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Some of the downsides of being in a small law department

A columnist in InsideCounsel, Dec. 2007 at 84, must be in a small law department. Michael Baroni, the general counsel for BSH Home Appliances, writes about the saving graces of humor, which is especially important in small legal departments. Why there?

“[B]ecause it can offset the higher stress, longer hours and monotony of autonomy that lean teams often have to suffer through.”

A touch of solipsism there, I suspect. Any lawyer in the bee-hive of a huge department may be under just as much or more stress as a solo in-house counsel. The legal problems may well be more convoluted, more people have to be opposed, corralled or checked on, and the adversary may be implacable. As to hours, no one has published data that shows you work fewer hours as your law department grows in the number of its attorneys. Lastly, the “monotony of autonomy” is an odd phrase. I would think that a solo would have the fear of autonomy because there is no one else to consult, unlike in a larger department (See my posts of May 8, 2007 about stressful positions; and April 15, 2006 about solo GCs compared to Deputy GCs in large departments.). Some people thrive on responsibility and being able to make the decision.

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