Welcome to the DCA, a twice weekly digital news publication dedicated to covering the top people, events and news in Washington DC’s tech, legal, and association/non-profit communities.
We are launching the DCA this week with profiles of some of DC’s leading corporate counsel who will be honored next week at a special Trending 40 event in Crystal City, VA. Join us to meet them and take advantage of great networking with leaders from the region’s business and legal communities. See you there!
And now….meet our first group of the 2016 Trending 40 Corporate Counsel honorees...
Peter C. Linzmeyer, EVP & General Counsel, IDT Biologika Corporation
Hometown: Green Bay, Wisconsin
First job: Green Bay Packer Stadium Commission – Assisted in cleaning up Packer Football Team dressing room, practice field and stadium.
Let’s be honest, it’s better to be in-house because: In-house counsel enjoy the constructive intellectual and social challenges of “corporate family life” without having to deal with the competitive and production stresses of private practice (where I for many years also had a successful career).
The career advice you’d offer to a law school student: To be successful as a lawyer in a very competitive environment, whether in-house or in private practice, it is critical to be on top of “your game”, i.e. on the one hand, to have a broad understanding of how our legal system functions and on the other, an exceptional competence in your selected areas of expertise, all fortified by continuing study of legal issues, developments and problems and excellent practical experience under the tutelage of seasoned, well-respected senior attorneys.
Sapna Mehta, VP, Associate General Counsel, Revolution LLC
Hometown: Houston, TX
First job: Cici’s Pizza
Let’s be honest, it’s better to be in-house because: I think it’s a no-brainer: no billable hours!
The career advice you’d offer to a law school student: Don’t go to law school because you don’t know what else to do with your life. Oh and take Financial Accounting! Even if it is on Fridays at 8 am…
Sam Logan, VP, Deputy General Counsel & Assistant Secretary, Blackboard Inc.
Hometown: St. Joseph, MI
First job: Landscaper
Let’s be honest, it’s better to be in-house because: You get to solve a wide range of problems alongside super-smart people, only some of whom are attorneys.
The career advice you’d offer to a law school student: Find someone who’s doing what you want to do, and figure out how they got there. Become a true expert at something. Capitalize on your mistakes - learn from them and become a better lawyer. Sweat the small stuff (details matter!) but also figure out a way to prioritize the most important things.
Mai Pham Robertson, Associate General Counsel, Fannie Mae
Hometown: Quakertown, PA
First job: Sending out marketing postcards for a real estate agent (a sign, perhaps?)
Let’s be honest, it’s better to be in-house because: You really can have a work-life balance. And no time entries.
The career advice you’d offer to a law school student: Don’t get too caught up in a particular area of law or practice; focus instead on acquiring the skills and judgment that will allow you to tackle any opportunity that comes your way.
Brett Coffee, COO & General Counsel, Computer Systems Center Incorporated
Hometown: Hinsdale, IL
First job: Selling Christmas wreaths door-to-door for the Boy Scouts
Let’s be honest, it’s better to be in-house because: In-house lawyers get to see a business evolve, work through a wide variety of issues from the inside and impact how the company is advancing society. You’re a problem solver on a daily basis, and get to work with expert outside counsel who bring tremendous insight into specific issues but also the business leaders who look at problems from a very different angle.
The career advice you’d offer to a law school student: The legal profession has changed tremendously, but this is a great opportunity for young lawyers. I wasn’t interested in business issues until I went to law school, but I would highly encourage law students to do a joint JD/MBA program if they have any interest whatsoever in business.