Often, the role of in-house counsel is to say "no." Often known as the resident fun-sucker, in-house attorney is there to limit the company's exposure to risk.
But here's the thing: Risks are not only necessary for a company to thrive, they're crucial to survive. Doling out legal advice that is too risk averse can actually harm the longevity of the company. Here are three reasons why you should allow execs (and yourself) to take calculated risks:
1. If the company doesn't take calculated risks, risks will find it -- and devour the business.
A company must learn to confront risk to move forward. A static business is a business with a death wish. As in-house counsel, you're going to win some and you're going to lose some, but many of those risks will help the company improvise solutions along the way and propel it forward. We're not talking the glamorous binge-"Eating, Praying, Loving" kind of risk-taking. In fact, don't throw caution to the wind. Instead, think strategically: carefully weigh the odds of success, flesh out the worst possible consequences, and make a decision. It will be more a date with number crunching than a rendezvous with Italian food and ashrams, but it's worth it.
2. The company will face failure, so get familiar with it.
No matter what you do, your esteemed colleagues are going to face adversity at some point in the business. The natural state of business is change, so you might as well take the initiative (for once) to help guide the company. You should chart every reasonably foreseeable possibility, but an unexpected circumstance will still thwart you at some point. Taking risks will help you get comfortable with being in flux and adapting to new circumstances. Most importantly, it will help you successfully bounce back from failure.
3. It's fun.
Sure, you and your coworkers have your lunch-making and scheduling routine down to a T. But aren't you all a little bored? (C'mon, be honest.) Liven it up. One option is to gamify the office. Another is to propose fun (but legal) challenges to direct competitors. As Richard Branson wrote in a piece on risk-taking for Entrepreneur, "Aside from any business concerns, one of the main reasons my colleagues and I undertake any adventure is because it's fun, whether it's a bet [with a business competitor] that ends with me serving drinks to passengers in a skirt or whether it's one that leads to the creation of a company that transforms the space industry."
And who knows? Indulging a more mischievous streak might help open the door to a GC gig. How do you feel about that cardboard-flavored cup of low-fat soup in your hands now? Yeah, thought so.
Is there a professional risk you took recently that you feel pretty proud about? Let us know about it @FindLawLP on Twitter.
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