Building relationships and trust with others in the company — outside the context of providing legal services — can make a big difference in one’s effectiveness when attention turns to more challenging issues.
In good times and bad, we accept that self-care is inherently a matter of personal responsibility. So, why deny ourselves opportunities for self-care solely because some of the benefits might also inure to the company we work for?
If we expect our colleagues in the companies we serve to be able to apply and fulfill the agreements we prepare for them, if we expect our employees to follow the policies and guidance we issue, we must use language that speaks to its intended audience.
We can consider how we in “legal” are often perceived and how that influences others who seek to (or must) engage us. Then we can consciously decide, somewhere between stimulus and response, to ensure that the perception-feedback loop doesn’t spoil the intended communication.
If you see the potential for unwanted consequences, ask the questions that will help you gain perspective and improve your ability to respond, not the sort that will come across as advice in camouflage.
Can you see the application to those times when someone seeks your counsel on an issue? Those times are when it becomes clear they’re hoping you can find a technicality that will permit them to continue on their dangerous course.
I’ve developed the habit of consistent use of my to-do list. My approach is inspired by David Allen’s Getting Things Done and the notion that holding any to-dos in one’s head when they can be offloaded to a trusted system imposes a needless drag on one’s thinking and efforts.
Atop the list of things I was most grateful for was the time given to me by so many people who had gone, or were still going, through this ordeal. I learned so much from their stories, was inspired by the invariably happy outcomes they achieved, comforted to know I wasn’t alone, and grateful to be able to reciprocate the support.
This is my last column about my recent job transition. I’ve learned a lot from the experience, as you may have gathered from previous columns. Sooner or later, most of us will change jobs but this page is for Small Law voices, not Career Development voices.
Prior to law school, I worked as a server in a restaurant. I’ve often said that my experiences back then were particularly valuable in forming my worldview; their relevance certainly rushed back to the fore when I began in-house practice in a department of one.
I saw the connections and the lessons about our responsibility as in-house counsel to give time and attention to preparing for tough times not immediately before us, despite the deluge of urgent matters that we regularly face
The fish-to-pond ratio in a small law department shows your colleagues that having an in-house lawyer makes life easier. Targeting this low-hanging fruit can be a simple and satisfying way to demonstrate that you’re not always adding complexity. A great place to start is email disclaimers.
Getting back in touch with the student experience in this way has helped to re-illuminate the early portion of my professional journey and, in turn, has helped me shed a little light on the path of those just starting out.