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The (Sometimes) Lonely Side Of In-House – Above the Law

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I feel like I’m going to get a lot of ridicule for sharing this, and my inner insecure people-pleaser is bracing herself for the inevitable trolling, but I’m going to go for it …

Being in-house can be lonely at times.

Before “All By Myself” by Celine Dion cues up, let me explain.

I’m not talking about actually being alone, although some of my colleagues who are the only attorney in-house at their respective companies may certainly have reason to feel that way — especially if they used to be a part of a big firm.

Rather, I’m talking about the feeling-alone-in-a-crowded-room kind of lonely. The kind of lonely you can feel despite getting many invitations for coffee, lunch, happy hour, or fun events. And it is directly tied to your role as in-house counsel or sometimes, the brand recognition of the company for which you work.

In other words, many of us are aware that it is highly likely that the reason why we receive these invitations is not for who we are, but because we are a client or prospective client. That you want to hang out with us not because of our wit or wisdom but because you hope to gain our business. That you ask us to join your committee or to speak, not because of our unique skills or contributions but because our company’s name recognition will draw support.

Don’t get me wrong. That isn’t a complaint — or even a criticism. For many of us, keep those invitations coming! At the same time, the purpose of this post is to provide an authentic peek into what it can feel like, at times, being in-house. And perhaps a bit of explanation for why some of us may hesitate in accepting many of those invitations, regardless of how enticing they may be. And even extrapolated further, perhaps why we hang out mostly with other in-house counsel or nonlawyers.

There may be fewer invitations, but at least we know that the requests are for the pleasure of our company — and not association with our company.


Meyling Mey Ly OrtizMeyling “Mey” Ly Ortiz is in-house at Toyota Motor North America. Her passions include mentoring, championing belonging, and a personal blog: TheMeybe.com. At home, you can find her doing her best to be a “fun” mom to a toddler and preschooler and chasing her best self on her Peloton. You can follow her on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/meybe/). And you knew this was coming: her opinions are hers alone.

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