The Mentorist


In-House Lowdown: Still a Lawyer, but the Game Has Changed

‘In-House Lowdown’ is a series of blog posts designed to help lawyers navigate the in-house world. Its observations are based on my 20+ years as a General Counsel, spent managing legal teams and herding assorted breeds of corporate cats.

Law firm life got you miserable?  Plan on moving in-house to elevate your mood?

That might be the perfect remedy.  Or it might bring you equal levels of misery (just in new and different ways).  You’ll have a better shot at predicting the likely outcome if — before making your move — you understand the fundamental differences between in-house life and private practice.

To be good at their jobs, in-house lawyers need to develop a new set of muscles:  Some of the skills and behaviors that have earned them rich rewards in their law firm are going to be irrelevant –- or even destructive –- inside a company’s legal team. Continue reading

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Talk a Mile in My Shoes: Overcoming Conflict with Your Boss (or, Really, Anyone)

I like to hire strong-headed people.  They’ve got minds of their own — and have no problem telling me when they think I’ve lost mine.  (Imagine teenagers, but with highly developed executive functions….)

Most of the time, this approach works wonders:  I feel challenged, they feel respected and the entire team produces results we couldn’t have otherwise.

But with strong wills come occasional strong impasses.  I’m thinking, in particular, of a time when one of my trusted ‘lieutenants’ handled a work travel situation in a way that — although quasi-legitimate — served his personal interest a bit too much, while making it harder for me, as team leader, to meet the budget numbers I had signed up for.

I was not amused. Continue reading


May We Have a Little Mood Lighting Here? What to Do When the Salary Question Comes Too Soon

‘Hiring someone is essentially a romantic process, in which the job interview functions as a desexualized version of a date’ –- or so Malcolm Gladwell wrote, not that long ago.

Ah, I remember those days.  First interviews — while, on the surface, spent discussing the interviewee’s qualifications for the job at hand -– were about figuring out whether the ‘chemistry’ was right.  The other ‘c’ word –- ‘compensation’ –- never came up.

No more.  Today it’s typical for job candidates to be asked upfront, ‘What salary do you expect to make?’

Good-bye, first date.  Hello, arranged marriage. Continue reading