The Legal Department

How Big Law Is Helping To Develop The Legal Department: Joe Glynias Husch Blackwell

The Legal Department | Joe Glynias Husch Blackwell | Big Law

ICYMI, there’s a sea change happening at law firms. Progressive firms like Husch Blackwell are recognizing that law practice isn’t a one-size-fits-all career. After noticing that colleagues who left the firm for in-house roles were unprepared or maybe didn’t find the right fit, Glynias worked with the professional development team led by Sommer Bougie and in-house lawyers from the firm’s client base to develop a program to help its own attorneys explore in-house careers.  The firm estimates that 42% of its business comes through in-house alumni.  But the business case wasn’t the “why” for creating this program, Joe and Husch Blackwell have a passion for developing attorneys. 

In this episode, we’ll explore this innovative program and how its triple aim benefits firm lawyers, the firm, and ultimately, their clients. Joe also shares his thoughts on how to build a relationship with outside counsel that is mutually beneficial for the client and the firm.  It all comes down to communication and using the Golden Rule in your relationships.

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How Big Law Is Helping To Develop The Legal Department: Joe Glynias Husch Blackwell

I am Joe Glynias, Chair of the firm Husch Blackwell. A fun fact about me is I have two high school diplomas.

In this episode, I’m excited to welcome Joe Glynias, who’s Chair of Husch Blackwell, a national law firm headquartered in my hometown of St. Louis. We’re going to have a conversation about an innovative program that he started at the firm to develop in-house talent, oddly, just what an interesting mashup that is, and a topic I want to delve into around law firm relationships. Joe, I’m happy to have you here.

Stacy, thank you so much. I’m thrilled to be a part of it. I’ve been a new but excited audience, and it’s great what you’re doing. I appreciate you taking some time to chat about the program. We’re excited.

Law Firm

Thank you. You got on my radar. I’ve known about the firm. One of my law school classmates still works there as being in charge of people or client development. I saw an article in Law 360 about this. It was a head-scratcher. The firm is developing a training program to train associates who are interested in house careers. Tell me about that.

Yes, it is. For a lot of people, it seems very counterintuitive, both inside and outside the legal industry, but it’s exactly what you said. We are taking this as an opportunity to train our lawyers who may have an interest, I should stress the word, may have an interest in going in-house and providing them with a curriculum that has substantive and specific guidance on what it’s like to be an in-house lawyer on a day-to-day basis.

The types of skills that are necessary, the challenges that come across, and the options they’d have to consider as they’re thinking about different in-house roles, we created it because years ago, as I became a supervising attorney, I started to have conversations with colleagues who would walk into my office, close the door, I’d immediately know what was going on, and they would sit down and tell me they were leaving. In every instance, the decision was already made.

Immediately, I started thinking to myself that I wish we would have had a chance to talk about it because I would have loved to help you. It wouldn’t necessarily have been trying to talk you out of it, which is probably the fear for a lot of folks. That happened more and more. Every time, it felt a little bit worse because I felt like I wasn’t there as a resource for people who were friends to me.

I started to recognize that, and then over time, clients would reach out and ask for candidates for openings that they would have, either temporary, like a secondment for maternity leave or something else, or permanent opening, and ask if we had people. Ad hoc at times, I would have people that I could offer up, but there was no systematic way of offering it up.

It felt like we weren’t serving our people and clients well. We realized there was an opportunity to provide that training, get exposure to people who want to consider it, and also good candidates for our clients who need it. That was the driver behind why we created the program, and it’s been extraordinary since we launched the idea.

It is extraordinary. I want to pick on a couple of things in there. You talk about the conversation that you have when the colleague is getting ready to leave. I wonder if that’s a hard conversation for a couple of reasons. If I were in that position, I would be thinking, I might want to tell them earlier, but what happens if I don’t get the job? They’re going to think I’m not committed to the firm, or are they going to try to talk me out of it? If they encourage me, does this mean I don’t have a future at the firm? It’s a tricky conversation. How do people come forward for it? I know that you’re very early, but how are people selecting for it?

I love the way you frame this up. The way that people select it is that we present to all the firms and various presentations, telling them about the program and saying anyone who wants to apply can, with the small exception that they need to be a level two associate or above. At our firm, being a level two associate or above means that, for the most part, you’re past the first 3 to 4 years of your practice. After that, our senior associates, fixed-income partners, equity partners, and senior counsel, all of them are eligible.

All they had to do through this first round was respond to an email with a short explanation of why they wanted to be a participant in HB in-house. In the first year, we’re limiting it to about 25 participants because our clients and others who have reached out to us are volunteering their time. We make sure that we’re not wasting their time because we expect that we’ll be tweaking this along the way as we go through this first year.

I would also think you don’t want a mass exodus of people from the firm. We want to encourage you in your career but stay here in bill hours.

You’re right. In the future, it will get broader. This is probably a bit down the line in the conversation, but one of the things we learned is it’s a great opportunity for people to understand our clients better. We may ultimately have this be something that everyone is required to do at the firm, which would eliminate the sting that you were describing before about how do I even begin this conversation for fear of any of the three things that you listed if it’s a required part of being an attorney at Husch Blackwell, but that’s a little bit down the line.

It seems like a triple win. The attorney who’s going through the training is getting a huge benefit and being able to explore the in-house role without having to take the leap and get to something that might not be fit for the firm to get to know those clients better. Also, I would imagine getting better connectivity with your associates. That’s a real message that you’re investing in them. Have you gotten good feedback so far?

The feedback has been probably the most inspiring part of this whole thing for me, both from our people and from the public when the press release went out. Many people are motivated by the right things and feel recognized by the program and appreciated. I’d be lying to you if I told you we didn’t recognize the benefits that flow to the firm. That was not the driving force.

We’ve been very clear as we’ve continued to develop it, we’re not going to change our focus for that to be the driving force. The driving force is going to be to help the development of our people and help our clients with what they need. The reaction along those lines has been the most inspiring part of it. Another win too was something we learned from our clients who we didn’t expect to learn. Many of them asked, “Can we send our new people who aren’t Husch Blackwell attorneys but our new hires to be part of that program?”

The Legal Department | Joe Glynias Husch Blackwell | Big Law
Big Law: The driving force is to help the development of our people and help clients with what they need.

In the first year, the answer is no, but next year, the answer is yes. It’ll be that way. What we’ve learned through some of our other training programs, and we have a lot of them to develop all these different aptitudes, is that the people who participate in it together, the classmates, so to speak, develop a bond. That bond lasts for quite a long time, to the extent that these people work in-house and our people will be classmates, developing that bond be greatly beneficial to them as well.

Program Structure

I like to get down to it. We didn’t do a whole lot of background about how the program is structured. Maybe talk about that so I can start picking at you about how the relationships are going to develop, but how is the program structured?

Our people are busy. We have a lot of client demands at all times. We’ve tried to structure it in a way that it would not be such a commitment that someone would have to be dedicated to the move in-house to be willing to take on. We do want it to be exploratory. We want people to figure out, “Is this right for me or is it not?” We have structured it so that the classwork takes place over four months.

It’s going to start in June and end in September 2024, but we have six different modules along with an introductory piece. Those modules are going to be broken up across those four months. In month one, you’re going to get the introduction and module one. The content is delivered in three different ways. The part of it is going to be live, in-person instruction. When I say live, what I mean is our presenters and in-house faculty will be presenting live.

Some people will be physically present with them if they happen to be in the same location, but others will be participating virtually in events like those. That’s one way in which we’re developing and delivering the content. We’re going to have eLearning courses that have been developed with an outside vendor that people can consume on their own time.

All of the people who are participating in this program are very busy. Those courses will be 20 to 30 minutes each, so to speak. They’re interactive, I should have mentioned, those eLearning courses where they’re answering questions and considering some of the information they’ve been given. After each of these eLearning courses, there will be cohorts of 2 to 3, maybe it’s sometimes 4, depending on the size of the program.

Participants will meet with one of our in-house faculty advisors and talk through the lesson that has been delivered in that eLearning. The last piece of it will be one-on-one direct mentoring. Each of our participants will have an in-house faculty member who will be a mentor to him or her. Once they’ve completed those four months of coursework, we will have secondments available. Some of them will come up through necessity. I had a client call saying, “I’ve got someone going on maternity leave in October. Do you have a participant who can cover it?”

Others will be created in conjunction with our clients, where they will create opportunities for those individuals to not only handle the day-to-day work of an in-house council but also intentionally have exposure to time with the SLT and potentially the board so they can understand what goes into all of that. If we get all these things right, at the end of the secondments, we’re going to have a job matching program where our clients will be able to come to us and say, “I’ve got this spot I need to fill. What candidates do you have? Would we be right?” To the extent that we have graduates at the course that are right for it, we will pair them up.

This is a very thought-out program, and I’m curious how you got it off the ground.

My contribution gets oversized in the way that people are covering it because it was just an idea. I couldn’t even complete the curriculum. All that credit goes to our in-house faculty members, but so much of the credit to make this a truly professional, sophisticated, and reliable educational program for our people goes to our professional development department, and particularly one of our professionals by the name of Sommer Bougie.

She is skilled in developing these kinds of programs and interacting with the attorneys and the in-house faculty advisors who have built the curriculum to keep me on task and make sure that I’m responding when things need to get done. Also, interacting with everyone, all the participants, the remarkable in-house world that has reached out with interest in supporting it and doing it in a way that makes sure that everything is handled. She takes it from idea to reality and does it in an extraordinarily professional way. Summer Bougie deserves a ton of credit for getting this off the ground.

I might need to talk with her. I’m blown away. Smart and thoughtful. When we talked before, I don’t think I appreciated how the GC or the in-house attorneys would be working side by side. You can read about it, but it is such a different job. I’m working on actually an article about in-house work. I want to get into the differences between outside council work and in-house council work. You don’t know.

I remember when I first started at USC, I had a contract to review, and I’m doing a legal review. I’m marking it up, and I handed it back. The businessperson almost fell out of their chair. They’re like, “What am I supposed to do with this? It’s too much.” I learned that you have to be very strategic about what you choose to mark up, for example. You cannot boil the ocean and say, “I want everything in this contract to be perfect.” You have to be strategic. That was something when coming from a law firm where the work has to be perfect. It’s hard to develop that internal barometer.

The great part about everything you said is all of it is foreign to me. I’ve been a lawyer for many years. I’ve always felt like I had good relationships with my clients, and I do, but to the extent that I thought I understood their lives. To a limited extent, I do, but it wasn’t until I developed this curriculum with them that I was just a fly on the wall. The way we did it is we had a 4 or 5-person advisory group who, even though we had this idea, I’ve never been in-house, and I didn’t know how to construct the curriculum, they helped us put a skeleton together.

“What is it that we should even be thinking about when we develop this curriculum because we’re going to go out to a broader group?” We can’t just go out to them and say, “What do you think?” and then ask them to just send us all their thoughts. We wanted to have some structure so that we could maximize their time. We did that, and then we went out to these several dozen clients through all these focus groups.

As I sat there and listened to the accounts similar to what you provided, I realized that there’s so much of their day-to-day that they didn’t keep it from me. It wasn’t like it was hidden. It’s just there was no reason to share it. It was so eye-opening to get a better understanding of what the day-to-day is like. That’s, hopefully, what this program will do for all of our participants.

I did an episode with Dana Lira, who is at Warner Brothers. She said that on her first day, someone asked her something. She had come from a litigation background, and she said, “Nope, you can’t do that.” She got a call from a senior person. Thinking about my writing, it’s a different way of looking at legal issues at risk. At a law firm, you have the luxury of saying, “This is the law. You do what you want.” In-house, we can be that, but we have to say, “How do we get you to be able to do what you want?”

It’s funny because all the different dozens of people we spoke to are in different businesses and industries. For some of them, the realities of their jobs vary, but the core is very consistent. That’s what we’re providing.

What did they say?

There were 6 core elements on which we focused the modules, and then 16 specific study areas after that. The six core areas are understanding the business, financial acumen, risk management, legal operations, relationship building, and learning by influence. Even though we were dealing with people in healthcare, banking, food, energy, and textiles, this was consistent for all of them. I shouldn’t just talk about their industries. They’re also in companies and legal departments of extraordinarily different sizes and different roles inside those departments. It was great to see that consistency.

Before that, you didn’t have awareness of that?

If you had asked me, are any of these important? I would say yes, but I wouldn’t have been able to list all six for you and say, “These are the six.” There were 30 more that were identified, but these were the ones that came up the most.

Relationship Building

I can see that. I remember also being in an early board meeting and getting the financials, “Why am I looking at this? What’s important here?” being flat-footed, not ever having to have thought about the business in that way. It’s a great curriculum. You worked with the in-house counsel of your clients to develop the curriculum. What has that done for their relationships?

Both with the people who have worked with us and given us so much of their time, which I should stop for a moment to recognize the fact that this is time they don’t have. Busy people.

That time management wasn’t on there.

We’re not paying them for this. They’re not getting anything directly out of it. Their companies aren’t necessarily, to the extent that maybe we develop some candidates that someday will be good candidates for them, they’ll get something out of it. This is something that was the most inspiring part of this for me, where they were just giving of themselves.

A lot of them recognized how wonderful it would have been to have this as an option as they were exploring this possibility for their careers. As for many of them, we identified people knowing this to be the case with them and were committed to developing others who were trying to figure out their careers and paths. It was equal parts, recognizing in themselves how nice it would have been to have this and then genuinely wanting to help other people. That’s been so incredibly inspiring.

I mentioned to you when we talked that in a job that has challenges, as the chair of the firm, there are hard and mundane things, but this one always puts a smile on my face because of this commitment and real true spirit from these clients when I see it. How has the relationship changed? It’s become even more grateful for having the privilege to work with people like this. We value every client relationship we have for obvious reasons. It’s a wonderful conveyance of trust for a client to come to an outside council and say, “Please help me.”

To know that we’re working with people who are also so inherently good and committed to developing other people in their lives so that they can have the great fortune that they’ve gotten has led me to feel very close to them. We always will do what they need. If they call me and they need a contribution to a charity that’s important to them or service from the firm and something other than just legal services, they’re going to have it because it’s so impressive to be around so many impressive people.

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They are getting something out of it. That’s one of the reasons I started the show, quite frankly. There is blank space for professional development for lawyers, especially in-house. That contract review was one example of many where I stepped into it and didn’t know what I was doing. I thought I would be lawyering. In-house work is not lawyering. That’s the fundamental difference, and nobody told me that.

People here will learn it.

They will learn it so that they are getting something out of it. The process of doing the show has also had me reflect on my career and professional development in areas in which I can improve and grow. I do think maybe you’re short-selling it a little bit, but I do appreciate that you’re acknowledging the generosity that they’ve shown to the firm and your associates.

It’s been incredible. It’s not just the time they’ve already given to develop a curriculum. There’s a big commitment of time still coming, teaching the classes and having those mentoring relationships.

I bet they’re going to love it, though.

They will. That’s what’s been extraordinary. In response to the press release, lots of people who are not clients of ours but are in-house counsel have reached out.

This girl included.

You’re one of them. I said, “How can I help?” We’re incorporating them. Not just lawyers either, it’s been law schools and legal organizations, even competing law firms. It’s been great.

That’s where I want to take the conversation next. I’m not going to put anything bigger on it but in my experience, a lot of the relationship-building or business development activities that law firms’ outside counsel engage in have been very stale. “How many dinners am I going to where you’re asking me? What’s keeping you up at night? What’s on your desk now? What can I help you with?”

That’s more of a transactional conversation. I’m lighting up when you’re talking about how you understand what my job is. I know you do employment law. If I called him, he would understand when we’re trying to sever this executive, how it’s going to have all these ripple effects, and how I’m going to have challenges messaging that, for example. It’s such a richer way of building a relationship.

You hit it on the head. There’s no real training for how you build those networks of relationships and trust, but it has been historically exactly what you said. “Let’s go to dinner, a conference, or a ball game.” It does feel very transactional. There’s no doubt in my mind that the most fruitful and probably most efficient let’s call them professional relationships that I have with my clients have a real personal element to them in the sense that they understand the inner workings of the firm and the people who are helping them. I understand their teams as well. That takes time. It’s not immediate, but this is a good way to jumpstart that process.

The Legal Department | Joe Glynias Husch Blackwell | Big Law
Big Law: The most fruitful and efficient professional relationships have a real, personal element to them. Both parties understand the inner workings of the firm and the people who are helping them.

Back on the cohorts and the fact that the way you’re having the in-house mentors or faculty pair up, think also the in-house counselor is going to get to know your firm better that way. Also, they’re training the people that are going to be working on their matters potentially. I went to a new company, and I realized how I had taken for granted some of my long-term relationships with outside counsel.

When you work together for a long time or you go through tough times, they know you. There’s a book called The SPEED of Trust. I don’t know if you know that. Stephen Covey’s son wrote that, but you have that. You onboard a new firm, and you do have those awkward, clunky transactional conversations where you’re like, “I didn’t even realize how lucky I was.”

It’s the little things. It’s email or phone, short or long. “What’s the judgment to make on this call or that call? Who’s it going to impact if we make this decision?” You’re right, it takes time.

It’s not easy. We’re in a culture where it’s like, “Click hit. I’ve friended you or I’m connected with you on LinkedIn, and so now we have a relationship,” but it is making those investments and getting to know each other a little better.

I’ll talk to attorneys from time to time who are pretty puzzled as to why they haven’t had more success building client relationships because they see themselves, most times rightly but sometimes wrongly as exceptional legal service providers. “Why wouldn’t someone want to use me? I’m going to get them the best service or answer possible.” The fact that matters, there are lots of good lawyers out there.

There are lots of good law firms that are like ours. If the only thing that you provide is legal acumen, graveyards are full of those people. You’ve got to be able to differentiate yourself in a way that, at least for me, has been most gratifying following the path that you described. Having a relationship where you understand each other can have a cadence that allows everyone to operate at the highest efficiency. To be honest, it makes it a lot more fun.

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Career Pressures

I’m calling it the men are from Mars and the women are from Venus. It’s a total throwback. Many in-house lawyers have been at firms. You do have some awareness or recall of what that job was like, but I want to understand a little bit better. What are the pressures that law firm partners are dealing with? What’s the work like?

There was email, but it wasn’t that we weren’t using Google Docs. I interviewed a lawyer from Gibson Dunn and she talked about how challenging it was to deal with all the new tech ways of communicating at companies. I like to learn a little bit more about what you’re dealing with in terms of being a law firm partner.

Every firm’s a little different in that respect. I don’t pretend to know what it’s like to work at an AmLaw 20 firm where those pressures are probably different than one from mine. I would imagine it’s fairly consistent for all of us. This has to always be number one. We’re obsessed with trying to do our best for our clients at all times. It does require the legal acumen that I was somewhat diminishing a moment ago, but it certainly requires that. I’ll call that table stakes. To play the game, you’ve got to have that, but you have to use that well.

Delivering them great results and responsiveness,there is no question in my mind. I wish I could say that I and my team have been perfect on this record over time. We have not, we’re humans, but we try to be obsessed with being responsive because it seems to be the easiest way to lose a client. Being obsessed with doing well and responding all the time, and we live in a world where you can be contacted in a lot of different ways all the time.

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Being obsessed with making sure that the client walks away from the interaction, feeling good about having a relationship with you. From a client’s perspective, that’s always number one. That’s a constant thought in my mind. How are we doing on all three of those things to make sure that our client experience is the best that it can be?

From a partnership perspective, my role is a little different as the Chair, but even before, I’ve always taken the word partner very literally, not just a title on a law firm, but truly, are we serving each other in the best way that we can? How does that translate into law firm day-to-day? If a conflict issue comes up and it involves you reaching out to one of your clients, you do it and do it quickly because that other partner is trying to bring in some work, and that helps all of us. We want to be able to serve all those clients as well.

Sometimes that means we can’t take on the work, but you have that conversation, and you do it quickly so that you can be a good steward to your partners. When your partner brings in a type of work that plays on your expertise, you make yourself available so that your partner can serve his or her client in the best way that they can. Sometimes, that means having a team of people. That means that you’ve got to develop young people or at least more junior people.

Manage a team. None of us were trained on how to do that in law school.

Isn’t that the hardest thing for a great young lawyer? They’re great at being great, but then they got to be great at this other thing that isn’t the same. Getting them set as somebody else.

It’s the opposite thing because, if you remember from law school, we were all trying to compete to be the best, not to be the best team.

You’ve got to have all those things in place. I’m saying these in an order that doesn’t necessarily reflect the way that I prioritize them in my life, but you’re a family member. In most instances, you may have a spouse and kids. You try to balance that as well. All those things are challenges. Layer on top of that, we live in a world where the costs of everything go up every year, but we as outside counsel are sensitive to the pressures that our clients and the legal departments that we work with feel, so we can’t just be raising rates constantly all the time.

We try to keep those down, which requires that we lever the work down. Even though we’re a for-profit organization, we need to make money too. We try to do it in a way that isn’t burdensome for our clients. That necessarily requires that we have a lot of clients and a lot of work so that we’re not having to overcharge any single client to create that revenue for the firm. Take all of those things, and then you multiply it by all the different clients that you’re working with. That’s constantly there.

It sounds stressful. It sounds like a lot of different priorities all the time.

Maybe it makes me a little sick. I love it. Getting out of bed in the morning. As we sit here, I have no plans to ever stop because it gives my professional life some purpose and meaning. It’s a great connection to the topic that brought us together, which is to say, “It’s not the case for everybody.” Somebody will hear everything I said and say, “There’s no way I want that in my life.” Maybe HB in-house is a good path for them.

In-House Partners

I tend to be pretty self-reflective. As I was coming to a new job and developing new relationships, trying to bring in the old relationships, I realized I’m not always a good partner to my outside counsel. Maybe I can get some coaching from you on how to be better. One thing you described is we’re super busy. My head is on a swivel every day, and I don’t do the same thing two days in a row. No day is the same.

I might be asked about twenty different issues in a day, of which my knowledge is an inch deep and a mile wide. With that, sometimes my communication can be curt or incomplete. I shot off an email to Joe, “Joe, what’s the rule on alternative work schedules for ten-hour shifts or something like that?” I don’t give you any context. “Give me the answer, Joe. Joe, I’ve got this meeting, I’ve got to know.” That’s an example of where not that we worked together but made my outside counsel job easier. Any feedback on how we can do better as in-house partners to you?

I’ll lead off with I have a feeling you’re pretty great to your outside counsel partners because you were thinking along those lines to begin with. It would be the people who have no concern for that who probably fall into the bucket that you’re maybe unfairly casting yourself into but in terms of what can our clients do to assist their outside counsel. I’m going to start with something fairly lame, but probably what you said, having the self-awareness to want to be thoughtful about it. Having that intentionality is a critical piece of it.

The Legal Department | Joe Glynias Husch Blackwell | Big Law
Big Law: Having self-awareness and intentionality is critical in every relationship.

I believe that’s critical in every relationship. It’s a golden rule-type approach to how you deal with people. If people adopt that, that’s not just outside counsel. It’s subordinates, attorneys in your legal department, the legal assistant, and the people cleaning the kitchen where you go get your coffee. Thinking about what you can do to help other people is a huge first step to being a good partner to outside counsel.

After that, more specifically and technically, anytime you can give lead notice or advanced notice of a need for something. This is probably the most impractical thing that I’ll identify because that’s the way it goes. Someone walks into your office and says, “I need this right now.” That’s when you call me and say, “I need this right now.” That’s cool. We’ve signed up for that. That’s the job.

To the extent it’s possible, it certainly helps us move things around. When it’s not possible and it has to be done right now, if it’s possible to understand why, so much the better. Sometimes it does inform the delivery that I bring back to you. If it’s alternative work schedules, but I won’t know if it’s because someone, we’re having to cover an intermittent FMLA issue, or it’s the way we want to change if we’re doing business, that could impact the information that I give you in response.

Having at least a little bit of context is helpful because it can impact the service or at least the legal answer that’s given. If none of those things are possible, that’s fine, because we understand that’s the way it goes sometimes. Sometimes the text while you’re sitting in a board meeting may have typos and no punctuation, but that’s okay. We can get it.

When the dust settles, the opportunity circles back and says, “Thank you for being around.” That is not something that any of our clients owe us. That is not an obligation. We are here to provide all those services, but there’s a human element to all of us. To the extent that the human element can come out, that builds the bonds that are enduring over time. We have to do our best for all of our clients all the time. There’s an eagerness sometimes when you’ve got that relationship with a client to say, “I want to make sure that I’m taking care of Stacy.”

It’s funny you say that because that’s one thing that I try to do. I will give myself a pat on the back, but I do try to show appreciation. I’ve sent lawyers flowers. What I try to do is, especially if I’m working with an associate who doesn’t have a job, I always try to communicate with the partner on the case. A couple of times, I’ve gone to the head of the firm and said something, but I always do show appreciation. You used the word table stakes. That is a professional, courteous, important thing that we should all do all the time.

That’s remarkable that you do all that. I honestly meant it when I said, “Nobody owes that to us.” That’s the job we’ve signed up for, but for the people who can do it, it’s remarkable because you don’t have time for those things, but you made the time.

We’re in a relationship, and you did something for me. I shot that crazy text, which you weren’t even sure what I was what I’m asking. In terms of maintaining that relationship, it’s important. I want to thank you for even thinking of the in-house program. That shows an awareness on your part of seeing a need for your colleagues at the firm and also your clients.

That’s 100% right. It’s not just the clients who called me who need someone to come fill a spot. It’s also the clients that I’ve known for years who maybe got into the in-house role and it wasn’t right for them. The moment they chose it, it felt like they had to. Who knows what the different pressures were? Maybe it was the job itself. Maybe it was something going on in their family. Maybe it was just never wanting to write down their time again. Who knows?

It’s not reasonable to think that anybody would know what that job is like without experiencing it because, like you said, “We don’t get training in this.” After talking with some of them, who, that’s a little disheartening, think that they’ve spent the years 35 to 45 in their lives in a job that wasn’t right for them when they maybe could have made a better choice if they just got a little more information. That was one of the drivers for why we wanted to do this.

Career Advice

Let me circle back on an earlier part of our conversation. Since you are the chair of the firm and a partner, do you have advice for folks who may be in other firms where they’re not as forward-thinking as Husch Blackwell is on how to have that conversation with a partner that they work with that they may have in-house aspirations?

Maybe associates aren’t aware of this. You get a lot of leads for jobs. Your clients are calling you that either they need a secondment or they’re recruiting for an opening. There are the jobs that are posted, and then there’s what we would call a pocket listing in real estate. Maybe some advice for people who may be worried about those stigmas of raising the conversation.

You’re right. They’re the ones that are posted and the ones that are not. I love that term, pocket listing. What I would say to people who are working in firms that don’t have programs like this is that I believe that there are people at every one of those firms who probably feel the same way that this program reflects. I’ll lie to you too, there are people here who we’re still having to convince.

It’s not like we had 100% say, “Yes, finally somebody said it,” but I believe that those resources exist everywhere. I feel like I can say that is the response that we’ve gotten to this article. It’s not just been in-house lawyers. It’s been lawyers at other firms. I know they’re out there. It may not be immediately obvious to you who those people are, but if you’re in a position where you’ve been able to develop real relationships with people who have invested in you.

Maybe invest in your legal skills or your ability to develop clients or help manage their clients, but still invest in you in some way. I would hope that you’d have a sense that the people have done this in part because of the commitment they’ve got to you personally. I would take the chance and trust that they’re going to be professional enough to recognize that a good many people who enter this profession wind up going in-house and many times to their advantage.

If none of those things are there, maybe they’ll do it out of the goodness of their heart as good people and be someone who can help them along that path. Maybe the key is finding someone who has client relationships with people who have left that firm to be a client at that organization because those people ought to be well aware of the benefits that come with having good relationships with people who leave.

The Legal Department | Joe Glynias Husch Blackwell | Big Law
Big Law: Find someone who has client relationships with people who have left that firm to become a client of another organization. Those people are well aware of the benefits that come with having a good relationship with people who leave.

If it’s possible to crowdsource it and find more than one partner who you can rely on for this, then so much the better. We have one of our participants in the program coming up here next month, a former associate of mine. She took the chance and went to the partner she works with the most. This was back last October or November 2023, and said, “I’m thinking about an in-house job.”

We hadn’t announced it broadly yet but were aware of this program and said, “You need to talk to Joe.” She came and talked to me. We made a list of all the things she wants out of her career in 10 years and the things she doesn’t want out of her career in 10 years. I started having conversations with people who are in my network, and we ultimately found a job that was so perfect job for her. I’m jealous because I don’t even know that I’m in as perfect a job for me as she is for herself.

What a great thing, Joe. I have to say, you should feel good about that if you don’t already. That’s very generous. I don’t know that a lot of people would look at that conversation the way you did, but first of all, that’s one thing I love to do. I love matching people with what they want to do and what is needed in the market. That’s one of the best things in life.

It’s wonderful to be able to help people. At base, I hope that’s why all of us became lawyers, because that’s what the point of the job is, to advocate for someone else.

Pump-up Song

That’s why we’re on the show. Thank you so much. I could keep talking to you for a long time. We’re going to close with the same question I ask all guests. We’re both from St. Louis, so I’m hoping that there’s some Midwest connection here. What is your pump-up song?

It is the song Breath by Pearl Jam. I had the great good fortune and here’s your Midwest connection, to go play at the St. Louis Cardinals fantasy baseball camp several years ago. We got to pick our walk-up song. I spent months exploring all these different songs.

There was a lot of prep for this interview.

That’s right, but asking all my friends, “What do you think?” I finally came up with it and I love it. Breath by Pearl Jam.

Joe Glynias, thanks for being here. Kudos to you and Husch Blackwell for recognizing this important need in the market.

Stacy, thank you so much and for letting me be a part of this wonderful show. I appreciate it.

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About Joe Glynias

The Legal Department | Joe Glynias Husch Blackwell | Big LawAs an employment law attorney, Joe connects with clients, their businesses and their employees so he can provide the ongoing, custom guidance they deserve.

Joe concentrates much of his practice on the facets of employment law that regularly change, such as wage and hour collective/class actions under state and federal law. This developing, and often times state-specific, body of law offers new arguments and fresh approaches for Joe to seize as he vigorously advocates for his clients. He also counsels clients on the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), Department of Labor actions and discrimination laws.

Joe knows that most employers genuinely have their employees’ best interests at heart and want to promote a productive, satisfying work environment. However, there is often uncertainty within the evolving layers of employment law. From routine counseling to investigations and litigation, he is a trusted partner as clients navigate the labor and employment jungle.

After serving on the firm’s Executive Board from 2015-2022, where he played a major role in revising and modernizing the firm’s performance expectations and evaluation metrics, Joe became the firm’s chair, effective April 1, 2024.

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