January 19, 2018

Life as General Counsel

What it's like working as general counsel for a company, what is the difference between general counsel and in-house counsel, the pros of general counsel, and the cons of general counsel. the life of an in-house attorney. working as an in-house corporate attorney. law school externship. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.com

I have this friend from Study Abroad who is a year older than me and is in med school and one cool thing I've found out through her is that when you're an upper level med student, you go through these rounds of spending 2 weeks working as a family doctor, 2 weeks working as a pediatrician, 2 weeks with plastic surgery, 2 weeks with internal medicine... you get the point. And I am so jealous that they get this opportunity because it's a way for them to experience first hand all of the different areas of medicine and find out what's for sure not for them and narrow down what they want to do. Sadly law students don't get this opportunity so you never really know if there's a field of law out there that you would absolutely love if you just try. I'm a week shy of the med student 2 week experience, but I thought I'd share with y'all what I've already learned so far about being general counsel to give you a little snapshot to see what it's like!


What is general counsel

Traditionally, businesses would hire law firms to do all of their legal work (like Harvey Spectre). Then businesses realized it'd be cheaper and more efficient to have their own attorney employed by their business just for them to handle the day-to-day legal needs and then if there's a big suit or a complicated area, then they can hire a law firm to handle that. I think of general counsel (AKA in-house) as being like the mom of the company. People come to you to complain about problems they need resolved, come to get your advice, and come to when they need to settle an argument. 

How GC is different than just working in a law firm is that usually in a law firm you get really good in one area (say, real estate) and spend most of your time doing that for all kinds of different clients. This is just the opposite where you do a little bit of everything, but for just one client. So you are working on vendor contracts, leasing agreements, trademark licensing, employment issues (workplace safety to avoiding wrongful termination), mergers and acquisitions, anti-trust, buying and selling contracts, ensuring federal and state compliance, dealing with any countries that your company does work with, counseling officers and board members, and basically just any other problem that a business might encounter just trying to operate.

Pros of general counsel

I met a lawyer my 1L year at a networking thing and I asked him what was the worst part about being a lawyer and he said "billable hours fo sho" (okay I'm adding a little "mere puffery" here lol). But as GC you don't have to do that because you're basically billing your client (AKA your employer) with your salary. So whether a document takes you two full weeks or two hours to get done, you get paid the same.

This brings me to my next point of normal business hours. One of the lawyers I work with is married to a private practice attorney and she was explaining to me that while sometimes they both end up with 80-hour work weeks, he has them much more often then she does. And usually she ends up having a 40-hour work week. So if tbh as a woman I really like this idea because I could have kids and not feel guilty about missing their wholes lives because I'm working all the time. Plus, you're missing a lot of happy hours if you're working 80-hour weeks hahah.

One big thing that I've come to realize that I like is just having one client. When everything you do all-day, every-day is for the same client, it can be easy because you understand where they're coming from and what they want. You can be strategic and make decisions not just about what's good for this one situation, but what will be beneficial for the company as a whole in the future. Plus, your client can't be too crazy demanding because they should have a good sense of all of the work that's on your plate (although kinda not really because the finance people don't know what the property people have already given you). But I will point out that a downside of this is that your client is always there so you could be getting calls, emails, or drop-ins all day from people constantly needing help if it's one of those if-it-rains-it-pours kind of days.

Another thing that I personally like is the variety of the work. If my eyes start to bleed from reading regulation after regulation to make sure our policies are up-to-date with them, I can just switch gears and redline contracts for a bit. Detour: redlining a contract is basically we're negotiating a contract with someone else so they'll send us their contract and we mark out all the parts that are bad for us (think like "you waive all rights to sue us ever") and put in our own suggestions (think like requesting that they have a higher liability insurance policy if we're sending our employees onto their property); I personally think it's really fun (law nerd) because you get to be all bossy.  

You don't "real lawyer." One of my bosses jokes that any time she's ever had to go down to court to file a pleading or motion, she's doing "real lawyering." This is pretty rare because usually something like a cease & desist letter can fix a problem or if it's a big problem (think we're going to trial), then outside counsel will hop on board. For me, I don't feel this big urge to be litigating because if you've ever researched for a brief or sat through a trial then you know how it can be really stressful. While GC obviously isn't stress-free, I know that when I show up for work I won't need to have all of the Rules of Evidence or Trial Procedure fresh on my mind to be shouting out all day. Although, if you like the thrill of litigation then I guess this point would go in the next section for you.

Cons of general counsel

Although I am loving my externship, no job is perfect. For starters, these jobs are harder to come by. My company has only two lawyers that handle everything (except for the outside counsel they hire for the more complex issues) and on the other hand, some law firms have literally hundreds of lawyers. I've read both that some companies prefer to cherry pick the best (usually super experienced) person from a law firm and recruit them to their GC but also that now some companies prefer to hire fresh-faced law students so that they grow up learning only how to do things the way the company does. Ideally I'll be able to find a company like the latter (because if we're being honest here as much as I love my company and I'm sure they love me back, they just don't have the need for another lawyer so a job offer definitely isn't waiting for me), but realistically I know I might have to work at a normal firm to gain some experience before I can be qualified enough for a job.

And if we're being blunt then the money of general counsel usually isn't quite the same as a law firm. Since there's no billable hours or contingency fees, as a GC you're salaried just like a normal job. And while the sales team and everyone else at your job are actually making your company money with their job, all you're really doing is helping them not lose money so it's not like you have the opportunity to earn any bonuses. But also, you're still being a lawyer for a company so you're still making good money, just not like a quarter million a year (unless you work for Disney). You also are giving up the chance to be partner because there's really only the position of lawyer or lawyer in the legal department (although you could rise up to be like president of a branch of the company).

Okay so that's all I have so far! I'm sure I'll have lots more to say about this as time goes on, but I wanted to get this post written now while all these concepts are still new and fresh on my mind. Have a good weekend everyone and once again, enjoy studying while I do nothing because I'm basically done with school muahahahahaah 

let's be friends!

January 17, 2018

What's in My Work Bag

What's in my purse for my internship plus how I keep it organized! What's in my bag. Work bag organization. Organized work bag. Work bag essentials. Internship work bag. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.com

I've been meaning to do this for a while since I had this post requested forever ago, but I wanted to wait until my externship to write this so that I can have another perspective. See, I've realized that what you need in your work bag really depends on your work situation. Since I've been in law school, I've been in a situation where I got no desk so I had to bring everything with me every day, I've twice had to share a desk with a fellow part-timer since we had opposite schedules, I've had a job with a desk with lots of drawers where I didn't really need to bring anything with me, and now I have a table instead of a desk (that doesn't have drawers) so I have a mix of what I need and what I can stash at work. 


What's in my purse for my internship plus how I keep it organized! What's in my bag. Work bag organization. Organized work bag. Work bag essentials. Internship work bag. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.com



The bag

I feel like I'll inevitably end up doing a post all about your work bag because I have a lot of thoughts on what to consider when picking one, but I'll do a quick version now. Two words: tote. bag. I have a crossbody bag that I use for going out that better matched an outfit that I had on so I wore it instead of my big bag and it just didn't cut it because I didn't have enough room. Your bag needs to be big enough to fit not only all your basic necessities but also anything you might have to take to/home with you from work. For example, since this past week was my first week I had some HR paperwork to take home and fill out/sign and return. If I didn't have a super big purse then I would've had to fold it or otherwise crumple it and that's just not ideal. Also, some people have work laptops that they have to take home so that's a factor when you're considering sizes. My go-to measuring stick is my padfolio. If that fits, then the bag is good enough for me.



Little bags

What's in my purse for my internship plus how I keep it organized! What's in my bag. Work bag organization. Organized work bag. Work bag essentials. Internship work bag. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.com

I generally like to be organized, so inside my purse I have two smaller bags— one for makeup and one as a catchall. 

What's in my purse for my internship plus how I keep it organized! What's in my bag. Work bag organization. Organized work bag. Work bag essentials. Internship work bag. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.com


The key to reining in a makeup bag is to use travel sizes for all of your makeup! These can either be little add-ons that you throw in your Amazon cart to fill up your prime pantry box or quick items you grab at checkout at Sephora/Ulta. Besides just being space savers, mini makeup products are better for your purse since you don't use these every day so you don't end up still using 3-year-old mascara and get a stye or something. I also keep a cloth hair tie, a clear plastic elastic, and some bobby pins. Another thing that I highly recommend you add to your makeup bag is this spot makeup remover so that you can do quick touch-ups if there's a mishap. Lastly, I keep one of my extra Kendra Scott earring bags in here just in case I get tired of my jewelry and want to take something off.



What's in my purse for my internship plus how I keep it organized! What's in my bag. Work bag organization. Organized work bag. Work bag essentials. Internship work bag. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.com


My other bag basically consists of what normally would be rolling around in the bottom of my purse, just all trapped in one bag so I can find it easily. This used to be my pencil bag but now that I don't need a pencil bag anymore I used to to make my purse more organized. From left to right I keep:
Ear plugs: These are immensely handy to always keep in your purse to block out sound either if you need to concentrate or there's someone really loud nearby.
Tide to-go pen: Sadly I end up using this about once a week, but it saves my outfit every time.
Advil: Just in case you have a bad day or for when you've had a long day and your body is starting to get stiff.
Glasses cleansing cloth: I use this for both my sunglasses and my blue-light blocking glasses that I recently got since I'm staring at a screen all day (not pictured because they're on my desk).
Travel charger: Buy one! You won't regret it, I promise! I'm paranoid about my phone dying because I'm sure that the moment it does, I'll have some emergency and will need it so I always use this when I'm out of the house. And it's small enough that when I switch purses to a smaller one for going out, this can fit too!
Headphones: Over the years I've upgraded my phone enough that I have a pair of headphones for my nightstand, backpack, gym bag, and purse. 
Band-aids: When you work long hours, there's a good chance that your shoes will start rubbing eventually and so that's where these come in. They're also good to have stashed away in general in case you hurt yourself.
AirPods: I love, love, love these! It's a splurge but one that's definitely worth it. You can sneak listening to music while you work since they're completely hidden by your hair and are amazing for the simple fact that you can stand up and walk around without having your headphones ripped from your head.
Travel hair brush: Basically from the walk to my car into my building is long enough that the wind almost inevitably ends up messing up my hair so I have to brush my hair every morning once I get to my desk. I usually also end up needing it again about mid-day just from running around the office.
Phone cord: I have to have my phone cord for my travel charger so I go ahead and keep a cube in my purse too and then I always have a way to charge my phone. I also keep a cord/cube at my desk just in case (I recommend getting a colored one so that no one can steal yours if everyone knows you as the girl with the neon pink phone cord).
Lotion: If your New Year's resolution was to drink more water, then I have a surprise for you. Drinking lots of water = lots of bathroom trips = lots of hand washing = dried out hands. And literally the worst time to have dried-out hands is when you're dealing with a stack of papers on your desk because that's how paper cuts happen. 
Stylus pen: I need a pen for my planner so I figured I might as well get one that's a stylus as well for doodling on Snapchat/Instagram.


Wallets

What's in my purse for my internship plus how I keep it organized! What's in my bag. Work bag organization. Organized work bag. Work bag essentials. Internship work bag. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.com

Having a two-wallet system sounds extra but is actually a really great system! In my smaller wallet I only keep my driver's license and debit card since those are my only necessities. This way, I always have at least those two, plus my car keys and apartment key on me at all times (just keep a Tile either on your keychain or in your wallet because you'd because screwed if you lost this). Then in my other wallet are important things to have like cash and my insurance cards and gift cards, but that's not something that I always will need on me so they can go in the big wallet. So, if I just have to run to the grocery store real quick then instead of taking a big purse with me all I need are my keys and phone. 





Food and drink

What's in my purse for my internship plus how I keep it organized! What's in my bag. Work bag organization. Organized work bag. Work bag essentials. Internship work bag. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.com

I've just always drank a lot of water so I am never without a water bottle. I stupidly packed up my collection of Tervis cups and Swell bottles and left them in storage back in Lubbock so I had to go buy a new water bottle. I found this water bottle and it's my new favorite! It has a lock on it so you can keep it from opening up and spilling in your purse! 

My lunch bag is kinda small which is a pro because that means usually I can fit it in my purse and that's one less thing to carry, but also is a con because it doesn't hold all that much. Right now I keep my lunch in here and my snacks (like a banana and peanut butter crackers) floating around in my purse. Honestly pretty soon I'm planning on getting a bigger lunch box so that I can meal prep on Sunday's and fit all of the food and snacks into it.

Extras

What's in my purse for my internship plus how I keep it organized! What's in my bag. Work bag organization. Organized work bag. Work bag essentials. Internship work bag. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.com

Everything else goes back to what I was saying earlier about what your situation is. I keep my planner in my purse since I don't have a drawer to keep it in and I don't just want to leave it laying around. Sometimes I bring my Kindle with me to work and read a little during my lunch break. And back when I worked at the Capitol I had a long walk to get from the parking garage to my building so I would keep cheap flip flops in my purse to change into from my heels. I also super recommend adding a small deodorant to your purse if you have a long walk and you can thank me later. If I know it's going to rain or if it's just Spring in general then I keep a small umbrella in my purse. I did find a space to stash a minimergency kit at my desk, but you could totally keep one in your purse since these are so small. If you're in a situation where you know you can be networking (like when I was at a courthouse), you can keep a business card holder for ones you get as well as your own to hand out. If you have a lot of little electronics or cords to keep up with, you can organize them with a GridIt. Lastly, not pictured for obvious reasons is this.


let's be friends!

Follow