I'm working on a project with my publishers John Wiley & Sons, Inc. that will be released sometime in 2010. No, I am not writing a new book, but it is too early to talk about what I'm cooking up just yet. When we're ready to announce, this blog will be the first place that I spread the word.
I need your permission
Anyway, I'm interviewing people around the world about their marketing successes and will be using some select quotes in material that will eventually be published in book form. The Wiley legal department requires a release to be signed in order for people to appear in the book. A signed release like this is very common.
People are very excited to have their work profiled in a book and everyone agrees to sign the release. But some people must kick the simple one-page document "upstairs to legal for signoff."
Legal signoff - Oh no! The dreaded words!
In my experience, when the lawyers get involved, the wheels of commerce often slow down to a crawl or sometimes even stop spinning. It is appalling. Now I'm not saying all legal people are a bad bunch. Hey, I have had some great experiences with lawyers. And some of my friends are lawyers. However, in my experience with a simple request like this, more times than not things slow things down to a snails pace.
One person said, and I quote: "I need to send this to the business prevention department." OMG – can you imagine calling your legal department the business prevention department? It must really be terrible to work there!
Another person kept assuring me the "legal is looking at it." For a month! We're talking about a one-page document that simply gives my publisher the right to print some quotes in a book. I finally got the signed form back after something like 45 days.
Another legal department sat on the form for weeks and weeks and finally the person I interviewed came back to me and sheepishly said: "I need to pass on this opportunity. Legal said no." UGH. All I want to do is quote you in a book. Hours of work on both of our parts down the drain.
It's not all bad
Today I received a signed form back in less than 24 hours. That's amazing because I am in Boston and the person I was sending the form to is based in Hong Kong (our business hours don't overlap). The legal guy looked it over and in a moment said: "Looks good to me."
Shouldn't all legal departments be that fast?
Does your legal department work for you? Or do you work for them?
For more reading about the legal eagles, please check out this post
When lawyers get in the way of PR
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