Live blog from Stanford's Best Practices in ECommerce Conference

I attended and live-blogged the Best Practices conference yesterday @ Stanford. Here are links to the entries from the panels I attended:

Copyright Risks
Eulas... contract restrictions... customer protection (oh my!)
Content Syndication & Monetization panel
Lunch: GC Forum
Employee activities...
Privacy and Security
International Questions

{In reading them over, I can't help but notice my typos! When I have some time, I'm going to go back in and clean those up and add in some links that are missing.}

What's missing from that live-blog are my personal thoughts on the conference and the topics. So I'll put some of them in writing here... First, I have to say that this conference is one of those that attracts the Who's Who in ecommerce. The "old" companies like Yahoo! and eBay were well represented. Some companies that weren't traditionally in "e-commerce" like Fujitsu and Williams Sonoma, were also on the panels. And I learned about several other companies that have studied some of the difficult questions (like NeoPets and Facebook) and offered some "good enough" practices on some of the most difficult questions.

Second, I'm just impressed and inspired about the comraderie among the GCs and law departments in these various companies. They are sort of a "club" but they are not exclusive. They recognize that they need to work together on some of these issues, while they may not be 100% aligned on what the right solutions are. Because even the "old" companies are not really that "old", they remember the days when they were just starting up and facing some big questions. The counsel in these legal departments see the value and the need to bounce their views off each other. With so many unknowns in their jobs, I think this comraderie is one of the things that make it easier for them to sleep at night.

My take aways were the following:

    #1. Privacy and data security is the number 1 concern in the legal departments of ecommerec companies. International questions (esp. now the "China Question") is a close second.
    #2. Alternative billing methods and changes to the structure of traditional big law firms must happen to help reign in the crazy legal fees these businesses face.
    #3. If they are going to be effective at all, every in house counsel must gain the trust and respect of the other business managers within the company. Without that respect, the law department wont' be able to effectively solve the company's legal questions.
    And #4. Having attended VloggerCon in SF the two days before this conference, I see a pretty big disconnect on how copyright is viewed from the big companies perspective and from the perspective of the "citizen media" producers or grass roots content producers. It'll be very interesting as these two groups deal with each other overtime.

Regarding #2, I have to point out that one GC (Mary Doyl from Palm) reminded us that this has been a topic discussed for many many years (like her entire career). So, something really big needs to happen make the tradition/structure of law firms change. I wonder what it will take? I don't mean to be pessimistic or cynical about this, but it seems like the big firms have no incentive to really change. Since I established my own practice last year, after having practiced in big law firms for nearly my entire career, I have an opportunity to really think as creatively as I'd like about how I bill my clients for services. I'm not constrained by someone else's billing system or eons of history of how "the firm" has done things. There are no politics here at Vogele & Associates -- just the politics going on in my head (like how do I pay my mortgage and my bills and still do the cool legal work I love doing?)! But, at the same time, I'm somewhat at a loss for how I can effectively and efficiently implement flat fee billing for certain services, other alternative billing methods, or how I can assure a new client that the bills will stay within a certain budget but also give them the 110% service I want to offer.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly for me, I was personally happy to see so many women GC's and law firm partners represented on the panels. I've been in practice for nearly 10 years, and still find it amazing when I go to court and am one of the only women in the room (and sometimes I am the only woman besides the court reporter). To rise to the top in a corporation's legal department or in a law firm is no easy route for anyone, man or woman, but these GCs and partners do provide inspiration for those who want to get there one day as well.

Add new comment