Month: April 2020

Ten Things: Ten (Non-Legal) Books All In-House Lawyers Should Read

I have been looking back at the last four or five blog posts (e.g., strategic lawyer, showing value, dealing with a pandemic) and see that they are all pretty long.  Really, really long.  It’s as if someone dug up Grantland Rice, dumped him on the ground, and gave him a laptop.[1]  I think we all deserve a break.  So, this week I am going to cut things back a bit and write about a question I have gotten from several readers, i.e., “what books do you recommend I read if I want to be a successful in-house lawyer?”  I have already written about ten things in-house lawyers should read every day,[2] but I haven’t really taken on the task of recommending books other than sporadically throughout various blog posts (like in my last “Ten Things” post on electronic signatures).  I’ll start by telling you that there is a boatload of legal books you can read, including two I have written (with a third on the way in 2021).  I’ll also tell you that reading legal-related books is okay but if you’re limiting yourself to that genre, then you are really missing out.  Not missing out on legal issues; that’s something you should stay on top of to remain sharp on the law.  Rather, you’re missing out on books that can make you a better overall in-house lawyer, i.e., one that acts and thinks strategically and one that becomes a valued advisor and not just a legal order taker – the legal department equivalent of manning the drive-through lane at McDonald’s.  And, given most of us are still working from home sitting out the COVID-19 virus, you may have a little more time on your hands to read something other than work emails and law firm client alerts.

I decided to make this easy on myself and I am literally looking around my home office at the books on the shelves, staring at me, quieting murmuring “read me again, dummy.”  Which means either I’m am losing my mind sheltering-in-place or my bookcases are haunted.  Not sure which is better.  Regardless, there are a number of books that have helped me become a better in-house lawyer.  I think you would find anyone of them helpful.  This edition of “Ten Things” picks out ten non-legal books that all in-house lawyers should read:



Ten Things: Electronic Signatures (What In-House Counsel Need to Know)

[Since the last “Ten Things” post there are now over 4,000 followers of this blog.  Thank you!!]

Welcome to day 987 of “Shelter-in-Place.”  Brought to you by our good friends at COVID-19 – courtesy of unprepared governments everywhere!  Okay, that’s a little snarky and it’s really only day 17 or so for me (but it sure feels like 987 days).  Like most of you reading this, I have been working from home, practicing social distancing, binging television shows, and reading a lot.  On that last one, more like devouring books and whatever other reading materials I can get my hands on.  In fact, I just finished an amazing two-part series by Dan Jones on English kings: “The Plantagenets” and “The Wars of the Roses.”  I highly recommend both to the history buffs out there.  One thing that stuck in my mind as I was reading these books was the use of seals by kings to “sign” documents (well, parchments actually).  For some reason, that got me thinking about how we sign documents today, especially contracts – the lifeblood of any company and the top priority of the in-house legal department.  That, in turn, got me thinking about all the different ways I have managed contract signings over the course of my in-house career, including the use of electronic signatures (yes, that is how my mind works).  Which made me start to wonder “how in the hell is an electronic signature valid… and have I been screwing this up for years?”  Intuitively, I know they are valid but I have to say I never spent a lot of time thinking about “how” or “why.”  The current pandemic crisis with its discouraged human interaction are the perfect launching pad for thinking about “signing” documents remotely and e-signatures are the perfect solution for that.  This edition of “Ten Things” walks you through what you need to know about electronic signatures: