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Posts Tagged ‘Telemundo’

The decomposition of legal work into discreet task has always fascinated me as in house lawyer.  The hypothesis was that by decomposing, or breaking down repetitive legal work into tasks, one could train non-lawyers to perform those tasks.

For example, one of the most repetitive tasks as a media lawyer for NBC and Telemundo was responding to requests by production to use video or images without a license or permission. The defense for this in news and sports is the fair use of the content. The analysis is too complicated for busy deadline fighting producers to learn. But an intern from law school or any intelligent person could easily learn it and apply it systematically. The methodology is simply breaking down the analysis into modules or task clusters.

Once the process of decomposing legal process begins to gain momentum, the resulting clusters or modules will become more or less standardized. These modules can be outsourced to legal process outsourcing (LPOs). The LPOs will bid for them based upon price, their available infrastructure (talent and systems) and past performance.

It is not inconceivable that these modules become units or widgets that can be processed in different parts of the world at different prices and smoothly supervised and reassembled by the client. This would in effect make legal services a wide open global opportunity. It would in effect erode the monopoly of locality and jurisdiction.

Are you ready?  How do you prepare for this?

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We all know how that inquiry ends.

My favorite answer to that question came from the first associate I ever hired.  A former Marine, older than me and solid as a brick of gold, Rod would always lift up a clenched fist, cocks it as if about to strike a blow and says slowly: “let me do to you what they should have done to me when I was asking about going to law school!!”   Chuckle chuckle!

It was right after Hurricane Wilma. The entire street was without electricity and my neighbor was running me a line from her generator to power my refrigerator, one light and a fan!  As is common during these post apocalyptic events, neighbours actually emerge and talk to each other on the street.  What else is there to do?

I’m talking to a group of about 5 neighbours, including one in a bathrobe and towel that stopped on her way to hot shower at another neighbour’s with a prized gas heater. A young mother approaches with a somewhat tiny 14 year old son and tells me her son wants to be a lawyer.  I clench my fist, lift it up to my face as if ready to strike and I see terror in his little face.

I can’t do it like Rod. Instead, I blurt out if I were to do it all over again I would study finance.  Now both of them are confused.

I explain. The most important additional skill to have is understanding finance.  Knowing how money flows. How to structure deals, that are mutually beneficial to both parties, have minimal tax implications, allow you a percentage of the deal.  Recently, we have seen a mayor push towards lawyers learning finance, especially in-house lawyers.

When I was sent to GE University in Crotonville, GE paid a Columbia professor about $20,000 to teach 160 lawyers finance for a day.  In this large u-shaped auditorium, the front middle row had only 2 seats: Cohen and Colon. Day and night. Cohen was a tax lawyer for GE, former CPA and LLM in tax law – quiet as a stone underwater.  Colon: NBC and Telemundo media counsel, former tabloid lawyer, knows everything about TV, movies and celebrities, and can’t stop talking.  At some point in our accelerated finance education we were asked to perform a complex equation.  10 minutes into the lecture no one can answer the question regarding this equation – except Cohen. He mumbles, quietly at first, then louder. But will not raise his hand. Lawyers from 40 countries are falling over each other to get the right answer. To be the one to get a triumphant “YES!” from Columbia’s finest.

I urge Cohen on, “c’om on, say it, raise your hand, you know it!” He shakes his head while recoiling from his paper pad as if it had turned into a venomous snake.

“You do it”, mumbles Cohen.

Without hesitation, I raise my hand and answer.

“YES!” shouts the professor. “Finally!”

I beam, knowing the entire auditorium is wondering how I (the TV guy) solved this finance puzzle.  Ahh…it feels good to be the finance king.

“Colon, how did you solve it?” asked the elated professor

Silence in the auditorium, everyone listening. I laugh and say, “it was easy. He told me – pointing to Cohen.”  Auditorium breaks out into laughter. Thus did my first great moment in finance pass.

Moral of the story: if you still can’t grasp finance, sit next to a genius. Money doesn’t care who answers the question as long someone is paying attention to it.

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