As I stood atop the Roman Colosseum during a recent trip, emotionally gripped by its horrific history, I couldn't help but make the connection between the ancient gladiator and my role as an in-house attorney. I know a lawyer's life is just a bit more privileged than a gladiator's, but philosophically the comparison is not as far a stretch as one might think.
For starters, lawyers are often referred to as mercenaries and hired guns. We are protectors, defenders and guardians--the corporate gatekeepers. We shield and protect companies from liability, and we engage in fights and battles on behalf of our clients. One colleague actually called me his gladiator after a particularly successful contract negotiation.
When in-house attorneys do well by accumulating victories in litigation, we are celebrated like champion gladiators. Our war stories even serve as entertainment; listeners revel in our tales of how we "sliced and diced" our opponent's case until it fell apart into a bloody heap.
Like gladiators, in-house lawyers are only as effective as the weapons we're given. If we're not given adequate resources and staff, we can lose battles we otherwise would have won. Looking down at the Colosseum's arena, I imagined all those gladiators who were sent out to battle with limited armor and weaponry or who were placed in other sadistic situations where the odds were so heavily stacked against them.