Conferences / Symposia, In-House Counsel

House Rules: Membership Has Its Privileges

This column was written in the middle of a swamp in Central Florida. Yes, I speak of Orlando, and specifically, the 47 square miles of property belonging to the Disney Corporation. I am attending the Annual Meeting of the Association of Corporate Counsel, but all my kids know is that Dad disappears for a while each day while they ride, eat, play, swim, etc., to their hearts’ content. I have written before of my membership in ACC and the benefits that I have enjoyed in my five plus years as a member. This week, Lat asked me to report in from the conference, and I was happy to oblige.

As an in-house attorney, there are numerous organizations seeking your membership. Depending on your specialty, there are national and even global organizations to join. However, if your company is like mine, and will cover the cost of a state bar membership and one association, the one to join that is truly comprehensive in scope and resources is ACC….

By joining ACC, you are immediately connected to a wealth of resources, from an online, editable contract library, to a career page that allows you to zero in on specialty, geography, and type of position. I know personally several folks who have received interviews by dint of their résumé packages coming from ACC. That alone is worth the price of admission. You can also get yourself published on a topic of interest in the ACC magazine, The Docket. Getting published only helps your résumé, and I guarantee that your CFO, GC, or whomever you report to will appreciate the exposure.

I have also met some of the smartest and nicest attorneys practicing in-house — some for years and some brand new. As with any association, you can be as involved as your time allows. I am proud to have served on the New To In-House Committee (“NTIH”), chairing the group for this past year. As its name suggests, the NTIH committee focuses its efforts on folks who have been in-house five years or less. I have a special passion for helping people who can benefit from the work of those who might have experienced what it’s like to be the new kid on the block. It is usually a vertical learning curve when going in-house, and the more you can pick up quickly and efficiently, the more useful you become to your corporation.

ACC has allowed me to present on various topics of interest, to folks who are genuinely interested — always a better audience. And they truly appreciate the efforts of the membership. Conversely, I have yet to find harder-working or more devoted people than those who run ACC. It would be incorrect to label ACC a grassroots organization, as the events they put on are always first class and run as tight as a drum. When you are invited to present, everything is handled for you, and you are made to feel like a rock star as you basically show up, plug in your laptop, and present to rooms packed with other in-house counsel.

There are also community and pro bono opportunities with ACC Gives Back — last summer, we assisted in renovating a school in a less fortunate neighborhood of Los Angeles. It was quite rewarding to participate in getting my hands dirty and covered in paint for those not as well off, and I have to say that the work was certainly appreciated.

However, to be fair, and as mentioned above, there any number of fine associations looking for your membership dollars, and likely all of them have something great to offer you as in-house counsel. Find the one that fits your needs and join. In fact, do more than just join — participate to the capacity of your available time, and rewards can inure to you that you perhaps never expected.

For me, that association has been ACC, and I am truly grateful to the exceedingly hardworking folks that comprise the ranks of ACC employees. While things appear to be running perfectly to us attendees, the ACC staff is basically running on fumes to ensure that another Annual Meeting goes off without a hitch for the attendees. I can honestly say that this year in Orlando, they have succeeded once again.

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

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