Life as a lawyer at Tesla
A Texas-based lawyer and entrepreneur recently discussed her experience of working at one of the world’s most talked-about companies.
Speaking recently on The Corporate Counsel Show, Laura Frederick — the founder and president of How to Contract, who also runs her own firm in Austin, Texas, is a best-selling author and LinkedIn influencer — revealed what life was like as a lawyer at Tesla, prior to her starting her own practice.
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During her two years as senior commercial counsel at Tesla, she provided support for the supply chain, operations, and engineering as part of the commercial group within Tesla Legal. In addition, she drafted and negotiated contracts for the purchase of equipment, components, and services for solar power systems.
“It’s not for everyone, for sure. There are lots of people who wouldn’t be a good fit for Tesla,” she commented.
She later became the lead attorney for the sale of all Tesla vehicle-related environmental regulatory credits in the United States, Canada, Europe, and China.
“There wasn’t that good, old boy network that I saw in other companies, the cliques, the friend groups that protect each other,” Ms Frederick said.
Whilst emphasising the idea people get ahead based on their own merits, Ms Frederick opened up about never being a part of the world of cliques.
“I loved that I could call anybody in the company. You didn’t have to worry about all the strange stuff that happens in these big companies, because it was a flat organisation,” she pointed out.
“I always like the bigger companies. And with bigger companies that have larger legal departments, they allow for specialisation. I worked for a small start-up once, and that was enough for me. I was very uncomfortable with the lack of rules; everybody kind of free-fall, free-flowing what they’re doing. I like rules, structures, and everybody following the rules.”
She discovered that Tesla was a very fast-moving company with little bureaucracy compared to other businesses. She shared that decisions were made regarding very significant matters quickly.
“Because they hired exceptional people, they had faith in everyone’s ability to do the job well,” she said.
Commenting on the company’s trust in its employees, Ms Frederick said: “I operated really well under it. And I believe that was one of the most important lessons I’ve learned, that if you have great people working for you, you can trust them to do their jobs.”
This sense of trust motivates everyone to do an excellent job for the client and co-workers, as everyone is counting on you.
“Everybody in their roles was amazing. Because they have so many people who want to work there, they can pick and choose who,” she outlined.
“We have the responsibility of the world on our shoulders,” she reflected. “It was thrilling to be a part of and contribute to the success of a company like Tesla.”
The transcript of this podcast episode was slightly edited for publishing purposes. To listen to the full episode with Laura Frederick, click below: