Thursday, 10 June 2010

The Essential Tool-Kit for the In-House Lawyer

Throughout my experience as an in-house lawyer, I've had a requirement for the following 3 items over and above all else:

  1. A magic wand (to right wrongs and generally make things not the way they actually are)
  2. A crystal ball (to predict the future of course)
  3. A healthy stash of contracts that stretch to 2 sides of paper only (I don't know why, but when it comes to contracts, non-lawyers require them to be on 2 sides of paper only.  Its a mystical quality which seems to keep everyone warm, comfortable and happy about any situation with a potential legal repercussion. I'm happy to oblige.)

Today on Twitter, I decided to ask my fellow tweeting in-house lawyers what they considered to be the essential items they needed to get through a day in the life of an in-house lawyer.  I concurred with all of their replies, and  so I'm now pleased to reveal the Official Essential Tool-Kit for the In-House Lawyer:
  1. The three items mentioned above
  2. A time machine (presumably for situations where the magic wand and crystal ball fail to function as required)
  3. A pair of reality glasses to loan out to people as and when needed (so in reality, a huge stash of reality glasses)
  4. A "10 minute" gun to shoot someone and they die for 10 minutes (I'm thinking @gamingcounsel was having a particularly bad day when he suggested this item, and I'm sure he doesn't really mean to shoot any of his co-workers)
  5. An effigy of a sales manager to stick pins in (heck, we in-house lawyers are displaying a fair bit of pent up rage aren't we?  Although I could write several blog posts on the...hmmmm....challenges which arise between in-house legal and sales.  Yes we're all on the same "company team" but essentially our functions are diametrically opposed and always will be)
  6. Two large red stamps (a) APPROVED and (b) DENIED (interesting this one, anything I "deny" tends to land on my desk the next day in disguise if I'm lucky, if I'm unlucky, "denied" activities tend to happen anyway under the cover of darkness)
  7. A repeat button (must be hard wearing)

There were some behavioural and physical traits which were suggested as essential also:
  1. The patience of a saint
  2. A sense of humour
  3. Open eyes and ears (I took this to mean alertness.  Pro-plus and caffeine can assist with this)
  4. 2 feet and 2 hands (although it did strike me that if we were going to get this particular about the tool-kit, an extra pair of hands and feet and some "go faster" stripes are most definitely required)

Some of the more sensible suggestions also hit a chord, and there was a consistent message that in-house lawyers need:
  1. A quiet office (a haven, particularly for the in-house lawyer in an open-plan space shared primarily with non-lawyers who don't always share the same requirement for quiet review of papers or the keeping of matters confidential)
  2. A decent PC and a full complement of software and internet access
  3. Twitter!
  4. The internet (an absolute essential for lawyers operating without access to the informational resource of a traditional law firm library and professional support lawyer team)
  5. An accurate, complete and up to date contracts register recording all commercial agreements in the company (plus a paralegal to help run it)
  6. Trained co-workers with access to self-help guidance (working on the theory that a stitch in time saves nine)
  7. Black's Law Dictionary (I don't know what this is but mention of it it caused quite a stir amongst tweeters on the other side of the Atlantic)

Interestingly, no in-house lawyer mentioned either of the following:
  1. External counsel
  2. iPads (the one teccy item which is generating a huge amount of road-testing, blogging and commenting on by tech-savvy lawyers the world over at the moment)
Thank you to all of my fellow tweeting lawyers who took the time to share their thoughts with me today on this subject: @richard_russeth @philcylaw @jcasalmir @gamingcounsel @jamesbarnesesq @legalbizzle @jds @TM_Association @AlexandraHa @TMT_Lawyer

I'd love to hear from you if you have any experiences with items in the Essential Tool-Kit listed above or any other items to add to it.

No comments:

Post a Comment