Renato Pontello

Renato Pontello

Renato Pontello is legal counsel to Solantro Semiconductor Corp,.  He was formerly vice-president legal, general counsel and corporate secretary to Zarlink Semiconductor Inc. He can be reached at


Column: Practising In-house

Monday, 16 January 2017 09:00

Navigating medical leaves for executives

Navigating medical leaves for executivesAs pressure builds for companies to post strong results in the face of mounting competition, executives often find themselves exhausted, frustrated, strung out — or worse — and in need of rest and/or medical attention. Medical leaves of absence raise a number of legal concerns affecting executives that in-house counsel should be aware of.
Balancing the need to specialize against covering the basesOne of the prime challenges faced by in-house counsel is balancing the increasing specialization of law with the need to continue to cover the bases in a general way. 
Direct and indirect sales

Distribution agreements help with product liability claimsTypically businesses either choose to sell their products directly to customers or indirectly through distributors.

The critical difference between the two channels is that in the former, the business enters into a sales contract directly with its own customer. In the latter, the supplier sells the product to the distributor and the distributor in turn enters into its own sales contract with the end customer. There is no privity of contract between the supplier and the distributor’s end customer, so we know that the end customer must rely on a tort remedy to get at the business for a product liability claim.
Pulling off successful meetings in your in-house law departmentOne of the most painful yet underestimated problems of modern business is bad meetings. If not properly structured, meetings can be demotivating, alienating and unproductive.    
Anti-bribery legislation and the role of general counselReporting on recent cases in Canada involving the levying of significant fines and debarment of companies demonstrated to have participated in the bribing of foreign public officials has highlighted the need for general counsel to play a central role as far as prevention goes. This usually entails obtaining management and board buy-in, drafting appropriate anti-corruption policies, awareness and training and ongoing monitoring and reporting. 
General counsel should be more involved in board member selectionWhile a general counsel spends most of his or her time providing legal support directly to the senior management team and the board, ultimately, the client is the corporation. 
Strategies for managing a global legal departmentGlobal legal departments are challenged by diversity, not only of the individuals who make up the organization but also internal clients, external suppliers, customers, strategic partners, and stakeholders, as well as diversity in the various legal and regulatory regimes and business cultures within which they operate.
Post-Panama Papers, how should in-house react?On May 9, a further trove of confidential information from the files of the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca & Co. was released to the web by the hacker(s) who penetrated the firm’s e-mail system. As we all know, the firm’s clients were largely nominees or intermediaries: banks, financial administrators, accountants, etc., who carried out their clients’ bidding via the formation of “shell companies” in foreign tax havens. The creation of the companies and use of intermediaries created an expectation of anonymity. That anonymity was however shattered with the publication of the Panama Papers. They contain the names of the intermediaries, the ultimate beneficiaries, related correspondence and contracts and, most importantly in the case of corporations, the identity of shareholders and directors. 
The challenges and conflicts of farming out legal workA key role of in-house legal counsel is to decide when, why, and where to farm out legal work. At times, the appropriate and most efficient thing to do is to retain the work in-house. In other instances, necessity dictates it be referred out; however, the selection of external legal advisors can be fraught with conflict.
Monday, 08 February 2016 09:48

Big Data’s potential for in-house

Big Data’s potential for in-houseBig Data is here and it is here to stay. Retailers collect and analyze billions of customer purchases every hour, looking for buying trends to better target their marketing efforts. Credit card companies constantly analyze incoming transactions searching for indicators of fraud. Social media platforms curate, store, analyze, and sell data that is invaluable to advertisers. As WikiLeaks has demonstrated, governments scour, record, and analyze massive amounts of information daily, including data mined from their closest allies.
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