I do a lot of speaking with and presenting to in-house lawyers and legal departments. It’s something I really enjoy doing because I get to share my “wisdom” with everyone (which is just a fancy word for “oldness”). By this I mean I have been around a while and have spent most of my working years as an in-house lawyer. And, like anyone who has completed the solar elliptical as many times as I have, I’ve dealt with a lot of different things as an in-house lawyer – some good, some bad, and some still defying categorization years later. On the bad side of the continuum, I was there for the first internet tech bubble (and the second), along with the mortgage meltdown crisis. I was in the travel business right after 9-11. I have been through natural disasters, multiple layoffs, budget cuts, reorganizations, mergers, acquisitions, sales, going private, going public, and all the rest of it. I oversaw bet the company litigation, where literally the livelihoods of 10,000+ employees depended on my team not losing a piece of litigation. And most terrifying, I had a front-row seat for the incredibly shitty ending to Game of Thrones. That is a season of television I can never get back. Damn you, HBO. Damn you to hell! Sorry, I got off on a rant there. Allow me to (cough) refocus.
So, here we are again. Things feel shaky with the economy and there is a good bit of unease out there in the business world and, therefore, in the in-house legal departments that serve those businesses. I wrote about some of it last month in my post on things to watch out for in 2023. But even more so, over the past few months, I have been consistently asked to talk about/present on how in-house lawyers can succeed in an environment of change and uncertainty. So much so that a couple of nights ago (as I was NOT watching HBO), I started putting some real thought into the question and realized that I have a lot to say about it (shock!). So, this edition of “Ten Things” will discuss some of the things in-house lawyers (and legal departments) can do to survive and thrive in times of change and uncertainty: