Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Red Lights

I've been repeatedly learning a lesson about working in-house: don't let your clients bully you. This is difficult because attorneys want to make their clients happy; even in-house, where your "clients" are other people at your company.

For example, I had a program manager (an engineer) insist that we have the rights to use this code in a new Solaris build. I had to dredge up the agreement and review it while fending off the barrage of emails telling me they needed this approval today because it was mission critical to a pending release. I was frantically emailing up the chain to get confirmation of our licensing rights, as the agreement the client provided wasn't a solid strike.

Finally I got on the phone with a senior attorney, who praised me for flagging it and calmed me down. She reminded me that if the release was delayed a day, it wasn't the end of the world. This isn't the first time I've gotten worked up because of clients trying to rush my approval. Part of it is inexperience - I assume that the clients must know better, because I haven't been here that long. There's a lot of pressure not to get in the way of a deal. But there's a balance between business and legal interests, and the reality is that sometimes, doing your job means being a roadblock.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Speaking Up

On Tuesday I gave a presentation to the VPs of all the legal groups at Sun. I've been working with Sun's Vendor Manager on a new program for engaging outside counsel. I did much of the nuts-and-bolts - rewrote the policy on our wiki, generated the roll-out email, etc. - but the Vendor Manager is usually the one presenting our progress. She was out of town at a conference, so she asked me to do it.

Before I went on, I felt a little nervous, but not too bad. (Presentations in law school are actually good practice.) But there was no getting around it - when I stood up there with my notes, my voice was shaking and it was a bit nerve-wracking. Still, I had rehearsed, and once I got a few slides in I felt comfortable and my knees quit knocking. The only thing to do is practice what you're going to say, so that when it comes to the real deal, you don't have to think too much.

I had one laugh line: Our new policy has 12 steps, and I said, "I assure you, that's purely coincidental..." I paused, and got a chuckle.