Practicing In-House: The General Counsel Perspective, 0418 COBJ, Vol. 47, No. 4 Pg. 4

Author:DICK CAST, J.
Position:Vol. 47, 4 [Page 4]

47 Colo.Law. 4

Practicing In-House: The General Counsel Perspective

Vol. 47, No. 4 [Page 4]

The Colorado Lawyer

April, 2018



As someone who has spent 36 years in private practice billing clients either by the hour or through project fees, I’ve occasionally wondered what it would be like to throw timekeeping and billing to the wind and practice in-house as general counsel for a dynamic corporate enterprise. With a growing number of those enterprises in our state, it’s no surprise that a sizable number of Colorado lawyers practice in-house. As is the case with the public sector and rural practices featured in two earlier messages, in-house practice is a vital thread in the fabric of Colorado lawyering.

This month I’m privileged to highlight several Colorado in-house practitioners and share their observations on what it means to practice in-house.

Sam Walker—Molson Coors Brewing Company

Sam is the global chief legal and corporate affairs officer at Molson Coors. Law and beer—what a great combination. Sam has had what he describes as a “barbell” legal career. He began as a generalist working as a civil trial lawyer, moved on to develop a specialty running the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, and then became a generalist, again serving as general counsel of Molson Coors now for over a decade. Here is Sam’s insight on life as corporate counsel:

The Work

It’s a fun and challenging job! In a typical day, we deal with many different problems and areas of law. In business, like law, we solve problems. Business problems typically have many dimensions, because we have many stakeholders—consumers, customers, communities, investors, governments, and others. One reason I enjoyed trial work was the excitement of learning new things all the time. A general counsel needs to enjoy lifelong learning. I do.

The Rewards

I enjoy serving, leading people, and building teams. It's rewarding to build a team so good I couldn't possibly qualify as anew hire. It's also rewarding to build diverse teams, and then to experience the power of diversity in driving better business conversations and decisions. It's fun to unite behind clear and compelling goals—for example, our ambition at Molson Coors is to be First Choice for Consumers and Customers. Finally, it's gratifying and important to be part of a company committed to winning the right way, rather than winning at all costs.

No matter the tide, the job is general counsel, with an emphasis on general. I aspire not just to handle the corporation's legal needs, but hope-fully to be a trusted, general counsellor about what is right and wise. That's a real privilege.

Any Challenges?

I've had several challenges, all of them shaped by our operating context. First, I needed to learn a new language. The language of law is words; the language of...

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