One bright spring day in 2007, I took my former client out to lunch to pitch my new firm. By the end of lunch, my client hired me as his new in-house litigator. I had never considered a corporate counsel job before and had no idea what to expect. This post, and those I’ll write over the next few weeks, will discuss what I learned, both from an inside and outside counsel perspective.
Winning Your Case While Avoiding a CLM
Litigators can be odd members of in-house legal teams, particularly if they come straight out of a litigation-intensive firm. My former firm was probably typical for a litigation boutique: a small collection of very passionate, competitive law nerds. So my entry into the quiet, corporate legal structure presented me with frequent opportunities for career-limiting moves, affectionately known as CLMs.
One of my early CLMs was shushing the CEO. At the time, we were on a conference call with our insurers, discussing litigation against a group of plaintiffs with a $100 million damage model. Within two months of the call, we tried the case and zeroed out the plaintiffs. While it was a huge legal victory, I learned it was equally important not to give the CEO “the hand.” Balancing passionate representation and patience with corporate decision-makers is critical for in-house litigators.