Elizabeth D. Moore, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc., recently shared her views with Thomson Reuters’ Practical Law The Journal: Transactions & Business (PLJ) about the Law Department of the Future initiative and the goals of creating a high-performing, flexible work culture, and recruiting and developing the next generation of diverse leaders.
PLJ: How is the legal function structured?
Moore: We are essentially an in-house law firm that handles most of the company’s legal work, including commercial transactions and litigation, labor and benefits, environmental matters, personal injury and property damage claims, and regulatory matters. The corporate secretary and the Business Ethics and Compliance (BEC) Group, headed by the Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer, are also part of the law department.
PLJ: What are the top goals or areas of focus for the law department? Are there any innovative ideas the law department has adopted to further its goals?
Moore: Over the past three years, we have implemented the Law Department of the Future initiative. The components of this initiative include creating a high-performing, flexible work culture, recruiting and developing the next generation of diverse leaders, developing strategic partnerships with business organizations, implementing a technology platform enabling greater productivity and efficiency (including reduced reliance on paper documents), and organizing work to support alternative work arrangements.
PLJ: What three things does a law firm need to do to impress you?
Moore: 1. Be responsive. Our deadlines are real. Recently, a law firm partner prepared a comprehensive memo overnight that I needed for my discussion with the CEO. Understanding the work and not straying from the direction given is also important.
2. Be positive. The issues we face can be challenging and daunting. Outside counsel should become part of the team, be creative, and work with us to solve problems. No whining.
3. Be incredibly good. We will engage a law firm because it has specific expertise. We are looking for access to the leading subject matter expert.
PLJ: If not an attorney, what would you wish to be?
Moore: I would be the editor of a small-town newspaper. I enjoy learning about local politics, policy, social issues, and viewpoints. I think being an influencer would be interesting.
PLJ: What book has influenced you the most?
Moore:The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro was published shortly before I joined public service in New York. The story of Robert Moses’s outsize influence within government and his positive and negative impacts on New York’s infrastructure is fascinating. It also shaped my thinking about the importance of an ethical environment in government.
PLJ: What is the best career advice you have ever received?
Moore: As a young attorney, I was offered the opportunity to interview for the position of Assistant Counsel to Governor Hugh L. Carey. I had spent my entire life in New York City and the idea of moving to the state capital, entering public service, and taking a sizable pay cut was daunting.
A mentor, Edward Hammock, a law school professor and senior-level member of Governor Carey’s administration, convinced me that the opportunity to serve the New York State Governor at this early stage of my career was not to be passed up. Spending 14 years in state government in positions of increasing responsibility, culminating as Counsel to the New York State Governor, was a life-changing experience.
Read the full interview in the April issue of Practical Law The Journal: Transactions & Business.
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