Christopher M. Farella, Member of the Firm in the Litigation and Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practices, in the firm’s Newark office, was quoted in Bloomberg Law, in “Conference Report: Law Firm GCs Share Their Most Anxiety-Ridden Scenarios,” by Helen Gunnarsson. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

Rogue partners, lateral hires, conflicts of interest, and artificial intelligence are leaving law firm general counsel bleary-eyed, a panel of GCs agreed at “What’s Keeping Law Firm General Counsel Up at Night,” a March 8 program in Chicago at the 22nd Annual Legal Malpractice and Risk Management Conference …

Meyer then posited a scenario with a call to the firm general counsel from the managing partner about a partner from a different firm to be brought in as a lateral hire. No need for a conflicts check, the managing partner tells you, because the lateral represents the same sorts of clients that the firm already has. And because the lateral has two other offers on the table, the managing partner has scheduled the partners’ vote for tomorrow.

“When the recruiting team wants to get someone in quickly, my job is to slow the process down,” Farella said.

The panelists said clients continue to present law firms with outside counsel guidelines stating the law firm is deemed to represent not only the client but also all entities affiliated with the client and requiring the law firm not to represent any of the client’s competitors. “Try to put the burden on the client,” Farella recommended, and “push back” by, for example, asking the client for a list of its affiliates and competitors. …

Meyer also asked the panelists to comment on law firms’ nascent use of artificial intelligence. Say an associate asks an AI platform such as ChatGPT to produce a memo on a subject, the platform does so within an hour, and the associate puts it on firm letterhead and sends it out. Is there a problem with that?

“It’s an incredible tool,” Farella said, but AI output must be reviewed by humans. He said his firm has guidelines that prohibit members from giving the chatbot any proprietary or client information “because it’s not confidential.”

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