Monday, December 10, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things

As you know, I love the holidays.  One of my favorite aspects is the sharing of things that are important to us.  On a personal level, there is nothing that brings people closer than sharing their traditions and their hopes for the new year with one another.   On a professional level, this is a great time of year to pick up tips and tricks from colleagues who may be more willing to share now than when they're buried with work in the Spring.  So, while I'm not going to turn this blog into a sappy 'after school special', I do want to share a few of my favorite things with my fellow in house brethren.   

One of the things about being in house is the lack of resources.  You're already costing the company, so getting tools to be more efficient at your job may be a luxury if the price tag is too high.  This is true regardless of whether you're in a small department or a large one, although the cost benefit analysis will be slightly different when deciding which tools to get.  So for the value you get for the money spent here are a few of my favorite resources:

1.  Association of Corporate Counsel.  I can not stress enough how many great resources you get just by joining.  At a cost of a couple hundred dollars a year per attorney, you get access to form documents, policy papers, research, CLE's and a network of a 30,000 other in house attorneys who are generally willing to share what's worked for them.  If you get only one resource in the new year, this is the one to get!

2.  Cobblestone System's Contract Insight.  As a document management tool, this has a ton of features that makes managing work flow and central repository of documents manageable for a small team.  Warning, it's not pretty at all and there are features that would make my life even easier.   But, for the low cost you can't beat the functionality.  You can track start and end dates, assign approvals and other tasks, track versions, and control access on a personal/department/function level.

3.  Google.  Let's face it, almost everything you need to know you can find with a carefully crafted Google search.  While you do have to be wary of unknown sources, you can find a lot of general answers with the search engine.  You won't be finding specific case law, and I wouldn't cite it in a pleading - but if your HR team needs a quick answer for a payroll question Google can be a huge time saver.

4.  Twitter.  I don't have the time to keep up to date with every new legal headline or the technical ones that matter to my business.  Twitter has become a great aggregator for me.  If you pick the right people to follow, your feed becomes a stream of good information, often summarized succinctly with the best articles about the topic trending highest.  You can also see good conversations about any particular issue to gauge how the matter is playing out.  A few great follows:  @legalbrat, @lawyercatrin, and @BretTechLawyer will keep you updated on interesting EU/UK/international matters that may be missed with US-centric sources (not to mention the food porn!).  @ACCinhouse, @InHouse_Bern, @CorpCounsel and @Insidecounsel generally have headlines and commentary on legal matters affecting in house practice.  And @TechCrunch and @mashable are both generally good at promoting any interesting new tech updates, including legislation that will have an affect on tech.   You can even follow me on twitter, @TanyaAvila - although I rarely have anything interesting or informative to say.  I do however complain about the cold, my kids' germs and random stuff about Texas.

So there's my top 4.  Have any to add?  Share with us in the comments.