers of this blog will recognize Dave from his FlatFeeIPblog or his tweets (@DBohrer).  Dave is an accomplished patent trial lawyer, and will be working with Marty Lefevour and Manotti Jenkins, patent litigators in our Chicago office, giving us a robust patent trial presence.

Here is our press release. Valorem-Confluence press release 3 -2013

 

Scott Curran, the Deputy General Counsel of The Clinton Foundation (yes, that Clinton Foundation), was this year’s first guest speaker at Valorem’s “Lunch With a Cool Person.”  The mug  presented to Scott confirms he is, in fact, a “Cool Person.”  Scott was incredibly gracious with his time and his insights and ideas, and my Valorem colleagues and I are ever so grateful.

One great takeaway that Scott left was how the Clinton Foundation makes the most of its meetings and events.  The Foundation is action-driven, so every event ends with commitments by each person attending to do something.  What happens if they don’t do what was promised?  They can’t come back.  Apparently the former President has called some close friends and told them they would not be able to attend a major event (perhaps the Clinton Global Initiative?) because the person has not followed through as promised.  The result?  People follow through.

I can’t tell you the number of conferences I’ve attended where promises were made and, for the most part, not kept.  I think the Foundation’s approach is inspired, and I thank Scott for such a great take-away.

The FlatFeeIP blog fits into Valorem’s wheelhouse: it addresses the importance of value fees in IP litigation, particularly patent litigation.  That is what Valorem does–litigation for fixed fees–so it only made sense for our patent guys to team with Dave Bohrer, the blog’s publisher.  Today is my partner Manotti Jenkins‘ innaugural post–Why Samsung Losing Its Appeal Is Not Such A Bad Thing: Another Perspective.  Take a look.  Let me know what you think.

 

In many speeches, I have urged in-house counsel to pool their pricing information since doing so, and making it public, would create targets that competitive law firms would try to beat.  I believe that price transparency, which clients have within their power, will have the single largest effect on lowering prices and increasing value.  But there does not seem to traction for this in the corporate world.  The same is not true in the individual consumer world, thanks in large part to the entrepreneurs at AttorneyFee.com.  It was my great pleasure to have lunch with Richard Komaiko and BeiBei Que, two of the team behind the business.  It was refreshing to see two enthusiastic business persons with a great understanding of their market and how their business can make an impact.  AttorneyFee is making fees for basic personal legal services like estate planning, real estate, basic criminal work, bankruptcy or debt relief and other areas transparent in a number of markets.  I think this is a great tool in this area.  I can only hope that once they conquer the area of personal legal services, the principals at AttorneyFee bring their innovative thinking to the corporate legal world!

Manotti Jenkins

 

Valorem Law Groupis pleased to announce that Manotti Jenkins, a veteran IP attorney, has joined us as a partner.  After spending the last year in solo practice, Manotti felt that  Valorem  provided the perfect platform for his practice, which focuses on patent and trademark litigation and counseling, as well as copyrights, trade secrets and rights of publicity. Before coming to Valorem, and before his year as a solo, Manotti was a partner at Katten Muchin Rosenman in Chicago.  He began his career at Barnes & Thornburg in Indianapolis after graduating cum laude from the Indiana University School of Law in 1996. Manotti has substantial patent trial experience, and he worked with Marty Lefevour at Katten.  Marty brought his patent practice to Valorem in January.

We are psyched about adding two lawyers with the skill sets Marty and Manotti have.  Patent litigation is one of the “Mt. Everests” to conquer from an alternative fee standpoint.  Valorem is bringing its message of value, and its established approach to non-hourly billing, to patent litigation and Manotti and Marty together give us a fantastic platform to work from.

The cup's message: "Yup, I'm cool"

At Valorem, we periodically host “Lunch with a Coop Person.”  Today’s “cool person” was Sam Yagan, founder and CEO of OkCupid.com.  Sam is a serial entrepreneur, having started SparkNotes and eDonkey, among others.  It was great hearing his views on the traits of an entrepreneur.  One of the key traits he identified was a bias toward action, which made my colleagues and I feel good about ourselves, since we share that bias.  Sam also explained the workings of Excelerate Labs, a Chicago accelerator program for promising start-up companies.

There might be a lesson or two we learn from our LWACP lunch companions, but most of all we learn about the world outside the law.  It is a great program and the entire firm, from admins to founders, look forward to these lunches.  If you know any “cool people” in the Chicago area (or if you are one), let me know.

We really appreciate Sam taking the time from his busy schedule to share the lunch hour with us.