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Why in-house lawyers must prioritise freedom

Laura Frederick explains why having freedom, autonomy, and flexibility over your life as a lawyer is so important that she left her position as senior commercial counsel at Tesla, one of the most-talked-about companies around the world.

user iconKeonia Cole 27 September 2022 Corporate Counsel
Why in-house lawyers must prioritise freedom
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Ms Frederick, founder of How to Contract and managing attorney at her own firm in Austin, Texas, Laura Frederick Law, spoke recently on The Corporate Counsel Show. She is also a best-selling author and influential LinkedIn member, who previously worked for large law firms in the United States and was a senior attorney at Tesla.

Reflecting on her stint as an in-house lawyer at one of the world’s most-talked about companies, Ms Frederick said, “I loved my job at Tesla but what I had found was I wasn't happy. And I thought, ‘Wait, if I'm not happy with this, the most awesome job in the world, what's wrong?’"

In the legal profession, there are several advantages of practicing law; however, it would be a mistake to ignore the drawbacks of practicing law, including long hours, high-stress situations, difficult clients, etc. 


“I wanted more freedom and more flexibility to work with the people I wanted to work with, to do the work I wanted to do when I wanted to do it, and to pursue the paths that I was interested in,” she stated.

Flexibility and autonomy are key drivers of human motivation, performance, and satisfaction.

“This is your only career that you're going to get, so why do things that make you miserable? Do the work that you love,” Ms Frederick highlighted.

Ms Frederick also stated why learning to try and figure out ways to arrange your work so you didn’t have to do that which made you bristle is important, rather than trying to be the jack-of-all-trades.

“If you love working on particular kinds of deals, go towards more of that, raise your hand, ask for that, find ways to do more.”

“I think the biggest thing you have to do is pay attention to yourself, not just pay attention to details in your contracts or your work, but I'm talking about the feelings you get when you do things,” she added.

“I kind of took the leap and opened my own firm. And I'll tell you, it was the best decision I ever made,” Ms Frederick said.

She revealed “I found more happiness, more professional fulfillment since doing it than I ever had before, so this definitely is my best life, where I'm my own boss, I control my fate and do the kind of work I want to do,” she said.

What was missing before, was a sense of freedom, autonomy and flexibility over her personal and professional being as a lawyer — something that only she could create for herself.

“Be careful not to get stuck doing something you don't enjoy just for the money. Find your purpose, find your fun in your work and be selfish and pursue that.”

The transcript of this podcast episode was slightly edited for publishing purposes. To listen to the full episode with Laura Frederick, click below:

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