Cockpit Counsel

The Legal Team of One

Watch this short video, where Tim shares his perspective on being a legal team of one and advice on achieving success while flying solo.


Question: You've been the first in-house attorney at every company you have worked for. What has that taught you?

Answer: How to be resourceful more than anything else. I think it helped me have a business-first mindset because the people who were helping me learn how to be effective in the role were business people who were very clear and articulate about how they wanted problems addressed.

Obviously, those people not being lawyers came at it from a very direct business perspective. More than anything, I had to be resourceful and use not only the business people, but my first job outside of law school, I was working with a company that was being sold and we had deal counsel. Our external counsel, a big top ten, top twenty law firm.

I was also able to work directly with them and really get some direction and almost mentorship from some of those attorneys. So if I had a question, I would just call them. It probably wasn't the best for the bills, but it was okay.

Question: What advice do you have for somebody who is a legal team of one?

Answer: Find out what the most important things are, that the business needs from you. If you're a legal team of one, you're likely to be very busy. When I say, figure out what's the most important, sometimes the easiest way to figure it out is to have your list of stuff and go to your manager, whoever that may be, and be like, what is most important to you on this list? Especially if you're early on in your career, that's a really good way to figure out, number one, how to communicate with your manager, but it gives you that opportunity to get the business mindset.

They'll stack rank things for you. Like, do this, this, this, this, this in this order. That should give you a pretty good indication as to how they feel about your role in the business too.

Question: From there, how do you think about building out a team?

Answer: Obviously, we talk a lot about using data to drive the decision. But if you're the first in-house hire, depending on how early you are and how long you are sitting in the role, you may or may not have the opportunity to go and buy technology to help you get some of that data.

So maybe you're trying to collect it yourself where you're actually just looking at, I did five contracts last week. Maybe it's a self-tracking system. But, largely, I think it's an exercise in being able to quantify the work that you're doing. Typically, when you're a legal team of one, you're doing work that is relatively visible. Quantifying some of that stuff is the first step helpful in forming that first step.


Tim Parilla Headshot
Tim ParillaChief Legal Officer, LinkSquares
Alyssa Verzino headshot
Alyssa VerzinoProducer, Cockpit Counsel, LinkSquares