The Legal Department

Level-Up Contracting In The Legal Department With Laura Fredrick

The Legal Department | Laura Fredrick | Contracting Skills

Contracting is the “meat and potatoes” of in-house practice, but sometimes it seems to lack sizzle, yet Laura Fredrick disagrees. She’s so passionate about contracting that she founded How to Contract, a contract training business focused on helping lawyers and in-house contract teams learn real-world contracting skills. Laura is no stranger to in-house practice, having spent seven years leading Tesla’s contracting function, in addition to roles at other companies. These experiences honed her business skills, and she learned how the contracting process helps advance business goals. In this episode, Laura shares practical tips for managing risk in the contracting process and delivering value to the business and coaches me on how to get “pumped up” about contracting. She also grew her business almost entirely through posting on LinkedIn–every day for almost four years. She may not have a pump-up song, but her passion for contracting makes this a “must-listen” episode.

Listen to the episode here

Level-Up Contracting In The Legal Department With Laura Fredrick

I’m Laura Frederick. I’m the Founder and CEO of How to Contract. My fun fact is I had four boys in less than five years with no twins, all born in a different city with one on a different continent.

I’m thrilled to introduce Laura Frederick, who is the Founder and CEO of How to Contract, which is an organization that helps support lawyers and others in their contracting journey. Laura, how are you? 

I’m awesome. How are you doing? 

I’m doing great. You got on my radar screen because you are a prolific poster. We’re going to get into that on LinkedIn a little bit later, but you have developed this really strong niche in the contracting space. As a former in-house attorney, it’s a core function of the in-house practice. I want to talk about that. It’s not a career journey show but I do want to give a little bit of background because you’ve been there, done that in the in-house world. Can you just talk a little bit about your in-house experience?

Laura’s In-House Experience

I was in law firms for the first nine years of practice. Then I went in the house and was looking, I went from San Francisco, a Big Law company, to Allentown, Pennsylvania, where we walked in the door at 9:00 and left at 5:00. It was a wonderful transition. I stayed and worked in renewable energy for 14 years in the house.

I always stayed in my commercial contracts roles. I had opportunities to advance, to take on other responsibilities. I always said no, because at the end of the day, I love contracts and I loved my job. I thought that if I had to do all this other stuff too, that’ll take me away from working on the fun stuff. Why would I do that? I stuck with what I love, which is contracts. 

In the 14 years in-house, you said you were at energy companies. I know you were at SolarCity, which was eventually acquired by Tesla. Were you always in over-contracting? That was the main potato of your job. Did you run a team?

Yes, I did all of that. I was always in commercial contracts, which I define as buying, selling, and licensing. I came from a tech transaction training background. That’s what I did in law firms. When I went in-house, I usually took over that function. In most of my in-house jobs, I was in charge of supply chain contracting, but I also took on other roles, sales ops, and supporting sales teams. 

I took on legal department management, hiring a legal ops person who worked for me in, I don’t know how long, that was 12 years ago. It was really when the position was very new to the world. The most interesting thing I did was when I was at Tesla, I was in charge of all our global environmental commodity contracts. This was Tesla selling at zero-emission vehicle credits, greenhouse gas credits, and all of those kinds of things was a fantastic job.

Like a frontier unfolding before you, right? 

It was, and it was global. Our small team of five people ran it all and I was the lawyer on the team. We had done all the contracts with all the automakers and other companies around the world who didn’t have these emission commodity credits but needed them for compliance. I loved it. That was so much fun. 

Again, I wanted to just say you’ve been there, done that. You talked about working with the sales team and certainly when you’re running supply chain commercial contracts, the business is depending on you. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about how that informed your approach to contracting. You learned what is important to the business, I think.

Exactly. It was very different when I was in law firms because I spent nine years doing commercial contracts, and tech transactions for business clients, but based in a law firm. When I first went in-house, it was such an eye-opener because the content was the same in these provisions, but the whole mindset, the whole work style, the whole how you do your job, and what it is to do your job was so different being in-house versus outside counsel. 

When I went in-house, it was a big mind shift that we were focused on the corporate goals of protecting us from risk, making sure the solution we bought worked, and making a profit on this deal if we were on the sales side. My goals were very aligned with the business, whereas, in a law firm, you’re trying to do a really good job on the contract. 

When you’re in-house, the contract is the means to an end, but it’s not the goal. Your goal isn’t to have this beautiful contract that’s perfect. Your goal is to manage risk and you do that with a contract. That became more fun because I was more I was on the team in the trenches with my technical team, my business team, my salesperson, or whatever it was. I was part of that team and I just loved the ability to work side by side with the business teams to achieve their goals.

I know from just following your posting and knowing some of the events and trainings that you do that you took that experience and then you’ve provided a way to translate that for all people that do contracting. I do want to pause just on that transition from the firm to in-house because I do think as you were talking about when you’re in the firm, it’s about the contract. I just feel and I can even picture when you push send on that email, you’re like, “I’m done. Here’s your attachment.” 

Exactly, and it’s like, “Good luck.” When they assign, you’re done, unless, God forbid, there’s a dispute over it. I had one of those comebacks where there was a patent infringement litigation filed with a transaction I had done. That was the scariest thing ever because it was like, “I hope I did it right.”

You don’t know until the judge says. 

However, in a house, you find out regularly because typically when you’re working on contracts and support and supply chain or sales, things start to go wrong, which is a lot, and very often, you’re the one they come back to. 

“Why did we do it this way? What does this mean?” 

Or, “How do we fix this?” At least the companies I worked at were much less focused on pointing fingers, “You did this.” That’s one of the things I about contracts because there’s no one right answer. We negotiate these contracts. It’s a give-and-take. You have to look at the totality of the circumstances. A lot of times you’re accepting terrible language because you don’t have a choice and you got to get the deal done. And the risk of not doing the deal is worse than the risk of accepting this language. It’s nice because if something blows up later, you’ll say, “We did the best.” 

The Legal Department | Laura Fredrick | Contracting Skills
Contracting Skills: There’s no one right answer in contracts. We negotiate these contracts. It’s a give-and-take.

Let’s pause on this as a teaching point, especially for lawyers who are new to an in-house role. I shared this example recently. I remember one of my first projects when I was at USC, someone gave me a contract for one of the schools and it was really deep and I’m just doing my law firm thing, and marking it all up. When I send it back to the client, their mouth drops. What am I supposed to do with this? I’m hoping we can talk about what are some tips and coaching for people moving in-house about how to risk stratify. Why do you pick your battles and why you do suck it up with bad language sometimes.

A lot of it goes back to risk management. That’s a concept they don’t teach when you’re in law firms because you’re just focused on the transaction. How you draft an indemnity and how you handle the assignment provisions. The focus is there but when you’re in-house, you work on contracts and most roles are all about risk management. How are you managing the risks facing the company? How do you identify those risks? How do you prioritize those risks? 

My advice for people moving in-house is to learn about the company’s risks and learn about what opportunities you have to manage and mitigate those risks. Then take that as your context for the contract. Let’s say I’m signing this baby hotel agreement. We’re going to use their conference room and have some meetings or whatever. It’s a terrible language. They always are. Those are the worst. 99% of the time we just sign as they are because at the end of the day, what’s the worst thing that’s going to happen? 

Someone twists an ankle. 

Someone tripped and then we’ve got insurance, personal injury stuff. Typically we can look to insurance policies, whether the hotel or our own. “It’s not the end of the world, nothing terrible is going to happen.” I think of it in that context. I usually look at a couple of different things when I’m thinking about that risk. One is value. Two is, “What are my company’s goals and priorities?” 

If this is a contract to buy some marketing software, but my company is in FinTech. I’m not as worried about that one. If it doesn’t perform, we go get another one. If my company is in FinTech, then this is some master management software that we’re going to run the whole company on, I don’t take the bad language. We fight to the death and we make sure the contract is protecting us when it’s a mission-critical item. 

I think we all get a vibe, we get the vibe, we learn the company but have you in your past, been clear and explicit with the business about, “These are the things I’m focusing on?” One thing I think lawyers, even if we are in a team environment, you are sort of thinking, “I don’t want to mess up. I don’t want it to be my fault.” There is a blame culture that comes from law firms that just sticks with us. Have you been more explicit with those parameters with business teams? 

Your Contracting Skills

How I was trained and what I believe is that legal is, of course, part of the team, but we’re an advisor. We only know especially if you’re in this contracting role. I’m not talking about general counsel, but if you’re in a contracting role, you know about the risks relating to what you see. Your little circle of influence that you work in and that you operate in, you know all about that stuff. 

There are other things at the company, other risks, or other challenges that you aren’t tuned into. My belief was it wasn’t my job to make the final risk call. My job was always to advise the client, make sure they were aware, and work with them on their priorities. If there was a really risky thing that I thought they were making the wrong decision about, I raised my hand, I talked to my general counsel, I talked to the VP in the group, or whatever I needed to do. 

At the end of the day, my voice is just one of the voices that go into these business transactions. Often they’ll have terrible, terrible language in there. They’ll agree to some cap on liability that they never should agree to. As long as the appropriate person who makes the decision has the authority to make that decision, then to me, that’s theirs to make. 

I’ll talk to them about the risks I see as their counselor, as their advisor. That’s my job. It’s not to decide in a lot of cases. Now, sometimes it is to decide when the company wants me to decide but most of the companies I’ve been in, that’s not the case. The lawyers typically don’t decide everything. We might make a call.

The Legal Department | Laura Fredrick | Contracting Skills
Contracting Skills: Our job is to act as their counselor or advisor. It’s not to decide in most cases.

Sometimes, they want you to. “Just do it for me.” The hotel contracts. At one point I just said that we’re not doing those anymore. The risk is someone got hurt there and there’s insurance for it and we’re just going to fight about it. It’s such a remote problem that it’s just not worth the calorie burn to do it. You also mentioned who has authority. 

I think this is an important point just to pause on for a moment. Again, for people who are maybe new to an in-house role. It’s somewhat of a mystery. What is this job? who can make these decisions? That’s one thing that people need to do, is to determine who has authority for different decisions in any matter, but certainly in contracting. 

Yes, and there are a lot of ways you can use your managing skills when the internal business person that you’re working with on a contract is making really bad decisions about the risk. Again, there are decisions I don’t necessarily agree with, but I recognize the value and the reason for it, as opposed to decisions that I just know are wrong. 

When those happen, I don’t even like to just go over their head. Most people decide this way, maybe this is something to talk to your manager about, and let’s get them involved in the conversation about it. Usually, I try to start where I’m not even involved. I let them talk to their manager, and that way I’m not the bad guy.

You’re not the hall monitor.

Yes, you have to preserve those relationships with your internal teams. That’s such a critical part of so many in-house roles, especially for the contracting roles. 

I think that’s right. When I partner with the business folks, I’ve tried to coach them, “I’m sure you can make this decision, but you might want to let Julie know just in case or keep an email on that because it seems a little different than we’ve handled it in the past.” 

I had a great general counsel and he gave me a lot of good advice. One of them was, and it sounds a little bit obnoxious when I say it, but it was a guiding principle for me which is, “The business team can make all the decisions as long as they make the right ones.” What that translated to for us was if we saw the business making a decision that we disagreed with, our job was to tell our manager, whoever was in the legal department. Then if my boss, the deputy GC, thinks that’s a big deal, he’ll bring it to the GC because I tended to be in these bigger companies where there were lots of layers. 

I always liked that because it kept me focused on what’s the right thing to do for the company. I’m an important resource within the company. I have a perspective and an insight into how the company is working where I can see risks at the very beginning before anything happens. The GC doesn’t see those. They don’t have the opportunity necessarily because they’re not on the front lines of these commercial contracts. It was always a big part of my responsibility to make sure I floated those up.

You are sort of the eyes and the ears. Things get on your desk in any number of ways, but as a GC, you would love to have the heads up before it becomes a lawsuit. Your passion for this area comes through. When we were talking before I shared, that I am not always the most enthusiastic about certainly the commercial contracts and I said, the meat and potatoes of how business is done. You do have a passion for it. I guess I want a little bit of coaching on how can I get myself pumped up. This is a key part of the business, but it’s not as sexy as maybe some of the other things we work on. 

As a General Counsel, you're the eyes and ears. You would love to have the heads up before it becomes a lawsuit. Share on X

I think you see it as you are building the business because a business is about relationships. They hire people, they work with vendors, they sell to customers, unless you’re a bank or some other kind of institution, at the end of the day, those business relationships are really what build the business and build the success or the failure.

As contract lawyers, we are on the front lines of that. We are determining with our contract whether these relationships will be successful or not. Not 100%, of course, the business teams have some say in that as well, but we can influence that. I love being in the center of that and having that responsibility to promote the business’s success. 

I also find it’s a lot of teamwork and having an adversary, even when you’re friendly and everything’s nice in the negotiation and it’s all win-win and all that stuff, but it’s still me and my business lead against them. “How are we going to negotiate this concept?” “They want to do this.” “My God, I can’t believe that.” “No, let’s change it this way.” After the calls, “What did you think?” “My God, I can’t believe they said that.” 

I love that part of it, and you get that in a way because you’re on the same side versus sometimes when I worked with, for example, compliance folks, that’s not their job. Their job is compliance and working with the teams to help them achieve compliance but when you’re on the business side, you’re more like that best friend kind of person who’s helping them achieve it.

You’re like the co-pilot, like a wingman.

Exactly. The last thing I’ll say is the creativity and the drafting. When you are new to contracts and you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s so overwhelming. This is a lot of why I started my business because you don’t know what it means. There’s no creativity because you don’t have the skill set and understanding of how to get creative. 

Once you cross that threshold, you start to see, “If I change this word, this is a lot better for my company.” “If I change this approach we’re protected if this happens.” That strategy and gamesmanship and creativity that goes into crafting contracts that achieve the business goals. There’s a little bit of, “Maybe they won’t change it if I put it this way.” strategy too. Those are all the things that I love about doing contracts. 

There’s more I want to go into but one question that’s been on my mind. You mentioned earlier that you hired a legal operations person. I think one of the reasons I feel dispassionate about contracts is because there’s such a volume and it can be overwhelming. When you’re talking about being side-to-side with the business, strategizing, and all that, it sounds awesome and fun. However, when you said that, I thought that I’ve got a queue that is just growing and growing, and as much as I want to spend time with Julie’s plan to take over the world, I still have 15 other people who want something. Do you have suggestions for managing that immense need? The inbound as I call it.

The same general counsel who told me that business people can decide what they want as long as they’re right is also a big advocate for A-level effort for A-level work, and C-level effort for C-level work. That is exactly what our job is, to do a worse more casual, less thorough job on low-risk, low-value contracts that don’t affect critical operations. The best thing I would say is to figure out what those are and accept some risk that lawyers are not going to be reviewing $10,000 hotel contracts. 

That’s what I did. I said, “I don’t care.” If we get sued because somebody falls down the stairs, so be it. We’ll deal with that when it comes.

That’s the best way. What I’ve seen is general counsels who insist on a lawyer reviewing every document before it’s signed. It’s a non-starter. You can’t do that. The beautiful thing is supply chain teams are passionate about compliance and following rules. It’s their nature. It’s one of the reasons I love working with supply chains is because they’re not the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants. Sales folks are like that. Supply chains are rule followers. If you say, “Anytime the contract does this, tell me.” Now during my in-house years, we relied on people. Now you have so many screening tools with AI functions that we can do better and more thorough screening without even having a person involved. 

The Legal Department | Laura Fredrick | Contracting Skills
Contracting Skills: Supply chain teams are passionate about compliance and following rules.

What’s an example of one of those tools? 

I created a screening AI set company called Screens, which is related to Term Scout. Term Scout has a platform that reviews online terms. You can upload your terms and it grades it against a playbook. Screens are a little different. I gave them what should a low-risk NDA not have. What’s the red flag in a low-risk NDA? I think we ended up with 27 things you do not want to see in your low-risk NDA. If it has it escalated to a lawyer. 

That becomes like a checklist.

Depending on the skillset of the frontline person, you could give that to them and you don’t even need human eyes on it. If it passes it, you’re good. Again, there’s always that risk that they worded something weird that the AI didn’t pick up. If it’s a low-risk relationship, what’s the real risk there? 

It can be a C-level effort. 

The other thing I’ll say, I think lawyers should think of themselves as emergency room doctors when they’re working on contracts. You do not spend an hour working on the guy with a cut finger. You do spend an hour working on somebody who’s teetering on death. In the same way, as lawyers, we have to be diligent in protecting our time and making sure that we don’t get sucked into those low-risk things. 

As lawyers, we have to be diligent in protecting our time and making sure that we don't get sucked into those low-risk things. Share on X

That requires management, whether it’s legal department management or company management, to be okay with that risk and know just like what you were saying, where you have those conversations up front, we’re not going to look at these things. Making sure as a company, there’s some consensus there. If you can do that, you’re going to be so much more effective in protecting the company and managing your risks, if you are focusing on triaging. 

Yes, you could spend an hour on the guy with the cut finger, you could sit with him, talk about it, and do all those things but it’s taking you away from saving somebody else. If you think of yourself as that resource of the company, even if you feel spending a long time with the guy with the cut finger, it’s just not appropriate for you with your level of expertise and your being a lawyer at the expense that the company spends on you to work on little low-risk things. 

I wish there was a way for folks to learn this before they go in-house. I just interviewed Tim Reimers, who’s a partner at Shepherd Mullen, and he talked about how the client expects a perfect work product and we do. When you’re paying for outside legal services, you expect a turnkey product. That skill set does not translate to an environment where we’re choosing between we’re going to be A-level work and C-level work. Guess what? I was trained and I’m always an A student. I’m giving you 110% on anything you put on my plate. That is a hard thing to unlearn, I think. 

I haven’t announced it yet. I don’t even know if I mentioned it to you. but the big thing that I’m working on for the summer is a course called Commercial Contracts Accelerator. It’s got six hours of training exactly that. Nothing about indemnity provisions and confidentiality, not the substance. If you are a lawyer who spent 10 years in law firms doing tech transactions and you’re going in-house, this is six hours of everything you need to know to be an in-house lawyer working on commercial contracts. It’s needed. I’ve been wanting to do it for a long time. I didn’t have the content built up. I didn’t want to do it until I was ready. I felt that I had gained that expertise and training and felt clear about what I could say. I feel I’ve reached that point at this point after three years of running this business. 

If you are a lawyer spending ten years in law firms doing tech transactions, everything you need to know to be an in-house lawyer working on contracts is needed. Share on X

It is the perfect jumping-off point to talk about how to contract. I’ve watched it and I’ve seen you do webinars and other content around technical areas. It sounds dorky and I don’t know if I would have time for it but I know you recently did or you have an upcoming session on Indemnification Provisions. If anything screams lawyer. If anything says, “Laura, you’re supposed to decide this. It’s that. It’s those.” Maybe talk about why you went from in-house at a major company to having your own business that’s focused on, I guess, the love of your life of contracting. 

It’s a different path. I left Tesla in January 2019 and I opened up my law firm. That was my first big leap into it. I ran that and that was great. Then the pandemic hit in the summer of 2020 and I had to find clients for my law firm. I knew about thought leadership as a way to market yourself. I started posting these tips on LinkedIn so that I could show how much I knew about contracts, thinking that would bring me clients for my law firm.

It did, but there was such a hunger in the community on LinkedIn for the technical tips that I was explaining, where they’re not hard, I don’t think. They’re just common sense that people have been doing it for a long time, no, but nobody ever wrote it down or explained it. I took the tips and I put it into a book and that sold crazy. 

Did you have time because it was the pandemic and there’s no travel and there’s no events? You just decided, “I’m going to whip up a contracting book.” What’s it called so that people can get it? 

Practical Tips on How to Contract

It’s called Practical Tips on How to Contract. The first edition that I published in 2020 had 91 tips, and it was just tips from the LinkedIn that I posted. I just republished a collection. It was really easy to make, but it was short. It’s not super substantive because people were asking, “Can you send me a PDF with all these tips? Can you do that?” I said, “Let me just self-publish, then anybody can grab it.” One of the hallmarks of my posts is I have a funny, silly cartoon for every contract tip. The first book didn’t have any of those cartoons because I did not start creating them until later in 2021 was really when I adopted that. It took a long time to get there to create those cartoons. 

By the way, did you draw the cartoons? Did you teach yourself how to be a cartoonist? 

The way that came around was I started posting tips with no image on LinkedIn. Then people were telling me that it’ll have more traction if you put an image. I went on Canva and I downloaded a picture of a warehouse with boxes and I’d have that as the image. I said, “At least it’s got an image.” Then I started using stick figures and they were terrible. I look at the old ones and they’re so bad. I just stuck stick figures with a dollar sign next to them or something like that.

I started creating dialogue on it and then it turned into these elaborate scenes with lots of pieces and somebody described it as the Michael Bay of legal cartoons because I would create these scenes. We hadn’t mentioned this, I started posting every day on August 03, 2020, and because I was posting every day, everything was faster. 

What do you mean everything was faster?

My skills and development were faster in terms of Canva and creating graphics because I had 120 days of posting before I even had anything with captions. The first three months of cartoons were terrible, that’s 90 cartoons. It wasn’t until I had all that practice, that 10,000 hours thing that I got pretty good, and then I kept getting better because I posted every day. 

LinkedIn Post

Let’s pause for a second. You had a post recently, and I know you’ve been continuing to post, but I think it was a couple of months ago. You said, “I’ve posted every day for, it was three and a half years, and it was 1,300 some odd LinkedIn posts.” Did you enjoy doing that? Did you feel compulsive to do it? “I’m doing this for my business.” That’s a lot.

It was. Something in me was the rule follower and if I set a rule for myself, I have to do it. Of course, I don’t go to exercise. I wish I could obey my rules on that, but it doesn’t work like that in my head. I loved it because there were a lot of reasons. The whole reason I went on LinkedIn and started was to attract clients for my law firm.

My law firm, I continued to operate until about a year and a half ago when I closed that down. That was a big part of it because I got a lot of clients, and I grew to five lawyers. It was a very successful, profitable business. All I had to do was post every day and spend a little bit of time chatting with people online. They also became great friends. 

There’s a close-knit group of people who are involved in these contract posts and contract-related content. We all got to know each other and it was so much fun. I got to go online every day with my friends. I created one year and a little bit more of the original posts. I have about 380 contract tips, each with an original cartoon. 

After a year, I started republishing because we all know you can repurpose content. Even though I was publishing every day then I didn’t have to create a new post. I was still posting on other things. I did a lot of discussions just because it was how I got people into my business. When I started my business, it was the main form. I’ve never paid for advertising for my business. 

I’m going to come back to your law firm and why you switched to the training business. I promote the podcast only on LinkedIn, and I’m not that great at it. I’m looking for someone to help me with my LinkedIn, and maybe Laura, you can coach me through it but I was curious what did you learn when you were doing all these posts? You learned, “I can repurpose my content. It’s a great pipeline for relationships, friends, and business.” What else did you learn about yourself or the business of LinkedIn?

Authenticity

I learned to stop taking myself so seriously and to be so paranoid about what people think of me, especially when I started doing cartoons, I’m a serious lawyer charging a lot per hour. No one’s going to take me seriously if I do all this ridiculous stuff. I was resistant to it in my head. Then I learned that people identify better with me because I’m real.

People identify better with me because I'm real. So, I learned to let go of my inhibitions and bring my real self. Share on X

I look at all my old videos and images and they’re all, “My God, my hair was so terrible.” My tone, I used to talk about this when I did things and I learned, that’s not me. The real me is a lot more full of life and energy and all that stuff, especially with something I love. I’d learned to just let go of my inhibitions and just bring my real self. Also shared with people issues and challenges and problems that I started talking a lot about my journey because I had this very successful career, but a crumbling marriage, lots of tragedies at home, health issues with my kids. 

There were so many problems that I was dealing with and I always just put on a smiling face at work and did my best. With LinkedIn, I started to talk about what I learned from that process and the therapy I went through. Not only did it help me as a person, but it made me a much better lawyer and much better at working with my teams and even doing negotiations because I understood myself. 

I understood the other people, I had better control of my emotions, and all that good stuff. I think it’s been a process of accepting who I am and being more transparent with the world. I think that made a huge difference on LinkedIn, especially now with AI, people just put up AI posts and they do blog posts on their websites from AI because it’s got some keywords. People can tell they’re not real. 

You probably can. Isn’t that weird how you can feel it differently? 

I’d say to be careful about having somebody run your LinkedIn. I’ve never done it. I’ve never let anybody touch my LinkedIn posts. I do on my company side, but not my personal, because you can also tell if somebody has an assistant. 

I don’t necessarily need someone to post for me. I need somebody to help me. This is my therapy session. I love doing the podcast, but it’s a lot of work. I do go through these ebbs and flows about, “Do I want to keep doing it?” I haven’t made it part of my profile. There are a lot of good nuggets in this process that I haven’t promoted. I’m looking for more of a thought partner and then also someone technically, because I’m not doing creator mode, for example. As you were saying, “I’m a little apprehensive. If I do that, what’s going to happen?” 

The one advice I’d say is it comes back to why you’re doing it. If you’re doing it for fun and to share knowledge with other people, does it matter? I see people who want to try and build and they hire different people and they’re creating all this different stuff, but they don’t have a clear vision of why they’re doing it. 

I did it all because I wanted to have people buy my stuff. This is how I make a living. I always say I’m 50% money, 50% mission because this opportunity to help people with a part of their career and life that can be very difficult and stressful with a lot of imposter syndrome and they’re working on contracts so they don’t know what they’re doing.

I see that as a lot of my role too. If you are here to build a brand so that you can take it to the next step or you want to sell something in the future or things that, then it’s worth hiring a bunch of people to do it all. If you’re just here for fun, do as much as you can for fun and then figure out whether it’s worthwhile. You know, the more money, the more problems. More people, more problems. 

That’s right. Maybe I’ll do it. If I’m terrible at it, I would call to action, but maybe I’ll ask the audience, “What do you want me to do with this?” I do get a lot of good feedback for it. As you said, I feel I’m being of service to all lawyers, but particularly my brethren of the in-house lawyers. If folks have ideas, please email me at Hello@LegalDepartmentPod.com. Laura, in the last couple of minutes, I want to talk a little bit more about the How To Contract, what offerings there are, and where people can find you. 

My website is HowToContract.com. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Laura Frederick. You can find the book on Amazon. Just type up Laura Frederick, How To Contract, or any of that. How To Contract, is focused on helping people learn how to do things in the real world. This isn’t an academic case law-based analysis. This is on-the-job training. 

The Legal Department | Laura Fredrick | Contracting Skills
Practical Tips on How to Contract: Techniques and Tactics from an Ex-BigLaw and Ex-Tesla Commercial Contracts Lawyer.

I looked at what I know as a fifth-year lawyer and what do I know now? I tried to explain the delta there. Most experienced lawyers, actually the majority of the people who purchase stuff from me have 10 years and more of experience, either as a contract manager or a lawyer. What they use it for is confirmation and to refresh their knowledge. 

That’s a lot of what I’m selling. I’m not selling to law students to teach them from scratch. I’m selling to people and serving people who have a little bit of experience, but enough to know what they don’t know. They want someone to help them fill that gap and fill in the blanks that they don’t know. I got the benefit of being in big law for a long time and having amazing partners who are super experts and train me on how to do it. I love taking that training and translating it into something that people can use for their job every day.

As I said, there are webinars. Follow you on LinkedIn. Don’t you also have a membership or something? 

Yes, we have a membership with over 80 hours worth of training in there. The easiest way is to sign up for the newsletter. Each week in my newsletter, I share all the tips from LinkedIn from the past week with a link. Even if you’re not on LinkedIn much, you can go read those, as well as discounts for our programs. We share other contract training options available, lots of different things. I think the newsletter is a big way I serve by sharing that information that way. 

Lots of fun offerings. Thank you for being in The Legal Department. You did get me more pumped up for contracting. I appreciate that. My last question, which I ask everybody, is another pump-up question. What is your pump-up song? 

This is one I’ve been asked before, and I don’t have one. I may be the only person on planet Earth who doesn’t have a pump-up song. I think it’s funny because it’s also in part of me because I used to make one up, just throw one out there. I realized that’s not true. Why am I being false? Anyway, I proudly say the truth now. I don’t have one. What song do I like? There’s not one in particular. 

I’ll take it. My husband doesn’t like music, which people are always stunned by that. I accept your answer. I accept those terms. Thanks for coming to The Legal Department, Laura, I enjoyed it. 

I did too. Thank you so much for having me. 

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About Laura Fredrick

The Legal Department | Laura Fredrick | Contracting SkillsLaura loves everything about contracts. And she loves helping others learn about contracts so they discover the same kind of joy.
Laura spent the last 25+ years practicing law across the globe from San Francisco to Singapore. Learning the ropes at international firms such Morrison & Foerster turned into leading commercial deals at Fortune 500s like Tesla. In each role, she focused on learning the ins and outs herself and helping her clients and coworkers understand contract nuances. After working for others her whole career, in 2019 she went to work for herself. She practiced in her boutique law firm for five years, closing shop in December 2023 to focus full-time on How to Contract.
While Laura was successful in-house commercial contracts attorney, she spent her life focused on her work and her kids. That changed in August 2020, when Laura began sharing daily contract tips as part of a 30-day challenge of posting on LinkedIn. Her posts were an immediate success. She started adding to each post a self-made funny cartoon that quickly became her trademark.
Following the success on LinkedIn, Laura published two editions of her Amazon bestseller on contracts – “​Practical Tips on How to Contract” – that has sold over 7,000 copies. The book has been embraced by several law schools and law school professors.
In March 2021, Laura launched How to Contract, a contract training business focused on helping lawyers and in-house contract teams learn real-world contract skills. In the years since, she’s delivered 100+ hours training to thousands of lawyers and professionals around the world. How to Contract has become the go-to solution for lawyers and professionals wanting real-world training on contracts.
Laura added workshops and a training conference. The first conference (under the prior name How to Contract Conference) was virtual only due to Covid. Laura followed that up in February 2023 with the first in-person conference under the name ContractsCon. Over 200 people attended in person and 400 people virtually. Now ContractsCon has moved to Las Vegas and the conference was available virtually worldwide in January 2024.

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