Journalists Journal: Anthony Paonita (Editor In Chief, Corporate Counsel)

by Tom Mariam on May 18, 2013

Anthony Paonita

Anthony Paonita leads the editorial team of Corporate Counsel, the ALM monthly that focuses on in-house counsel and related issues impacting corporate America. Anthony discussed the legal industry from the general counsel side, as well as his publication with our Tom Mariam.

What are the key issues/challenges facing Corporate Counsel today?

Keeping costs down while maintaining quality. Bad surprises, like bribery allegations abroad. Justifying the department to the C-suite.

What emerging trends are you seeing among corporate counsel over the past year?

Dealing with the health care law, and internal “conversations” over whether the compliance function should be within the legal department, or separate. Continued worries over electronic documents as more and more employees bring their own devices, and chat on social networks.

How dependent do you feel in-house counsel are on outside law firms?

It depends on the work and the company and its culture. For bet-the-company stuff, very dependent. For routine work, it can go either way.

What are corporate counsel seeking when considering external law firms?

Someone they can trust, predictable and successful outcomes, mindfulness over costs.

How is the working relationship evolving between in-house and outside counsel? Do you feel corporate counsel are taking more control over law firms?

It’s all over the place. Again, very culture-dependent. If they’ve done a convergence program, they’ve drawn closer, and the client really scrutinizes every move. I do think clients feel more empowered. Whether they act on it is situational.

Are in-house lawyers underappreciated or under-recognized because of the attention that law firm attorneys tend to receive, especially in the media?

I think they’re over that. A lot of them would rather be under-recognized. Internally, they’re more crucial, have inserted themselves more into the business. If they feel under-appreciated, maybe they haven’t sold themselves well enough.

How has Corporate Counsel evolved as a publication and managed to keep its own identity.

We’ve morphed more into an online presence. We have a certain tone—supportive of our readers yet not afraid to point out where some have gone wrong, as cautionary tales.

How can law firm marketers and communicators help Corporate Counsel with its coverage of the legal industry?

Tell us stories, real ones. We want to know how firms work with clients, how matters are won, how much they cost, how the partnership works in real life.

What is your background?

New York native, recovered lawyer (never practiced). Long-time legal journalist who takes breaks every now and then to write about technology, food, transportation, and music, for other publications.

What would you like us to know about you aside from being a journalist?

Son of an Italian immigrant, father of a couple of young women, married to my best friend. Musician, amateur photojournalist, and I escape to Italy whenever I can, to recharge the batteries.

Tom Mariam

Tom Mariam is the President of Mariam Communications LLC. You can reach Tom at tom@mariam.biz.

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