Kamala D. Harris
Attorney General of California
RILA, in partnership with the Retail Litigation Center (RLC), kicked off the 2013 Retail Law Conference Wednesday in Phoenix, AZ, with a keynote address from the Attorney General of California, the Honorable Kamala D. Harris. In its fourth year, the event, hosted by RILA and the RLC, brings together the legal leadership from across the retail industry to address the constantly shifting landscape.
A career prosecutor, Ms. Harris shared her vision of her role as the chief law enforcement officer for the state and chief lawyer for the people of California, while addressing legal issues on the horizon both in California and across the country.
“The general counsel of the retail industry and their teams face a broad array of ever-shifting issues on a daily basis,”
General Counsel of the Phoenix Coyotes
said Deborah White, executive vice president and legal counsel for RILA, and president of the RLC. “The Retail Law Conference gives the retail legal community an opportunity to hear from the leading experts in key areas and to discuss with their peers the best strategies for navigating challenges from corporate governance to new technologies, and aggressive agency enforcement to plaintiff’s litigation."
The first day concluded with a presentation from Craig Tindall, General Counsel of the Phoenix Coyotes, the NHL franchise that calls Phoenix home. Mr. Tindall provided the audience insight into the day to day challenges associated with being general counsel for a professional sports franchise.
The second day featured a full slate of educational sessions focused on a wide range of issues important to the legal leadership of the retail industry.
Lawyers from the firm Hunton & Williams opened the conference with an extended session on the challenges associated with activist shareholders. The panelists discussed emerging trends and underlying causes, while offering strategies for successfully balancing shareholder requests and long-term corporate strategies.
“The retail industry remains committed to understanding and addressing the full spectrum of today’s legal issues.” said Deborah White, executive vice president and legal counsel for RILA, and president of the RLC. “To that end the Retail Law Conference serves an immensely important function for the industry, acting as a forum for executives where they can educate themselves about emerging trends and discuss successful strategies and best practices.”
Breakout sessions during the day addressed a multitude of issues legal counsel for the retail industry can expect to face, such as data privacy issues that stem from emerging technologies; strategies for defending EEOC enforcement actions; insurance solutions for wage and hour litigation; implementing the new healthcare regulations; federal regulations concerning consumer products in forward and reverse distribution channels; and the latest pronouncements from the National Labor Relations Board on issues, such as micro-unions.
John Dean, former White House Counsel to President Richard Nixon, and Jim Robenalt, an attorney from Thompson Hine LLP, closed out day two of the 2014 Retail Law Conference, delivering a keynote address on legal ethics. Throughout the two hour session, Mr. Dean and Mr. Robenalt walked attendees through the events of Watergate and the legal decision making during the time, comparing those decisions to today’s legal rules.
The final day of the conference began with a first for the Retail Law Conference, as general counsel from The Home Depot, Walgreen Co. and Staples Inc. joined together to discuss their perspectives on the practice of law in the retail industry today. Due to its success, the panel is slated to become a yearly tradition to give the full retail community an opportunity to hear from key leaders.
The morning continued with another staple of the Retail Law Conference, Retail-Only Conversations. These small-group discussions, facilitated by top-level retail industry corporate counsel, are for in-house counsel only and provide an opportunity for colleagues to discuss challenges and solutions related to the discussion topics. This year the Retail-Only Conversations focused on privacy, general liability and employment law.
The day concluded with a returning guest. Tom Goldstein, publisher of the widely-followed SCOTUSblog addressed attendees again this year, offering his insights to what can be expected from the 2013 term of the Supreme Court and analyzing decisions from the previous term and focused on how the retail industry can expect to be affected.
“The conference serves to better educate the legal minds of the retail industry on the issues critical to the continued success of the retail industry. RILA and the RLC take great pride in putting together a forum for education, benchmarking and strategic development,” said Deborah White, executive vice president and general counsel for RILA, and president of the RLC. “As the fourth conference comes to a close, it is important to reflect on the progress that has been made this week, to look forward to future endeavors and remain focused on advancing the interests of retail, particularly through the efforts of the RLC.”
The fifth annual Retail Law Conference will be held October 15-17, 2014 in Charlotte, NC.