Corporate Lab Transactional Clinic: Significant Accomplishments 2013-2014
The Corporate Lab Transactional Clinic successfully completed in excess of 60 projects during the 2013–2014 academic year in collaboration with companies including Amazon, Accenture, Allstate, Baxter Healthcare, CDW, GE Capital, General Mills, Honeywell, Integrys Energy Group, the Italian Trade Commission, JPMorgan Chase, Lincoln Center, Microsoft, Nike, Northern Trust, Schneider National, Schreiber Foods, Sony Electronics, Stericycle, Verizon Communications, and various start-up companies in connection with the Booth School of Business New Venture Challenge (including one of the winners of the competition, Simple Mills). Honeywell, the Italian Trade Commission, and Schneider National were recently added to the client roster, continuing the Corporate Lab’s focus on major corporations in diverse industries, and the Corporate Lab has also added Motorola Mobility and Blue Haven Initiative (a Pritzker family NGO) as clients for the 2014–2015 academic year.
Last June, Corporate Lab student director Phil Caruso spoke about doing business in the U.S. at a conference hosted by the Italian Trade Commission in Castellanza, Italy, entitled “The U.S. Invests in Manufacturing: Opportunities for Italian Mechanical Companies.” Attended by over 75 Italian manufacturing companies and trade representatives from several states, the conference provided advice on entering the U.S. market through distribution channels, joint ventures, and mergers and acquisitions. The Italian Trade Commission connects Italian companies with a team of Corporate Lab students, which assists such companies on contract drafting and corporate governance projects. Following the conference, the Corporate Lab has seen enhanced opportunities to work with the Italian Trade Commission in facilitating cross-border transactions in the years ahead.
This September, the Corporate Lab and the ABA Global Anti-Corruption Committee are hosting a conference, entitled “Supply Chain Integrity and Corporate Responsibility: A New Legal Enforcement Landscape.” Representatives from the U.S. Attorney's Office, federal judiciary, non-profit sector, academia, and Fortune 500 companies are expected to attend the conference, with the goal of (a) offering the first symposium to rigorously explore the myriad legal issues related to corporate social responsibility, and (b) composing a publication on the topic thereafter. This follows the path set by the Corporate Lab’s recent and highly successful conference, “FCPA Corporate Compliance Programs and Third-Party Vetting: Toward a Determination of Compliant Practices.”
The Corporate Lab continues to be successful due in large part to the interesting projects and high-quality work that draw ambitious students and leading organizations to come together to collaborate on cutting-edge legal projects. For example, the following is a representative sampling of the many projects undertaken by the Corporate Lab over the past academic year:
- Drafted and negotiated a settlement agreement relating to a dispute between a client and its distributors;
- Researched shareholder activism and assembled materials for a presentation to a client’s board;
- Conducted a public survey to assess the relative importance to consumers of different provisions of a client’s terms of service;
- Analyzed a client’s social media policy for employees in relation to applicable National Labor Relations Board’s guidelines;
- Revised a client’s form account agreement and terms of sale to comply with new Federal Trade Commission regulations;
- Reviewed and cataloged a banking client’s account control agreements to facilitate risk management;
- Created a “playbook” of software license agreement provisions, ranked from most favorable to least acceptable, to assist a client’s employees in negotiating such agreements; and
- Assisted a startup client form a limited liability company and negotiate operating agreements.
Beyond these substantive projects, the Corporate Lab has continued to host its very successful Speaker Series. The Speaker Series has given Lab students an opportunity to hear from leading practitioners (from both law firms and in-house legal departments) on core areas of law (e.g., the fundamentals of a specific type of transaction), topical business-and-law issues, and those real-world concerns critical to young attorneys’ success (e.g., client development and networking). In addition to many other esteemed practitioners, the following legal and business leaders participated in the Speaker Series over this past academic year: Phil Bach (Director at Valerience); Dennis Chookaszian (former chairman and CEO of CAN Insurance Companies); John Flavin (director of Chicago Innovation Exchange); Jim Foorman (Senior Managing Director and General Counsel of Guggenheim Capital); John Frank (Deputy General Counsel and Chief of Staff, Legal and Corporate Affairs at Microsoft); Barbara Kolsun (Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Stuart Weitzman); Kingsley Martin (President and CEO at KMStandards LLC); and Vincent Warther (Executive Vice President at Compass Lexecon).
Furthermore, through the Corporate Law Fellowship program, recent Law School graduates work as paid fellows in the legal departments of major corporations. This year, two of the Corporate Lab’s clients, Microsoft and Baxter, have each accepted a graduating student as a fellow, and several other companies have expressed interest in participating in the future.
Finally, the Corporate Lab hosted the third annual Transactional Challenge for rising second-year law students to provide exposure to transactional practice during the students' first law school summer. Approximately 55 students registered for the Challenge, which allows students to compete against each other in a series of “real world” transactional corporate exercises. The Challenge also gives participating students an opportunity to network with senior in-house counsel and law firm partners as part of a post-competition reception in the fall.