This may explain many things about my personality but I have always gone to work feeling like I could get fired any day and at any time. I am not sure why that is the case (and I am not particularly interested in lying on a couch and talking it out). I just accept that it’s how I am. The fear of getting fired has always driven me to find ways to not get fired. Ultimately, I settled on always trying to be the most valuable member of any legal team I was part of. I figured that the last person to get fired (short of bringing a handgun to the office and taking some potshots at the boss) is the most valuable person on the team, i.e., the “indispensable” MVP. And that mentality generally served me well over the past 30 years or so (though there is a fine line between making yourself valuable and being a sap – and Mrs. Ten Things thinks I may have drifted over the line on occasion). As I look around this never-ending pandemic, Covid-y world, I can imagine that many in-house lawyers may be feeling the same type of anxiety, especially if your company is not exactly thriving in the current economic climate. But, even if that is not the case, I have spent a good part of the past six months or so writing about how legal departments can show their value to the organization. How individual members of the department can do the same is a natural extension of that theme and a worthy goal. This edition of “Ten Things” sets out some ways you can work to make yourself “indispensable” to the legal team and the company:
I was recently interviewed by Mel Scott for her awesome the “Counsel” podcast. I had a lot of fun talking with her and we chatted a good bit offline before she hit “record.” Part of that discussion was about how the Ten Things blog got started. If you bought the first Ten Things book, you know the story from the introduction section. If you haven’t gotten around to shelling out your hard-earned dough (or better yet, expensing it to the company), the short story is that I was speaking at a legal event in late 2014 and afterward some young in-house lawyers came up to me and started asking me questions about things they should be doing to advance their careers. Never being one to shy away from handing out some pearls of wisdom, I mentioned several things that came to mind. All of which they proceeded to write down. Hmmm, I thought. If anyone should be writing this stuff down, it should be me! And that, my friends, is how it all started. What I don’t talk as much about is that many of the posts come from presentations I made to my various in-house teams, at off-sites, team meetings, small groups, etc. If there was a projector or a whiteboard, it was time to break things down!
Last week I was cleaning out a bunch of old files on my computer (because that’s how I roll). I had the television on in the background and one of my favorite movies was playing, Zombieland. If you have never seen it, please correct that oversight at your first opportunity. If you have seen it, you know that Jesse Eisenberg’s character, “Columbus,” has a list of rules that he relies on to survive the post-apocalyptic wasteland that is Zombieland. The rules are all tried and true common sense things that will help keep you safe. Just as Columbus was discussing the merits of “cardio” and the “double-tap,” I came across a document in my files from 2012 – my rules for surviving as an in-house lawyer. Wow! Coincidence? Fate? Divine inspiration? I’m not sure. But, it doesn’t matter – I had found my next blog post! I remember writing these “Rules” down one night and presenting them to my team at an off-site and looking through them brought back a lot of great memories of all of those fantastic people who I miss every day (some of whom even read this blog on occasion). Moreover, as I read through the rules I realized a) they are still 100% valid, b) you can see a lot of what became Ten Things posts in these rules, and c) if there is a zombie attack, these are pretty worthless (except maybe for “eat lunch” – if you’re a zombie).
Regardless, this edition of Ten Things will be a little different. I am simply going to republish my rules as written. No embellishment, no snarky commentary, no cut off at “10.” Just a list of rules all in-house counsel can take to heart to survive the apocalyptic wasteland that is the Covid-ridden, murder-hornet-ed, wildfired, election year hell we call 2020. Ready? Here we go: (more…)