Blogging, In-House Counsel, Media and Journalism

House Rules: ‘I Looked At The Clock And It Was Half Past Four’

I realized this week my one-year anniversary writing for Above the Law had come and gone. For some of you, it may seem like I have way overstayed my welcome, and for others (especially the hundred or so who sent heartfelt letters to my Gmail account) it may have gone quickly. For me, the year has been, well, interesting.

I “applied” for the position of writing about in-house life in August 2011. To their credit, or not, Lat and Elie asked me to write about what life is like as in-house counsel. I figured that the opportunity would help keep my writing skills sharp, get my name around, and offer me an opportunity to interact with others in the same arena, or those who wanted to go in-house. All have come to fruition.

I looked through some of my past columns, and like other writers, am frankly embarrassed by some, and proud of others. Candidly, it is difficult to write a weekly column on a topic such as in-house life. I am awestruck that Mark Herrmann can do it twice weekly. You can discuss how you got here, why you got here, and how others can get here. Then, for the Biglaw folks, you talk about how to get work from here, how to write RFPs for here, and so on. Finally, you can discuss what you do, why you do it, and give some anecdotes about your failures and successes.

You can throw in some gossip from your stint as a clerk and in Biglaw, and some very veiled gossip about in-house life. You can even approach the precipice of being honest about your career, all the while keeping one hand behind you grasping to a root, as you must always remember that this is a highly public forum….

I have attempted to be honest and straightforward in my writing. I view this column as a place to offer advice, solace, or plain tips about the practice of law in a very down economy. When those emails mentioned above come in, I try my best to respond to every single one, and then accomplish what the writer is looking for — taking the role of mensch, if I may be so bold.

Then, there are the commenters. Supposed anonymity can allow the pathological to go even more crazy. I have been called everything in the book, and then some. The advice I can give the haters is to be extra cautious — if you’re not just a troll, there is every possibility that some day you may be outed, and “in times of economic uncertainty, never ever f*** with another man’s livelihood.” (Guido the Killer Pimp, Risky Business, 1983.)

But there are those, like the late Bonobo Bro (and others), who offer critiques of my writing and views that (minus the snark) help me become a better writer. I’d have to give the helm of Golden Boy to Haterade of late. He/she offers scathing commentary, while making good sense. One of these days, I’ll make it down to the City for an ATL event, and share a drink or four with some of you. Maybe I’ll even get to meet Lat.

For now, I will keep plugging away in-house. Earnings reports are not good this quarter, but my company is in league with any number of major corporations that are facing “headwinds.” It will be interesting to see how economic events in Europe impact our economy, and what effect, if any, the election will have on our 401k plans. It will also be interesting to see what changes come about in the coming year for law grads, as well as Biglaw refugees. I know people are hiring, the web boards have hundreds of available in-house jobs, and firms around here are slowly taking on young lawyers. It seems we’ve been in the doldrums for too long — about five years, to be exact. Something’s gotta give, I just hope that the give is in the right direction for all of us.

Thanks for reading.

Note: For those of you who recognize that quote in the title, you do know that it’s from the song “Hey Bartender” as performed by the Blues Brothers when they opened for Steve Martin at the Hollywood Bowl in 1978. Damn!


After two federal clerkships and several years as a litigator in law firms, David Mowry is happily ensconced as an in-house lawyer at a major technology company. He specializes in commercial leasing transactions, only sometimes misses litigation, and never regrets leaving firm life. You can reach him by email at dmowry00@gmail.com.

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