Gail, you recently returned to private practice after many years in-house — can you describe what that was like?
I spent the first half of my career in private practice as a corporate lawyer, but then was enticed away to work as a general counsel. I spent the next half of my career in-house using my same legal skills but serving one “client.” In both my in-house counsel positions, I fielded a wide range of legal issues across many practice areas. When issues came up that required expertise beyond me, for instance in the employee benefit or tax areas, I was able to call on attorneys in private practice within that specialty area to help address the issue. As a result, I was more of a generalist in many of the legal issues that came to my office. Recently, I decided I wanted to spend the end of my legal career returning to private practice to help small and mid-sized businesses in my community to grow and thrive.
In returning to private practice, I was aware that I had to make sure I was up to speed on the changes in law and its practice that may not have been on my radar screen when I was in-house. Although I was practicing law, serving one client meant that there were other industries and their attendant legal issues on which I was no longer current. As a result, my first priority was to gain access to the technology and tools I need to make sure I was meeting my ethical obligation to my clients.
Can you explain more about what you needed to do to transition back to private practice?
Well, I was keenly aware of the Rules of Professional Conduct that require lawyer competence. In fact, I referred to the ABA/Bloomberg Law Lawyers’ Manual on Professional Conduct in Bloomberg Law’s Legal Ethics & Professional Responsibility Practice Center. The model rules specifically require that all lawyers maintain the requisite knowledge and skill to represent clients, including staying abreast of changes in the law and engaging in continuing study and education. So, from Day One, I was focused on figuring out how I was going to go about doing that.
The practice I am rebuilding involves providing legal services to small and mid-sized companies who are looking for experienced counsel who can provide the best legal advice at a good value. I also counsel institutions of higher education since I was the general counsel of a university for many years. That means that I am responding to a variety of requests for legal advice from clients who are in different industries, with different corporate structures and with different levels of sophistication. I need to be much more specialized in my corporate practice than I was when practicing in-house.
“In returning to private practice, I was aware that I had to make sure I was up to speed on the changes in law and its practice that may not have been on my radar screen when I was in-house.”
Tell us how Bloomberg Law content provided the right solution for you.
I was fully satisfied with the scope of content available through my law firm’s subscription to Bloomberg Law. In Bloomberg Law’s Transactional Intelligence Center, I had access to analytical tools such as Draft Analyzer for contracts and transactions. I was able to get an overview of particular corporate areas, such as stock purchases, in the Practical Guidance Library. I was able to get daily updates on what was impacting businesses during the pandemic in the daily Coronavirus Legal News. I learned about what was going on in the practice of law through reading the Weekend Reads and I was able to do a deeper dive on topics that were more complicated. For instance, I recently reviewed the Bloomberg Law Privacy & Data Security Practice Portfolio on cybersecurity governance for directors, officers, and general counsel. It was an excellent guide on this important topic.
“Bloomberg Law’s In Focus: Coronavirus (Covid-19) pulled together all top stories on Covid-19 across multiple practice areas and gave me a great idea of what was developing legally due to the pandemic. I stayed current on issues involving workplace safety, supply chain issues, and a host of other timely and useful information.”
What has been most helpful to you?
Frankly, I read something from Bloomberg Law every day that is related to some aspect of my practice, so I am not sure there are one or two things that I can separate out. I need to be proficient and efficient with contract drafting, so having access to commercial agreements that can act as templates for me is very helpful because it saves a lot of time (and money for the client).
The Practical Guidance tool is also a timesaver for me. Again, its resources on legal and business issues due to Covid-19 were very helpful. Bloomberg Law’s In Focus: Coronavirus (Covid-19) pulled together all top stories on Covid-19 across multiple practice areas and gave me a great idea of what was developing legally due to the pandemic. I stayed current on issues involving workplace safety, supply chain issues, and a host of other timely and useful information. And the Practice Centers allow me to browse through topics when I have the time; they educate me on new issues and areas that touch on my practice. Luckily, I like to learn, so Bloomberg Law is like walking into a library for me where I can browse, skim, or learn more deeply as the need and my time allow.