IF YOU GO TO OUR WEBSI TE, THERE’S A LINK THA T WILL TAKE
you to our press kit. Inside that online kit, there’s our
editorial calendar for the magazine. It alerts us and our
advertisers about what features we do throughout the
year. There are a lot of stalwarts—mainly our surveys,
such as GC Compensation (look for it next month) and
Who Represents America’s Biggest Companies (you’ll
have to wait until mid-September online for that one).
And if it’s July, it’s time for “business litigation.”
We like that one for a couple of reasons. It’s open-
ended. In our wondrously litigious society, people and
companies and governments sue everyone over nearly
everything. And for a legal audience, litigation is red
meat. If you’re lucky, you can combine a good yarn with
colorful personalities and a lesson or two.
This time we look at an industry under attack, and
superficially, it’s about something pretty superficial:
tanning—specifically, indoor tanning. That conjures
up stereotypes of California surfer dudes, a presidential candidate, a former speaker of the House, the beach
and probably the entire cast of the old MTV Series “
Jersey Shore.” (I’ll cop to watching it. I live in the same
New York City borough that contributed most of that
trashy show’s cast, and one of my daughters was a college classmate of one of the guys—Vinnie, if you
But let’s get serious. The cover story
by Stephanie Forshee shows a perfect
storm: an industry under attack; a general counsel fighting an uphill battle;
health claims promoting tanning; and
a federal agency that’s gone on a crusade against those health claims—not
to mention publicity-seek-ing state attorneys general. And underlying
all of this is a core issue
for Corporate Counsel
readers: Are in-house
lawyers defenders or
facilitators for their
Being a good lawyer means being a strenuous advocate for the client—even if the lawyer doesn’t necessarily agree with the client’s actions. I recall the story
of one East Coast general counsel who had to defend
his company’s environmental policies, which involved
the emission of toxic substances into public waterways,
though he was a liberal environmentalist who probably
sympathized with the opposition. It happens.
In the cover piece, there’s the complicated situation
of Chris Sternberg, the general counsel of Sun Tan City.
I don’t know what his personal convictions are regarding people climbing atop tanning beds to get that glow
that photographs so well on prom night. But it’s got
to be hard being him. The Federal Trade Commission
looks askance at the industry’s attempts to say that
indoor tanning is healthy (hey, it combats Vitamin D
deficiency!). Pressure groups are likening their battle
against his industry to earlier battles against smoking,
and the groups contend that his company and others
like his are giving people skin cancer.
And Sternberg is unusual in having his job to begin
with. Much of the industry consists of small operations,
companies too small to have the benefit of an in-house
legal team. Or even a sole GC. The whole litigation situation, the regulatory controversies and Sternberg’s own
between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place job pretty much captures, in concentrated form, the regulatory and litigation challenges facing the in-house bar. We’ll be looking
more closely at these thorny situations as we expand
our coverage, and we hope you all go along for the ride.
In the meantime, I’m on deadline for this magazine. I
might get out for a bit and take a walk around the block.
I haven’t been getting enough sun lately.
A RAY OF SUNSHINE