In-House Counsel Perspectives: Margo Lynn Hablutzel

Q: What is your full title?  

A: Advisor – Contracts & Commercial Management (Legal).  DXC uses “banded” titles so everybody at a given level, whatever their work category, has the same title.  I am in the “Advisor” band, which could be deemed “Senior Counsel” elsewhere.

Q: Which company do you work for?   

A: DXC Technology Company

Q: What is a typical day for you?    

A: Long!  Because I support global customers, I often have meetings beginning at 6:00 AM or 7:00 AM CST and my evenings are sometimes given to meetings in Asia, especially with Australian, New Zealand and Indian colleagues.  In between, if I am in my regular office, I have meetings and work on papers in between, ranging from master agreements to statements of work to addenda.  The work ranges from drafting to interpretation.  I also support our security and audit teams, and am a SME for SOC1 audit reports and intellectual property, so people contact me when they have questions in these areas.  Most of our meetings are by Skype® or GoToMeeting® unless I am onsite at a customer location.  I travel to customers about twice a month, staying from two days to a week.

Q: What has been your favorite experience at your company?   

A: I have been here for a decade (counting my tenure at one of the companies that was merged into DXC, Computer Sciences Corporation) so there have been many good experiences.  I love working on global contracts because the challenges of balancing legal and cultural requirements among many countries and having to be aware of so many disparate elements that could affect our ability to provide services – and sometimes for the customer to receive the services.

Q: What made you want to work as an in-house attorney?  

A: At the time I was in a small law firm and had to do quite a bit of management.  I liked the change to simply doing legal work and being paid without having to chase down clients.

Q: Before you started working at your company, what area of law did you primarily practice in?   

A: Intellectual property and general corporate law.  We also did a lot of pro bono and court-appointed work in Juvenile Court and as court-appointed guardians ad litem for children in custody disputes and persons with disabilities.  I gained a very different perspective from the documents and forms I completed for our clients in the corporate and intellectual property areas.

Q: What advice would you give to YLS members who want to work in-house?  

A: Look at different types of companies – some have a one-or two-attorney legal department and you need to be more of a generalist, while larger departments allow you to specialize.  Consider companies whose products you like, but don’t limit yourself unless you really only want to work in that industry, and think about how what you know from working at a law firm can translate to companies.  When you move in-house, you will have to learn the corporate culture, including communications practices. One thing you should not expect is working only 32 or 40 hours a week at most companies, at least once you rise beyond a certain level because the expectation is that in-house attorneys are available when our internal customer wants us.  The Association of Corporate Counsel has some programs for people moving in-house, including a networking group, so consider joining as soon as you move to get insights from others who are making the move.

Q: What is one piece of advice of advice you would have given yourself when you were just getting started in practice?  

A: Listen and watch and learn as much as you can, and be open to opportunities.  I certainly never expected to go into a small law firm after finishing my clerkship, and I never thought I would be working in the role I have now.

About Margo Lynn:

Margo Lynn Hablutzel intended to be a surgeon, but switched to law after a college elective piqued her interest in the field.  Following law school, she taught at the University of Oregon School of Law; worked at the American Bar Association; and enjoyed an Illinois Appellate Court clerkship before joining her mother in the practice of law.  Attorney Hablutzel moved in-house to Nortel Networks which took her to Dallas, and her career has included such well-recognized companies as Mary Kay and Lands’ End in addition to technology companies EDS, ACS (now part of Xerox), and Computer Sciences Corporation.  In addition to her J.D. from Chicago-Kent, Attorney Hablutzel holds an LLM in Intellectual Property Law from John Marshall Law School and a Certification in Information Systems Security from (ISC)2.  There are times when, if you ask where she has her home, she’ll say “on Southwest Airlines.”  She has been a member of the ISBA since law school, was the first chair of the Committee on Legal Technology, and is currently Secretary of the Intellectual Property Section Council.

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