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They say that happiness is relative. INDEED, The very idea of happiness is a fairly new concept: Our forebears thought it was a good day if an army didn’t attack their village, take them as slaves, and burn their houses down. All of which is a long way of introducing Corporate Counsel’s 2002 Quality of Life survey. We poked around 50 of the nation’s largest law departments and asked almost 600 in-house lawyers whether they were satisfied with their compensation, colleagues, and work. You told us life was, basically, not bad at all, even during what most will agree has been a terrible year for corporate America. We started these surveys back in 1999 with a different aim. Instead of tracking trends, we wanted to compare our readers with their law firm counterparts. Were corporate law departments in those boom years a welcome alternative to the billable hours rat race? The answer, to be succinct, was “yes.” So imagine the dismay some in-house lawyers at Exelon Corporation felt when their boss told them they’d have to track their hours, in six-minute increments. That fact, and other details, provide the human side of our study. This year, with the aim of taking a fresh look at our data, we sliced it three different ways, and we profile a prominent and innovative general counsel, an industry in transition, and Exelon’s legal department. The stories, by CC reporters Catherine Aman and Krysten Crawford, and freelance writer Elisabeth Preis, flesh out what otherwise might have been a dry, statistical analysis. In a column that’s anything but dry, freelance writer (and onetime CC editor) Alec Foege muses on the perfect holiday gift for the corporate lawyer who has everything, including, possibly, an indictment on the way. You might be wondering why a different signature appears at the end of this column. CC editor Robin Sparkman is on maternity leave, and I’m stepping in for a couple of months. She’ll be back soon enough, pondering such things as her workplace, her colleagues, and whether she has enough time for her private life.

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