The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Jim Middlemiss

Corporate counsel

The Crossroads of law and public relations

By Jim Middlemiss December 22, 2015 22 December 2015

The Crossroads of law and public relations

When Mirko Bibic left private practice to join Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE) as a regulatory lawyer, little did he know that one day he would be playing a key role in the government and public relations efforts of his company.

During his 10-year rise to Chief Legal and Regulatory Officer, and Executive Vice-President of Corporate Development, Bibic acted as spokesperson at times, and became the corporation's public face at the Canadian Radio-Television Commission (CRTC), BCE's primary regulator. As part of the deal-making team, he would often be dragged into media and investor relations issues. Now, his responsibilities include both legal and government affairs.

Reputation risk driving change

Bibic says one of the biggest changes he has seen in corporate boardrooms since joining BCE is the attention being paid to risk. “Ultimately, it comes down to reputation risk and brand risk.”

It’s forcing chief legal officers and their corporate law departments to garner a better understanding of things like media, public relations and government affairs.

A decade ago, he says, reporting on regulatory matters at the CRTC was “fairly esoteric,” and if there was mainstream media coverage of an issue, it played out over time. However, with the rise of a 24-hour media cycle, and an increase in media outlets and instantaneous coverage, it has changed the way companies must manage their corporate reputation. Something that might not have garnered traction a decade ago can go viral on the Internet in a matter of minutes.

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Corporate counsel

Practising preventive litigation

By Jim Middlemiss October 21, 2015 21 October 2015

Practising preventive litigation

When Adrian Lang left the comfortable confines of a Bay Street law firm to pursue an in-house litigation job at the Bank of Montreal slightly more than two years ago, she quickly concluded that lawsuits were the bane of the bank’s existence.

“You don’t want to be in litigation with your customer,” says Lang, Associate General Counsel at BMO. “That’s not a happy place for anybody.”

So Lang’s attention turned from litigation pursuit to litigation prevention: “The real value is making sure litigation doesn’t come up in the first place.”

She implemented a number of changes at the bank to rein in litigation costs and help nip cases in the bud before they become a bigger litigation headache.

“What we quickly realized is that when cases get to court or in the court system, they will languish for long periods. That’s not where we want to be,” says the affable Lang. “We don’t want it to be a difficult process. We want to make it more streamlined and get to a resolution more quickly.”

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Article

Closing the ballot box

By Jim Middlemiss November 20, 2014 20 November 2014

Closing the ballot box

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Article

Separating the roles

By Jim Middlemiss July 18, 2014 18 July 2014

Separating the roles

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