Recap of the LMA New York Local Group’s 7th Annual General Counsel Forum

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On November 6, Stacey Babson-Smith, VP and Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer for Terex Corporation and Mark Klein, General Counsel of Burford Capital were panelists at the 7th Annual General Counsel Forum moderated by Yelena Dunaevsky, Assistant Managing Editor in Bloomberg Law’s Corporate & Transactional unit. The very engaging program for the New York Local Group was hosted by Bloomberg Law.

Here are some high-level discussion topics about which Stacey and Mark shared their experiences:

Some of the challenges today include changing regulatory and geopolitical norms, including tariffs and sanctions, which change daily as well as GDPR and privacy. They said they rely on outside counsel to keep them abreast of events. 

They keep up-to-date on developing law with content produced by law firms so long as it is crisp, clear and simple (pithy is even ok said Mark). Make it easy for them to forward the content to someone else. 

How do you measure value once you’ve selected an attorney for a matter?

For Stacey, the post mortem is key for each matter. In her current role, an annual review meeting is a given. Free advice never hurts. For Mark responsiveness is the deal maker/breaker, which is something of which we should all be aware. Reply quickly whether you know the answer or not. If not, you risk losing the business. 

When it comes to meetings and gatherings with outside counsel, what brings the most value?

Stacey prefers core groups with different experts a few times during the year for the give and take as well as the opportunity to meet her peers. Mark concurs if there is something substantive. 

What is your preferred communication style with outside counsel?

For Mark it depends on the firm and wants to speak with the “point person” on the pulse. An open line of communication at any level is good if they are responsive. Stacey values having someone who is very well- versed in the business or issue. Straight talk, little legalese. Be clear and concise. 

How important is it that outside counsel understand your business?

In a word, extremely. For Stacey it is less critical for on- off matters. Mark believes that if you truly want more business from a client, put one of your attorneys on secondment with them for a couple of months.               

How do you provide feedback to your outside counsel?

Mark only does it if there is a problem. If there is an issue, he will give feedback in real time.

Stacey communicates on a regular and informal basis. She makes sure to provide positive feedback to the senior partner when working with an associate. 

Many thanks to our participants for sharing their insights and Bloomberg Law for hosting the lunch and donating the space. And a special thank you to Lynn Tellefsen and Joe Edmonds for their hard work in putting the program together. 

About the Participants

Stacey B. Babson-Smith has been Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer and Vice President at Terex Corporation since 2008. She joined Terex in 2002 as Corporate Counsel, Human Resources Compliance. In 2005, she was appointed Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, Employment & Global Diversity. Prior to joining Terex, Stacey worked at national and global law firms with a specialty in employment law, labor relations and workforce management and served on loan to key clients as in-house counsel for employment issues and for delivering full HR support. In 2011, she was named a “Woman Worth Watching” by Diversity Journal Magazine.

Mark Klein is General Counsel and is responsible for Burford’s global corporate legal initiatives. Prior to joining Burford, he spent 13 years at UBS in a wide range of corporate roles, including Managing Director and General Counsel of its Infrastructure & Private Equity business, where he worked on all aspects of the business. Most recently, he was a General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer at Marketfield Asset Management, a large U.S.-registered investment adviser. Mark began his career at Weil, Gotshal & Manges as a corporate associate.

Yelena Dunaevsky is the Assistant Managing Editor in Bloomberg Law’s Corporate & Transactional unit, with more than 15 years of experience in capital markets and securities law. Yelena oversees Bloomberg Law's reference content covering securities offerings, corporate finance transactions and other topics relevant to corporate practitioners.

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