Not too many people can say they’ve found their dream job. Susan Barrett, general counsel at Monte Nido & Affiliates, is one of the fortunate few.
Monte Nido, a national leader in the treatment of eating disorders for adults and adolescents of all genders, has over fifty programs across the country offering a full continuum of care. The company’s commitment to putting clients first and the hardworking, intelligent, and compassionate people who work there are what make Barrett eager to clock into work. Drawing from her big law and corporate transactions background, she is an expert in issue spotting and managing multiple transactions as well as expectations.
She shares the importance of providing flexible legal advice and a moment in her career that set her on an upward trajectory.
What is one of the biggest misconceptions about being an attorney or the legal function itself?
One misconception is that legal is a bottleneck or legal’s function may prevent the business from doing what they want to do. Rather, high performing in-house counsel should collaborate with its business partners and rarely should be providing a nonflexible “no” without more. More often it’s a “here is the risk, and after knowing the risk, if we still want to do this, here are some things we can do that will help limit the risk.” There are business considerations that play into legal advice, and sometimes those business considerations override a completely conservative approach.
What’s a piece of unconventional advice you’ve received that was helpful?
Any input on a situation by legal, even if imperfect, is better than the alternative (i.e. no legal input).
What is the most meaningful case or pro bono experience you’ve worked on?
I was working on a small acquisition as a junior associate with a partner who had a preplanned vacation. While he was [out of the office], another partner stood in, but I drove the deal for the week, taking what I had observed on past deals and pushing internal workstreams along and interacting with the client. Taking the lead gave me confidence in my abilities as a corporate attorney and set me on a track to take on higher level responsibilities for future deals, setting me on a trajectory for early success.