When Michael Brizel worked as the general counsel for luxury retailer Saks Inc. from 2007 to 2013, sales were declining and store closures became increasingly common. Morale within the legal department sank at times, especially for Saks’ in-house real estate lawyer during the Great Recession.

“It got to the point where all she was doing everyday was calling mall owners and developers to negotiate getting out of our leases,” Brizel recalled. “It was a really stressful and emotionally difficult time.”

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