Business of Law
Meet Art Block, General Counsel of Comcast
Posted Jan 4, 2010 12:44 PM CDT
By Martha Neil
When Art Block gave up a partnership at Wolf Block Schorr & Solis-Cohen in 1988 to become the No. 2 attorney in a three-person corporate legal department, his friends told him he was crazy.
But today the 54-year-old University of Michigan law graduate is general counsel in charge of a 75-lawyer in-house shop at the same Philadelphia-based company, Comcast Corp. And the department—and its $75 million to $100 million annual budget—will almost undoubtedly grow further once Comcast completes its planned acquisition of a controlling interest in NBC Universal Inc., reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Part of Block's job is overseeing the work done by the approximately 25 law firms that regularly work for Comcast. Although the company has OK'd a 2.5 percent increase in hourly legal fees this year, after freezing its legal spending in 2009, it is still aggressively focusing on controlling costs and interested in exploring "creative" approaches to do so, he tells the newspaper.
"The objective is to get a sense that the law firm is managing its own business more efficiently for our mutual benefit so they have some skin in the game," he says. "We are not looking to be punitive; we are looking to be more businesslike."