ALM Properties, Inc.
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The "P" Word
I tend to be a formalist when it comes to language. It's one of the few perks left these days to magazine editors. I try to steer clear of jargonwhether business or legal. At Corporate Counsel, we use "impact" as a noun, not a verb, and I prefer my teams to be groups of athletes who play sports together.
For some reason, though, I keep going back to the word "passionate" when it comes to work settings. We often joke about the misuse of that word here in our newsroomcan anyone be passionate about a PowerPoint presentation? Or passionate about an insurance quote?
But I digress. Here's why that word has become a sort of theme, at least to me this month. Once again, we present the winners of our annual Best Legal Department awards. And in many ways, they seem to have little in common. In fact, this year's Fab Four first features a couple of small departments. Then there's a large group in a large pharmaceutical company. And the last (in a first for us) is the legal team of a public institution.
I tried to think of a common thread, but at first it wasn't easy, even for two departments in ostensibly similar industries, pharma and biotech-generated medicine. One is large, does everything in a thoughtful, systematic way, and has lots of pro bono programs and diversity projects and systems for choosing outside counsel. The other one acts like the relative start-up that it is. It's a small group, they do everything, and if a lawyer is faced with a novel challenge, he or she comes up to speed real quick.
Likewise, the legal departments of a large gaming company and a public university might seem to be from different planets. Or maybe notthey both preside over far-flung empires, one in a state that could qualify as a decent-size country, the other with casinos spread throughout the world.
But the one trait that all of these departments have in common is that the people who toil in them are really, really passionate about the work they do. And I'm not misusing the word here. Some of the university's lawyers and staff are alumni, some of the pharma folk have personal ties to friends and family who need their products. They're all committed to a mission, and that mission motivates them to do their jobs in thoughtful, innovative ways. Congratulations to all.
This year's edition would not have come together so easily without my aide-de-camp, executive editor David Hechler. Besides editing a lot of the stories you read here, he helps run the shop. David views the calendar as more than a suggestion and, if necessary, ambushes me at lunchtime with lists of decisions we have to make. Thanks, David.