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Eunice Lin Bumgardner is vice president and general counsel of the Bureau of National Affairs Inc., known as BNA. She is the sole attorney in the legal department, aided by one “invaluable assistant,” also the company’s contracts administrator. What does your company do? BNA is a wholly employee-owned publishing company based in Washington. We publish print and electronic information for lawyers and professionals in business and government. Legal Times readers are probably very familiar with BNA and Tax Management products. BNA is the parent of several wholly owned subsidiaries that publish complementary information services. We also own a full-service printing company in Maryland. How did you come to this job? This sounds like a cliché, but it was the result of being in the right place at the right time. Right after law school, I joined a small firm in Washington. In 1994, the year I came to BNA, I was a senior associate at LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & McRae in Washington, specializing in ERISA and employee benefits. One afternoon I received a cold call from a headhunter. It must have been a particularly bad day because I actually took the time to talk to him. Though I absolutely adored my boss at LeBoeuf, Lamb, I was ready for a change. It certainly was not an easy decision, but I have never regretted making the switch. I was hired as associate general counsel and later appointed general counsel when my boss became the president of BNA. How does this job compare with your law firm job? I am now a generalist and love the variety of work that comes across my desk. Sometimes I feel like a solo practitioner who has hung her sign up in a small town. I really get to know my clients, their objectives, and their personalities. It’s a joy not to worry about billable hours and developing business. Instead, I am able to focus on my client and its needs. Being in-house also has taught me to be much more efficient and able to pinpoint and deal with the critical issues. The thing I miss most about law firm life, however, is being surrounded by other attorneys who would be a sounding board. Because of privilege issues and, of course, the need to keep things confidential, I can’t always just run down the hall and discuss what I’m working on. That sometimes makes me feel a little lonely. But that’s a small price to pay for a great job that allows me to have a life outside of work. What’s top of mind for you in your job right now? What’s in those folders piling up on your desk? “Piling up” is right on target. Right now, I am looking at a stack of contracts that need to be reviewed or drafted. Contracts and licensing take up the majority of my time. Some find contract work tedious, but I actually think it’s one of the more fascinating aspects of my job. The subject matter changes from day to day, and the hands-on work allows me to stay on top of what goes on throughout the company. I am also vice chair of ACCA’s Small Law Department Committee, and will be spending some time this summer preparing for ACCA’s upcoming annual meeting. Of course, I never know what will greet me when someone calls — it could be an employment issue, a sales-related question, or a request to review a lease. What is certain is that what is on top of my desk this morning will almost certainly change by this afternoon. Describe your duties. What are the top issues and challenges you face? As the sole in-house lawyer for BNA and its eight subsidiaries, I am responsible for all the legal affairs of the company. I have a pretty tight legal budget, so on any given day I handle a range of matters — contracts, IP, employment, corporate. Because our industry is not regulated and BNA and its subs are fortunate not to be involved in much litigation, I manage it myself most of the time. My main challenge is the same as virtually everybody’s — staying committed to critical long-term projects while putting out fires throughout the day. The longer I stay at BNA, the better I become at juggling matters and identifying priorities. However, I expect this balancing act will continue to be the major challenge. What kind of work do you send out? Although I handle as much as possible in-house, some projects do have to be sent out because of staffing or expertise needs. I send all litigation to outside firms, regardless of the subject matter. I also use outside firms on very large acquisitions, complex real estate deals, and ERISA matters. Which outside counsel do you turn to in various substantive areas? We regularly use Debbie Israel at Piper Rudnick for litigation, Susan Wiltsie at Hunton & Williams for labor, and Cory Amron at Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease for intellectual property, antitrust, and general real estate. McDermott, Will & Emery has handled our pension and employee benefit issues for years. Finally, on media-related issues, we turn to Jon Hart at Dow, Lohnes & Albertson.

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