The 2020 Corporate Counsel Award Winners: Meet the 2020 Corporate Counsel honorees who are continuing to guide our companies to a continued standard of excellence.

Author:Bicknell, Lindsay
 
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ELIZABETH BENEGAS

General Counsel | NetDocuments Software, Inc.

What is the most interesting thing you've done as a corporate counselor?

"Building a legal function from the ground up is, by far, the most interesting thing I have done in my career. I expected that it would be hard work, but I did not expect it would fundamentally change the way I practice law.

As the first counsel inside the company, there was no precedent for how I would, or should, participate in existing processes. There was nobody to teach me how to do my job, so I started with the absolute basics--understanding the company, its history, its employees, services, and customers. If the last two years have taught me anything, it is that the best attribute a legal team has is the ability to adapt and be flexible to the client's needs. In order to react quickly, and seamlessly, and to give my client the best possible advice, I have to know much more than just the law; I need to know the company inside and out."

EDDIE W. CHRISTENSEN

VP II, Legal & General Counsel | CHG Healthcare

What do you most enjoy about in-house work?

"I love exploring how and why a business works. As in-house counsel, I get to immerse myself in the underbelly of the business, which helps me provide better, more tailored advice. This tight integration permits me to comprehensively anticipate future legal problems, resulting in problem avoidance rather than problem fixing.

I especially enjoy working at CHG Healthcare. CHG Healthcare has developed an extraordinary culture based on respect, integration, inspiration, and success. I'm fortunate and proud to be part of a company that cares equally about the success of its people as much as it does about its own. It's rewarding to feel appreciated for the value I bring and cared for as a person."

SCOTT DEGRAFFENRIED

VP, General Counsel I Jacobsen Construction Company

What is the most interesting thing you've done as a corporate counselor?

"It's difficult to describe one thing as the most interesting when in reality, every day presents new challenges. There is certainly no monotony in my job, and that's what I love. That said, experiences that are particularly rewarding for me are being involved in extensive contract negotiations for complicated projects that come to fruition. Even though I'm not participating in the physical construction of a project, I appreciate being involved in the contract formation and hopefully paving the way for a successful project."

NEIL R. FELLOWS

SVP, Legal & Regulatory Affairs, Chief Compliance

Officer | EnerBank USA

What advice do you have for companies seeking in-house counsel?

"The size and complexity of a particular organization will determine the type of attorney who would make a good addition to its legal department. In [any] case, it is important to hire team players for in-house counsel positions.

It's also important to put in-house attorneys in a position to develop good working relationships with the non-attorneys they will be working closely with. This will help ensure that the attorney has all of the information needed to best manage legal risk and to get things...

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