Thursday, October 11, 2012


I'm always looking for ways to improve - as a wife, a mother, a lawyer and even as a blogger.  In this last endeavor, one way I look for improvement is to see how people find me.  It's a very interesting and sometimes humorous exercise to go through the keywords that lead people to the blog.  Many times, its from a question.  So in hopes of helping these lost souls, I thought I'd address some of the keyword searches that lead people to this blog.

1.  Do you really need a social media policy?
        Yes.  If you have employees and they have access to technology then you need a social media policy.  See the original post here.

2.  How to get an in house counsel job without connections?
    Network, network, network.  You can keep current on the posted openings and get to know recruiters who work in the industry.  But the fact remains that the majority of in house jobs are filled through networking.  Need advice on networking, check out these posts: Networking Part 1; Networking part 2.

3.  Managing outside counsel...
    Managing outside counsel can be challenging, frustrating and at times hugely rewarding.  You must walk the line between looking out for the business side of things (i.e. staying on budget, managing expectations, etc.) and being an effective advocate for your client.  Often these objectives are at odds with each other and your outside counsel will almost always come down on the advocacy side regardless of the cost.  You have to actively manage them to ensure that you get the value your company needs.  At the same time, I have learned so much from outside counsel.  I usually only hire counsel for matters that I am not qualified to handle in house.  As a result, in the course of the representation I learn a lot about new areas of law and procedure.  For a more in depth view on managing counsel, go back to this July post.

4.  Can practicing law be fun?
  Absolutely.  And it can be miserable too.  Totally depends on your personality, and your employer.  Some lawyers are the firm type and would hate being in house.  Others, like me, are definitely in house lawyers from birth and would hate doing anything else.  I've found that a large part of the 'fun' in practicing comes from working for an employer in an industry that I find 'fun'.  It makes the tedium of reviewing yet another service agreement a little less boring.  I love start up(ish) tech companies.  For ten reasons why, check out this very popular post.

5.  He have to promote diversity (sic)
  I'm not sure where this reader was coming from, but the short answer is, "No, he doesn't".  There's a difference between being discriminatory and promoting diversity.  While I fully advocate promoting diversity (see posts here, here and here), it's a should do not a must do.

6.  How should inhouse solicitor sign off a letter?
  Simply, and with your title.  I typically sign off with Best Regards, Tanya Avila, Associate General Counsel.

7.  I went to the house of the jackass and I learn...
  I'd love to know the follow up to what this person learned.  I've learned quite a bit from jackasses over the years.  One of this blog's most popular posts is dedicated to that concept.  It's also my personal motto that I have made a mission to impart to my sons (and as many other people who will listen to me...)

8.  In house boring lawyer
  Guilty as charged.  In house lawyers are typically boring to non-in house lawyers.  It's not completely our fault.  We work long hours for a single client and professional ethics and rules prohibit us from being able to talk openly about much of it.  So, as a result we make very boring dinner guests.

9.  In house vacation time
  I assume this reader was looking for a range of what kind of vacation an in house lawyer can expect.  Unfortunately, you won't find this on the internet.  The main reason is that it varies from company to company.  For the most part, you get the same vacation allotment that everyone else in the company gets.  So if the company policy is 2 weeks, you get 2 weeks annually.  Other companies have more generous policies of 4 weeks.  A few have even moved to an unlimited PTO model that doesn't cap time off so long as productivity levels remain at desired output.  Although the average is probably 3 weeks of vacation with 1 week of sick time, the only way to know for sure is to find out what the company you're thinking of joining offers.  Not that it matters much.  Most in house lawyers I know don't use all their vacation allotment regardless of the time granted.  For a quick look into why, check out this post from a few weeks ago.

10.  In house counsel dealing with difficult business people
  I wish I had a single post I could link to with a quick answer for this one.  The fact of the matter is that there are a million different ways of dealing with difficult business people - primarily because there are a million different ways that business people can be difficult.  The best general advice I can offer is to remember that the main goal for everyone should be the best interest of the company.  Try to find that common ground and you'll more likely to gain their trust.  Once trusted, it's more likely that their "difficultness" will be directed to others.  I've found that most often difficult business people are driven by internal politics and not a direct malice.  Treating them with respect will go a long way.

Have any advice that differs from mine?  Feel free to leave it in the comments.

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