Eleven years ago, after AZA co-founder Joe Ahmad turned his practice to representing executives, he noticed that even these high-paid folks had a lot of misconceptions about the law. He decided to do something about it.
He started his blog Legal Issues in the Executive Suite. He shares his knowledge about issues like clawback provisions, compensation, fiduciary duties, non-competes, severance packages, trade secrets and whistleblowers. He frequently gives his opinions of proper executive behavior riffing off current events like the recent remarkable error of a southwest Florida CEO who, with Hurricane Ian approaching, told employees to ignore evacuation orders and go to work (See CEO Leadership in the Eye of the Storm).
“I saw my executive clients making the same mistakes over and over and having the same wrong ideas about the law whether they came from rumor mills or what they gathered from the media,” Joe said. “I saw a need and an opportunity to educate.”
He said a lot of executive issues arise during transitions, either because these execs missed the fine print when coming aboard or forgot the fine print when exiting.
“I thought it would be helpful to explain the law having heard frequently about misperceived rights and ignored promises and guarantees,” he said.
He said executives are in a complex legal world. They are representatives of their company and its management, as well as individuals with interests that can conflict with those of their employers. His 11-year-old blog is dedicated to examining those complexities and providing readers with regular updates on litigation, legislation and current events that have an impact on their lives.
“I was a little surprised that the executives’ knowledge of the law was often not much better than the employees I used to represent. Most of the CEOs and other executives who come to me would benefit from going to a lawyer before they make a move rather than after they receive a nasty letter from a lawyer or a lawsuit,” Joe said.
He often draws examples from the sports world. See Can CEO’s learn something from Dolphins owner Stephen Ross’s problems with the NFL? and Former Astros GM Demands Trial Over his Sign-Stealing Termination, but Quiet Arbitration Settlement May be Unavoidable.
His blog updates are also posted on Joe’s LinkedIn page where they have sometimes garnered national attention. LinkedIn editors have asked to sponsor and boost some of his posts. He said he gets a lot of feedback, but it often comes when readers can take his post as something political, he did not intend.
“I want the blog to be helpful, in a kind of executive Dear Abby kind of way,” he said.