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Annual Conference Offers Day-Long 'Mini MBA'

In November 2005, the Northeast Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel held its annual all-day conference, this year with an innovative twist.

The brainchild of Byron Kalogerou and Terry Mahoney of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae (who jointly have 25 years of in-house practice), the program, “Mini-MBA: Business Skills for In-House Counsel,” was generously sponsored by their firm.

The program was presented by Boston University School of Management, which dedicated leading faculty members to teach chapter members important business skills. The membership embraced the program with over 170 attendees and a waiting list of more than 35.

A Full Plate

The program was broken down into four segments. The first, “The New Corporate Counsel,” was presented by Susan Samuelson, associate professor of strategy and policy. Professor Samuelson focused on the role of corporate counsel over the years and today’s renaissance era in which corporate counsel must have management and communication skills to effectively serve their CEO and the company.

Israel Shaked, professor of finance and economics, followed with “The Valuation Battlefield: Financial Issues,” in which he laid out the groundwork of the standard valuation methodologies. He entertained the attendees with real world examples pulled from his valuation consulting practice and the role that valuations play in day to day corporate practice.

Christopher Kearney, president and chief executive officer of SPX Corporation, was the lunch time keynote speaker. Chris reviewed his first year as CEO, after being asked by the SPX board to move into that role from his position as general counsel. The attendees were able to see how Chris’s legal training allowed him to address a tumultuous time at the company, plan a recovery strategy and execute the plan that has restored investor confidence.

William Kahn, associate professor, began the afternoon session with “Harnessing the Value of Change as General Counsel” in which he spoke on effective leadership techniques and strategies for eliminating barriers to change within organizations, and embracing the advantages change can bring to a business. Kahn also covered management strategies and model for organizational change using a group exercise.

The day finished with perhaps what many in the audience found most valuable – “Financial Statement Analysis for In-House Counsel,” presented by Michael Smith, associate professor of accounting. He gave the attendees a roadmap on financial statement red flags, tearing examples from recent corporate scandals. Smith used these examples to highlight key accounting principles and gave the participants the comfort and wherewithal to raise questions in the world of finance.

Awards

The chapter at the all-day conference presented its annual pro bono award to Winston Henderson, vice president and general counsel of Surface Logix, Inc. in Brighton, Mass. for his commitment to the young and underprivileged in his community. Mr. Henderson is on the Board of Trustees of Roxbury Preparatory Charter School, the Advisory Board for the Roxbury Boys & Girls Club, and is heavily involved in advising the pediatrics department of the Boston Medical Center on developing innovative initiatives that affect children and families. He also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Women’s Union.

His contributions to the neighborhoods, families and children of Boston are numerous, his commitment to helping those in need is sincere, and the Northeast Chapter was very pleased to make him the recipient of their annual Pro Bono Award.

The Northeast Chapter initiated its first annual Corporate Counsel Excellence Award to honor that corporate counsel who had made the most significant contributions to the area’s in-house and local community. One of the highlights of the conference was to present the award to Bill Wise, long-time ACC member, chair of the Chapter’s Pro Bono, Ethics and Advocacy Committee, and former ACC National Board member

Apart from these roles, his contributions included spearheading the Chapter’s annual Sheldon Rothstein Pro Bono Mediation Services in local courts, championing ACC Northeast’s efforts to ensure a fair level of funding for legal services for the poor, serving as a member of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s Pro Bono Committee, chairing the Boston Bar Association’s corporate counsel committee, working with area law department members and general counsel to encourage and provide advice regarding setting up pro bono programs, serving as keynote speaker at the Chapter’s First Annual Professional Responsibility Awards celebration and taking a lead role in each year’s pro bono award process.

Due to Bill’s decades-long dedication to ACC and sizeable contributions to the area’s in-house community, the award has been re-named: the William A. Wise Corporate Counsel Excellence Award.

Positive Feedback

Enthusiasm for the program exceeded expectations, with a full house of 170 attendees. Many in our membership who were not able to attend expressed an interest to see such business skill programming in the future.

The feedback from the members was overwhelmingly positive and we would like to acknowledge with special thanks to LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae for its creativeness in coming up with and sponsoring this program and making such an enormous effort to coordinate the topics. We also want to thank the Boston University School of Management for hosting the conference and dedicating its leading (and superb) faculty members to help our chapter members improve their business understanding.

It was such a successful program that Byron and Terry of LeBoeuf, who, because of their perspective gained from years of in-house practice, truly understand the need to blend the practice of law with business acumen and are willing to assist other chapters with this kind of programming. Boston University offered a more advanced one-week Pocket MBA” program focused on in-house counsel earlier this month.

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