Having the perspective of an in-house lawyer affords opportunities to contribute to deals in ways beyond merely preparing legal paperwork, and extends to truly improving the economics of a deal. From the vantage point of the legal department, I have the opportunity to see possibilities for the company without any agenda beyond seeking out the best structure possible for the organization I represent. I can evaluate transactions independent of any particular bonus plan structure that might favor one type of transaction over another, and in a way that’s agnostic to department-focused thinking. I can introduce components to deals brought by one department that benefit other departments, as well as the company as a whole. For example, adding an advertising commitment component to a marketing initiative deal, or bringing advertising into the loop when I become aware of editorial opportunities that might be able to be monetized.
In structuring transactions, I am mindful of the fact that the parties are entering into a contract because they are excited about working together and about the possibilities a partnership brings to both sides. I want to make sure that the legal process doesn’t suck any of that energy or enthusiasm away, and that folks feel as good about working together after going through the legal process as they did before it got started. When I work with startups that don’t have contract forms, I find it very gratifying when those companies are so pleased with the outcome of our negotiations, and feel so satisfied with the fairness of the process, that they elect to adapt the documents I create as forms that they’ll use with future partners.
I believe that the legal department can function as a valuable partner in corporate development and strategic initiatives throughout the company. I am constantly looking for ways to go above and beyond specific requests that are submitted to me, and identify opportunities to help the company in ways that may never have occurred to others.