In-house counsel are integral to highly disruptive, innovative, and interesting companies but that often gets lost in the plodding mundanity of the everyday. It is understandably hard to see your impact when it feels like all you're doing is wading through the umpteenth contract of the day.
Teresa Allan from Capgemini believes taking a step back and examining the outcomes and implications of your work is a great way to feel more fulfilled. Especially if you can begin to see the ripple effect your contribution is having on the business or the world, whatever the scale.
As a feminist, Allan prides herself on ensuring co-workers of all genders are empowered and supported to have children if they so wish. Her goal is to make it as straightforward as possible for people to come and go and work flexibly, giving them as much space and support as they need throughout the process. She often jokes as a result of this, there's always one member of her team on parental leave at any given time.
While some might view this as an impressive company policy that impacts only a few, Allan sees it and the rest of her work at Capgemini in a more holistic light. "This is the world I want for my children, and in my own tiny micro way I've got the ability to do small things that might have a ripple effect."
Allan's action might be small, but as well as having a big impact on her colleagues it is very meaningful. "For me, the satisfaction is that some of the stuff we're doing is really cool and has an impact," she says.
Throughout her career, Allan has been a devotee of introspection. "It's worth taking the time to have a good think about what it means to you to be fulfilled," she says, while noting that it is less about the specifics of the work you are doing and more about the wider implications of that work and how it aligns with your values.
Focusing on alignment is Allan's key principle. She says not much can go wrong if your work and life values are in sync. "When you focus on alignment, whether that's alignment with your values or alignment with the energy you have to put it into your work, everything becomes much more fulfilling."
She says that alignment can help to shift your definition of work from a collection of disparate tasks to "something that interests and stimulates you, where you are surrounded by people who have your back (and you've got theirs), where you laugh each day and can make a difference."
Suppose you're fundamentally at odds with the company's values. In that case, especially if you see those values, or lack of them, reflected in the leadership - it might be time to consider looking for a role in a company that better aligns with yours.
It's not hard to get stuck in the weeds as a counsel, especially when you're staring down the barrel of yet another contract as your emails pile up.
Sometimes it's worth taking a minute, maybe over a cuppa, to reflect on what it means to be an in-house counsel and to appreciate how dynamic, engaging, challenging, and fulfilling the role can be.