Dear Santa...
Our annual letter on behalf of in-house lawyers everywhere.

It’s that time of year again – the time when whiny, ungrateful brats1 beg you for miracles to be delivered in brightly wrapped packages while they instantly forget about all the work put into to make it. Oh wait, that’s just in house practice at year end.  (Of course, we have a much different environment here at Bigfork Tech, but my in house brethren know exactly of what I speak!) We in house lawyers know all of the hard work that goes into making those miracle deals happen before the tax year ends, or getting the audit delayed until after everyone goes on vacation.  And delivering those miracles have left many of us a bit cranky this time of year.

But, I’m sure you understand and emphasize with our plight.  That’s why I know that you will not be leaving coal in our stockings.  But I thought you might like a few suggestions of what we would like this year.

At the top of our list every year is the wistful request that our sales teams don’t leave the biggest deals of the year to be lobbed over the legal fence with less than a week left in the year.  I know it’s not their fault, this year instead of hoping for our sales people to stop with the rush deals, I’m wishing for customers who settle their budget cycles and make clear decisions at the beginning of the month or quarter instead.

While we’re on the topic of changing perceptions, can we talk about the perception that in house lawyers just “do contracts” or just “manage litigation”?  Not since my baby lawyer days have I had the luxury of focusing on a single area of practice.  Most in house lawyers are generalists by nature.  Sure a few large companies have the ability to hire lawyers to specialize in a practice area.  But they make up less than half of all in house lawyers, and even they have to occasionally go out of their practice area to support changes in the business need. 

Juggling so many areas can be stressful. It’s one of the reasons we built ALOE to manage all the work that comes through the department and not just contract lifecycle management or matter management.  Now that I have a tool that helps me manage the workload, maybe we can work on helping my colleagues understand that their issue isn’t the ONLY thing on my desk. The weekly reports sent to the leadership team should help them understand this (if only they would read them).

I guess what we really want for Christmas this year is some understanding and respect for the value we contribute to our organizations. And maybe a day off or a winning lottery ticket?  

Actually, I’m blessed at Bigfork Tech to have a team that truly does respect my value and even though they can submit a new legal request from anywhere directly to my to do list in ALOE, I know they’ll give me at least one day off for the holiday.  So, can we talk about that lottery ticket?

Yours Truly,

Tanya

  1. Only kidding, my colleagues, customers and vendors at Bigfork Tech are wonderful and always grateful for the work of the team, if only that were the case everywhere.
Tanya Avila

Tanya Avila

Tanya has made a career of building legal departments in fast paced, fast growth environments. Having repeated the process at half a dozen different organizations, she is passionate about all things that bring efficiency and sanity to the internal legal process.