Archive for May, 2006

Teamwork Key to In-house Success

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

How to be an advisor who spots legal pitfalls…and still be part of the team. Many in-house lawyers struggle with these dual roles.

Both law school and law firm practice teach lawyers to spot problems and to disclose the problems to clients.  So, many clients see lawyers in a negative light:  lawyers are the ones that impede progress.

To be effective, in-house attorneys need to be seen not just as problem spotters, but also as solution builders.  In-house lawyers need to be considered part of the team.

Yesterday I discussed this topic at an Association of Corporate Counsel meeting.  One lawyer explained how he fired several junior attorneys when he became general counsel of a public communications corporation; his clients had resisted working with the junior attorneys, viewing them as too inexperienced and obstructionist. This general counsel then improved his department’s credibility by hiring seasoned lawyers who knew how to find solutions.

Sometimes an in-house lawyer has to work hard to build bridges of trust, especially if his clients considered his predecessor an obstructionist. So, how do in-house lawyers become part of the team?

Some try to cultivate good relations with their clients by having lunch with them, stopping by their offices to chat, or getting to know them outside of work. When I moved in-house after years of law firm practice, I was amazed at how much time I suddenly spent traveling and socializing with my clients, all for the sake of teamwork.

Many in-house attorneys try to attend lots of planning and other business meetings to stay abreast of their clients’ goals. Other successful in-house lawyers expressly tell their clients that they want to become a constructive team member and add value by making business move along more smoothly.

If you are an in-house counsel, let your clients know that you want to help them reach their goals.  Tell them that you will work proactively to try to find solutions to any legal problems.  Then build trust by making your actions match your words.  Teamwork is a true key to in-house success.

International Lawyers: What Would You Like to Learn About?

Tuesday, May 16th, 2006

Welcome to the International Lawyer Coach Blog!  My goal is to is to share information through this Blog that will make life easier for my fellow international lawyers.

Blog posts share practice tips about ways to enhance your international law practice, develop more clients, travel more efficiently, work smarter, and the like. I will also pass along recommendations from other practicing international lawyers about ways to enhance your practice.

What kind of information would you like to see in the Blog?  Please review the categories below, and email your suggestions to:

Please also contribute tips to share with your peers – favorite international business hotels or other travel tips, helpful resources, and the like.

Whether you are an active international lawyer, an aspiring international lawyer, or one who is contemplating transitioning from the practice, we welcome your input!

Flags of the World­–and Other Information Tidbits

Tuesday, May 9th, 2006

Leave it to the good old CIA.  If you’re wondering about the style of the flag of Burkina Faso, for example, or Mayotte, or even Palmyra Atoll, the CIA has its flag pictured for you:  Click the link under the flag to get basic stats about the country. 

The CIA also provides helpful comparisons ­– helpful for Americans, that is.  Did you know that Panama is just slightly smaller than South Carolina?  Hmmm.  Stock up on these tidbits for Trivial Pursuit.

Breaking the Golden Handcuffs

Friday, May 5th, 2006

This week I led a teleconference about international lawyers who are overworked and stressed but feel trapped in their jobs by “golden handcuffs.”  I discussed some of the unique pressures that international lawyers face because their jobs cross borders and time zones–and the burnout that this causes.

Even if they are burned out, many international lawyers feel tied to their jobs..  Sometimes they fear making less money or losing the prestige that comes with their job.  Maybe their lifestyle depends on a certain income.   If you are an international lawyer experiencing job burnout, you probably want to reexamine your life, priorities and values.  But, before you embark on that analysis, agree to do this:  Put aside your financial concerns for the moment.  Tell yourself that you will not – for the time being – worry about how much money you need to earn if you change jobs, or how you will do it.  Money concerns often sabotage the self-examination process.  First, get clear on the kind of life that you truly want. Then figure out how much money you really need to live on.  Finally, determine how you will earn it.For more on this topic, read the article on Breaking the Golden Handcuffs in the Learn: Professional Development section of the website. 



High-powered Women Lawyers Adapt Childcare Solutions

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006

It’s the eternal dilemma: How can successful women lawyers juggle work and family obligations?

Recently I heard a variety of high-powered female lawyers sharing their personal strategies for managing vibrant careers and happy families. Their solutions varied.

One female partner’s husband volunteered to stay home and raise their children.  Another prominent female lawyer detailed her and her spouse’s demanding, heavy travel jobs.  Neither was willing to cut back.  And so, this couple (with three children) hired multiple nannies to ensure constant coverage; even though one parent tries to arrive home by 6:00 pm, having a nanny present every morning and evening guarantees that the parents can meet their jobs’ unpredictable demands.

Yet another female attorney described moving to a more flexible in-house position that allowed her to spend more time with her children.  However, in order to keep getting promoted, she volunteers to be on call 24/7.  She takes her cell phone everywhere and commonly works late at night from home.

Even though these women found different childcare solutions, they had two things in common.  First, they were absolutely committed to maintaining upwardly mobile careers.  Second, they had adapted their childcare over the years to match their children’s changing needs, and the various demands of their and their spouses’ careers.  In other words, they had been flexible about their childcare, and sought out different solutions as their families’ needs changed.