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Weekly News Roundup: EU-Japan Trade Deal, In-house Diversity

Photo: Japan's Prime minister Shinzo Abe is welcomed by EU Council President Donald Tusk and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at the EU Japan leader's summit meeting in Brussels on July 6, 2017.

D iversity is becoming undeniably important for in-house counsel, whether it’s in their hiring practices or international business deals. Below are the latest news stories that impacted the corporate law industry this week.

European Union and Japan are free to trade

The EU-Japan trade deal begins February 1, eliminating more than 90 percent of tariffs between the two economic superpowers. The multinational partnership will impact a third of the global economy. In-house counsel working in these regions should develop strategies for cross-border deals to stay ahead of the curve and prepare for any potential challenges.

Amazon and Walmart face roadblocks in India

Amazon Inc. and the Walmart Inc.-owned Flipkart are rushing to reorganize their vendor workflows and relationships in order to meet India’s new ecommerce regulations. Passed in December 2018 to protect small businesses, the rule prohibits ecommerce companies from “exercis[ing] ownership or control over the inventory” of vendors.

The retail giants must remove products that don’t comply with the regulations by February 1. India has still not joined 76 countries in signing an agreement urging the World Trade Organization (WTO) to develop new cross-border ecommerce regulations.

GCs in the US say to outside counsel: Diversify or lose our business

Diversify your legal teams or lose our business, say 170 US general counsel to their outside counsel. The GCs signed an open letter, which they posted on LinkedIn. "We expect the outside counsel we retain to reflect the diversity of the legal community and the companies and the customers we serve," the letter states.

The statement was sparked by the announcement of 12 new partners at the New York law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. All of the new partners were white men, except for one woman.

Sustainable practices loom large

Litigation related to climate change may be spreading. Linda Kelly, senior vice president and general counsel of the National Association of Manufacturers, has hired a special counsel to handle the issue — the managing partner of the Washington, DC, office of Shook, Hardy & Bacon.

The bankruptcy of California utility PG&E from more than US$30 billion in costs from wildfires may also force more companies to come to grips on how they will respond to the effects of climate change. The 2019 ACC Chief Legal Officers Survey revealed that 47 percent of CLOs have a significant role in crafting sustainability policies.

M&A linked to corporate sustainability

When asked what prompted the organization to develop a sustainability plan, inside counsel anticipating M&A activity in 2019 were slightly more likely (61 percent) than those who do not to say that reputation was a major driver of sustainability planning, according to the 2019 ACC Chief Legal Officers Survey.

Forty-three percent expecting M&A activity in 2019 report that being a “choice brand” was a driver in their decision to undertake sustainability planning, compared with 33 percent of CLOs who don’t expect M&A action this year.

The information in any resource collected in this virtual library should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on specific facts and should not be considered representative of the views of its authors, its sponsors, and/or ACC. These resources are not intended as a definitive statement on the subject addressed. Rather, they are intended to serve as a tool providing practical advice and references for the busy in-house practitioner and other readers.