Well, it’s time for the last “Ten Things” blog of 2019. It’s been a pretty good year for the blog: it passed five years of “bloggership” and is approaching 4,000 subscribers, it was named one of the Top Thirty Legal Blogs by SimplyLegal, the post on “How to Read a Contract” was the most popular article of 2019 on InCounsel Weekly, and the ABA published the second “Ten Things” book. It will be hard to top 2019. I know I have said it many times but it bears repeating, I am eternally grateful to everyone who takes time to read the blogs, to pass them along to colleagues and friends, to re-post them on LinkedIn or Twitter, or – most importantly – takes the time to comment or drop me a note. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
As usual, I will end the year with my list of the ten best blogs for in-house lawyers. And, as usual, I will not repeat any of the blogs I picked for 2015, 2016, 2017, or 2018. But, I highly recommend that you take a minute to refresh yourself with these past “winners” as they are all still worthy of your time. The good news is that there is a vast universe of blogs out there. I read a lot of them and over the course of the year I file some away as particularly noteworthy, especially for anyone who practices as an in-house lawyer. A good blog can be a lifesaver when you need to get up to speed on something quickly and you do not have the time or money to hire outside counsel or access expensive legal resources. Without further ado, here is my 2019 list of the top ten blogs for in-house lawyers:
As we come to the end of 2019, I wanted to write about an issue I hear a lot about. In fact, in many of my conversations with in-house counsel, this is the number one topic, i.e., “how do I become a strategic in-house lawyer?” While sometimes this is a self-generated concern, it arises mostly because someone (the CEO, the General Counsel, or whomever) told the lawyer during an annual review or another setting that they need to be more “strategic” with their thinking. Sadly, that is typically about the extent of it, that is, “be more strategic. Now go forth and sin no more.” From personal experience, I can tell you that receiving such a command from your boss without more is about as useful as a mud fence in a rainstorm. But, as many in-house lawyers are learning, it is not enough to be an excellent lawyer with deep legal skills and institutional knowledge. That just gets you to the table. The business wants more out of its in-house legal department, especially from the general counsel and other senior members of the legal team. They want you to be “part of the business” and they want you to be “strategic.” Unfortunately, no one teaches you how to be strategic in law school – at least not when I was there. For most, you just sort of figure it out as you go along. That was my method. I cannot tell you that I figured out the magical incantation that makes you a strategic thinker, but I have learned many relevant lessons over the years. This edition of “Ten Things” shares my thoughts on how to become a strategic in-house lawyer: