Matt Campobasso: Insights from a General Counsel

In this episode, Steve Fretzin and Matt Campobasso discuss:

  • Preventing problems before they have a chance to happen repeatedly.
  • Assessing the risks you want to take when your company is growing and evolving.
  • Pros and cons of private practice versus an in-house career.
  • How to successfully network with a general counsel.

Key Takeaways:

  • Good prevention doesn’t eradicate all risks but stops many unnecessary risks. All risks aren’t bad, but you want to have the option of which risks you want to take.
  • Working at a larger law firm right out of school allows you to learn from many other lawyers and can give you a broader perspective on different aspects of legal.
  • In your own practice (or in a law firm in general) you want to be working on and building your book of business – rarely are clients going to fall into your lap with no relationship building on your end.
  • When reaching out to a potential client, do your homework first. Try to understand where they are at and what their pain points are.

“I’ve said this for a long time, the best lawyers know the best way to protect their clients is to know their clients, and there’s no better way to know your client from the inside.” —  Matt Campobasso

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Episode References: 

About Matt Campobasso: Matt Campobasso is the General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Enfusion, Inc., a publicly traded fintech company headquartered in Chicago. He also serves as a member of Enfusion’s Executive Committee and as Co-Chair of its Operating Committee. Campobasso joined Enfusion in September 2020 as Deputy General Counsel and assumed the role of General Counsel in November 2022. During his time with Enfusion, the company went public via an October 2021 IPO and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. As General Counsel, Campobasso oversees a team of nine lawyers who manage Enfusion’s legal operations and risk for a global organization with offices in eight countries. The team prioritizes a business-first approach that combines “range” and “upstream thinking” aimed at solving problems before they arise and employing legal strategies that safeguard and advance business strategy.

In addition to Enfusion, Campobasso’s 18 years of legal experience include time spent as a government prosecutor, as an associate and then partner with Freeborn & Peters (now Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP), and, most recently, as general counsel for TruQua Enterprises (acquired by IBM in 2020). Campobasso earned a J.D. from the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law and an undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Connect with Matt Campobasso:  

Website: https://www.enfusion.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mrc1921/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/enfusion-llc/

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Twitter: @stevefretzin

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Website: Fretzin.com

Email: Steve@Fretzin.com

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YouTube: Steve Fretzin

Call Steve directly at 847-602-6911

Show notes by Podcastologist Chelsea Taylor-Sturkie

Audio production by Turnkey Podcast Productions. You’re the expert. Your podcast will prove it.

FULL TRANSCRIPT

[00:00:00] Steve Fretzin: Hey everyone, listen up real quick. Before we begin the show, I’d like to present my Be That Lawyer Challenge. If you’ve ever wondered how much more you could be making as an attorney, I challenge you to meet with me for 30 minutes to discuss your law firm. If I’m unable to identify ways to bring in more business for you, I’ll pay your hourly rate for our time together.

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[00:00:29] Narrator: You’re listening to Be That Lawyer, life changing strategies and resources for growing a successful law practice. Each episode, your host, author and lawyer coach, Steve Fretzin, will take a deeper dive, helping you grow your law practice in less time with greater results. Now, here’s your host, Steve Fretzin.

[00:00:51] Steve Fretzin: Well, hey, everybody. Welcome back to the Be That Lawyer with me. Fretzin, uh, where we’re here to help you be that lawyer. Someone who’s confident organized in a skilled rainmaker. Uh, this is happening every day, twice, well, twice a week. I should have every day. It’s not every day. I mean, you can listen to it every day.

[00:01:07] Steve Fretzin: There’s 400 plus episodes, Matt, but it’s twice a week. If you’re new to listening to the show or have already heard the others, but, uh, Hey buddy, how’s it going? 

[00:01:15] Matt Campobasso: It’s good, Steve. It’s great to see you again. Obviously we know each other for quite a few years. Uh, good to be back connecting and, uh, excited to have this chat.

[00:01:23] Steve Fretzin: Yeah, me too, me too. This is going to be a really interesting and different exercise than some of the other podcasts we’ve done, and I’m not going to give any spoilers yet because we’re going to do it soon enough. But we do love to start with our quote of the show, and I want to hear why this one is your sort of favorite, and we’ve all heard this our whole lives, but it’s, I want to hear your take.

[00:01:44] Steve Fretzin: It’s an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Good old, good old Ben Franklin there. 

[00:01:50] Matt Campobasso: Yeah, it’s uh, to your point, I mean, I’ve heard it since I was a young boy. You know, like a lot of things I heard when I was a young man. You hear it, you’re like, oh, that sounds clever. You know, when you get older, you start to understand the meaning behind it.

[00:02:02] Matt Campobasso: And when you’ve experienced the pain of curing something that could have been prevented, I think that’s where you really start to feel like, oh, wow, this, you know, This Ben Franklin guy had some pretty good thoughts. It’s something that my team and I, and I know we’re going to chat a little bit more about this later, so I won’t get too deep into it, but it’s something my team and I at infusion, um, my legal team are very focused on this year specifically, which is like, look, some things happen.

[00:02:25] Matt Campobasso: You’ve got to cure them. You’ve got to clean up messes, right? You got to grab the mop and get to work. But when you see those things happening repeatedly, you know, you got to start thinking about how do you prevent that in the first place, right? Cause it’s a lot easier to solve it once upfront than to clean it up a hundred times.

[00:02:38] Matt Campobasso: So to me, that quote, like many great quotes, really Encapsulates that concept very easily. I think for anybody, you know, whether it’s on my team, the business stakeholders that we work with, it’s a good way to have a conversation about a concept. And so, yeah, that’s one of the quotes that I, I dust off and use quite a bit.

[00:02:58] Steve Fretzin: Yeah, I think the idea of risk and, uh, versus consequence, right? I mean, you can have a lawyer that helps you to avoid risk. And avoid consequences. I mean, that, that, yeah, it helps avoid risk and consequences versus dealing with the outcome and the fallout of not preventing and not doing and taking care of things.

[00:03:17] Steve Fretzin: And again, this could be home maintenance. This could be a legal issue. This could be health. Right, you know, we’re dealing with with the very unhealthy population and it seems like there’s very little being done to sort of like cut off the, you know, processed foods or the things that are really dragging us down.

[00:03:34] Steve Fretzin: And so now they’re coming up with pills and solutions that are, you know, definitely gonna have some adverse side effects because we can’t, we can’t figure out the. The front end of it. 

[00:03:44] Matt Campobasso: Yeah. I, I mean, it sounds like we’re, we’re similar in this way. I’m a big user of analogies, you know, I think for lawyers, which I know you spend so much of your time with, you know, the law is very complex and a lot of the day to day conversations I have about the law are with non lawyers.

[00:04:01] Matt Campobasso: And so I use analogies all the time. And so hearing you talk about, you know, home maintenance or health, I’ve used those analogies. Obviously the goal is always, you know, take your vitamins, right. Get, get a good amount of sleep, like exercise, But inevitably, you know, whether it’s genetics or something, there’s going to be something like a diabetes or a cancer, right, that you have to clean up or deal with or treat.

[00:04:20] Matt Campobasso: And, you know, good prevention doesn’t eradicate all risk, obviously, but what it does is it minimizes, I think, unnecessary risk. You know, certain risk is opportunity, right? You see risk and you’re like, Hey, we’re going to go down this path as a business or as a human being. Right. And there’s going to be some risk in there.

[00:04:36] Matt Campobasso: But if you stop and you kind of assess that upfront, you think, Hey, how should I dress for this journey? You know, what do I need to bring with me in case things get, you know, that to me is about just being thoughtful and not just kind of rushing down the road and then dealing with things as they come. I think some companies do that depending on where they are in their growth cycle.

[00:04:53] Matt Campobasso: You know, infusion, the company I’m with, you know, we went public two and a half years ago and I was with the company as a in house lawyer, as a deputy general counsel before we went public. And obviously now I’m on the general council as we are public. We’re two very different companies, right? Infusion is still what it says on our, on our masthead and on our website.

[00:05:11] Matt Campobasso: But when you’re a private company and your focus is on, you know, just growth and evolving your product versus a public company where you’re dealing with regulatory bodies and things like that in oversight and filings, It’s very different. And so when you’re growing quickly and you need to be nimble, you have a little bit more temperament and a little bit more of a, an appetite for risk.

[00:05:31] Matt Campobasso: Whereas when you become public, you still have to take risks to grow and to perform, but you have to be more thoughtful and deliberate about the process you have around that. So, um, you know, I think right now this focus on prevention for me as a general counsel and my team, it wouldn’t have been the right fit for this company three years ago, but it feels like the perfect time for it right now.

[00:05:50] Steve Fretzin: Yeah, and so you guys are all picking up on the fact that Matt is a general counsel. I don’t have many, maybe, you might be the first general counsel I’ve had on the show. Matt Pampabasso, the GC of Infusion, just so you guys know who we’re dealing with here. And the reason, I mean, other than you’re an awesome guy, and I, you know, we had a chance to work together, and you ended up going in house, which is phenomenal.

[00:06:12] Steve Fretzin: But I think I want to get your background because I know there was some, you know, 10 transitions that happened in your life that led you to where you are today. So let’s go there. And then I have like a bunch of questions I want to hit you up with, uh, To kind of, you know, kind of feather out this, this whole in house, uh, private practice question that many lawyers have.

[00:06:30] Steve Fretzin: Absolutely. 

[00:06:31] Matt Campobasso: Yeah. You know, I think when I was 15, I decided to go to law school. I’m just kidding, by the way. I’m not going to go. It’s all that 

[00:06:37] Steve Fretzin: detail. A lot of people say that. Like, hey, when I was No, 

[00:06:39] Matt Campobasso:

[00:06:39] Steve Fretzin: One of my clients says she Your listeners don’t care about that. Became a divorce attorney when she helped her parents divorce at like eight years old or something.

[00:06:45] Steve Fretzin: Oh, wow. You two need to divorce. She’s like 

[00:06:47] Matt Campobasso: Well, that’s I mean, good for her to have that Exactly. Yeah. For me, not so much. Um, I’ve been to a degree figuring it out as I go, but you know, I always knew the law was interesting to me. I like helping people. I like thinking about complex problems. Um, I graduated from law school about 18 years ago and I did two years as a criminal prosecutor, uh, in, in Illinois state courts and out in McHenry County.

[00:07:10] Matt Campobasso: I loved it, tried a lot of cases, made a lot of mistakes, learned a lot of lessons. Then I transitioned to a very traditional law firm path, a law firm by the name of Freeborn and Peters, which is where I was, Steve. When you and I first had a chance to work together, you know, I was there for 11 years. I was a, I, I think what they called me was a complex civil litigator.

[00:07:28] Matt Campobasso: Um, I really, I litigated on both sides, you know, plaintiff and defense, everything from insurance disputes to real estate shareholders, executive disputes, all that stuff. It was incredible. I mean, in those 11 years, I feel like I learned. The things that have made me successful now, I learned from all the lawyers that I worked with there, you know, I, there’s a version of my career where I stay at a law firm and I just kind of, you know, punch the clock every day and I’m successful, but something that kept me moving and kept me thinking about, Hey, what else is out there?

[00:07:58] Matt Campobasso: Was this feeling of as a litigator and even as an outside lawyer, who’s not a litigator, you only get involved when your client picks up the phone and you have no control over that, right? You can maintain open communication with your client. You can say, Hey, I’m here for you. But until they have a need that’s defined and they’re like, Hey, I’m feeling pain.

[00:08:15] Matt Campobasso: Who do I call? Hopefully they call you. But until that point, you don’t have a ton of visibility into the day to day of what’s going on. So the ability to intervene early or be proactive is critical. It’s really not there. And if it is there, depending on, you know, how close of a relationship you have with a GC or an in house team, it’s not nearly as effective as it is when you’re on the other side and you are that in house lawyer.

[00:08:36] Matt Campobasso: So, you know, near the end of my law firm tenure, like I said, I did about 11 years as an associate and then as a partner. I just felt like I was getting brought in too late, and I just thought, you know, hey, I always, to go back to my point about analogies, I always felt like, you know, even the best firefighter, they get called to a house that’s on fire, even if you’re great at what you do, and you put that fire out faster than anybody else, there’s damage, right, there’s damage, things are burned, things have to be replaced, smoke damage, and I always just felt like, you know, yeah, that’s the heroic thing, like putting out fires, I’d rather prevent fires in the first place because then the firefighter doesn’t get called, but nobody throws a parade for the guy who installs the, you know, the electrical in the walls, right?

[00:09:18] Matt Campobasso: He just does his job sprinkler systems, right? Exactly. So, you know, but to me, personally speaking, I just thought, you know what, like, I would love to get involved in these decisions earlier because I used to say to my clients, you know, we’d have a two year piece of very heavy litigation. It’s expensive.

[00:09:32] Matt Campobasso: It’s unpredictable. Everybody’s upset. And even if we win, the clients are like, This was the worst experience of my life. And I’m like, you know, personally, I’m like, wow, okay, well we won. And that’s what you’re saying. I can’t even imagine what the other guys are saying. And I just thought like, and I would say to my clients, I would say, you know what, Hey, do me a favor next time.

[00:09:49] Matt Campobasso: Like if you would have called me six months earlier, you could have saved 500, 000 and a lot of headaches. And they would say, inevitably, absolutely. Next time. Did they almost never. And so I realized eventually for me to get to the point where I’m working on these sorts of things early, I probably need to move in house.

[00:10:08] Matt Campobasso: And so I made the tough decision in 2018 to leave Free Board of Peters, and I went to a company called Elevate, I was there for about a year and a half. That’s where I got my first taste of true, like, in house work, and I was doing, you know, more surgical things that related to litigation because that’s what my background was.

[00:10:25] Matt Campobasso: Immediately, I felt like, hey, this idea that I had, this proof of concept, was, like, proven. And I was like, this is it. Like, this is what I need to be doing. And so I went from Elevate after about a year and a half to a small company based in Chicago called Truqua. I was there for six months. I was right as COVID was beginning.

[00:10:43] Matt Campobasso: I thought at the start of that, Hey, this is where I’m going to retire. Uh, the gentleman that owned the company had other ideas, not about me specifically, but they wanted to, uh, they were being pursued by IBM and IBM bought them. Um, I had an opportunity to go to IBM and it wasn’t unappealing, but I just said, Hey, you know what, before I make another move, I want to think about what’s out there.

[00:11:02] Matt Campobasso: And, you know, in summer of 2020 is when I, I learned about infusion and, you know, when I first kind of kicked the tires on the company, what I saw was this like rapid growth trajectory. And I went in as the third lawyer. They were private. There was rumblings, you know, in my interviews about, Hey, we may go public at some point.

[00:11:20] Matt Campobasso: And I just thought, you know what? This is one of those unique opportunities where there’s a kind of a rocket ship here that I can get on and I can just learn as I go. And yeah, I mean, three and a half years later, here I am, uh, you know, like I said, I was the third lawyer. Now I’m one of nine. I’ve got an incredible team.

[00:11:35] Matt Campobasso: I’m the general counsel and you know, it’s a very exciting job. And I think to kind of put a bow around that, the thing that I was looking for in my law firm days. Which was the ability to influence decisions early. I have not a hundred times a day, dozens of times a day. You know, I’m in conversations with our board, with our executive team, with my team, and I’m seeing these things, which I know if untreated or treated improperly turn into litigation.

[00:12:00] Matt Campobasso: And so I have the ability to kind of put my hand in there and collaborate and say, Hey, you know what? Like you want to get from a to B. If we go this way, we’re going to bump into some things. Let’s go this way. It’s a little bit longer of a path. Well, we’re going to sidestep some things that might otherwise get us into trouble.

[00:12:16] Matt Campobasso: And so I’m, I’m happy to say relieved, I think is maybe the better word relieved that the idea that I had, you know, seven years ago that, Hey, going in house might get me closer to the sort of work I want to be doing on a daily basis. It is prove it out. And so, you know, I’m loving, I’m loving it. 

[00:12:32] Steve Fretzin: But it’s for some lawyers, there’s like this fantasy about in house and how great it is.

[00:12:38] Steve Fretzin: And everything that you’ve just shared is part is not fantasy. It’s happening in real time for you. However, they’re not all that way. So I want to take a moment to just look at the pros and cons of private practice and in house jobs. And then I want to lead that into, you know, how do we approach in house folks?

[00:12:57] Steve Fretzin: Because for the people that are listening to the show, which is primarily people in private practice, you know, getting in front of a GC and locking up a new Uh, company through, you know, through the GC is, is that’s the dream of a private practice attorney. So let’s, let’s start with sort of your take on, on pro and you may have to pull your job out of it a little bit because, you know, they’re not all that, all that, you know, again, rainbows and butterflies and pots of gold.

[00:13:25] Steve Fretzin: What are you, how do you see, because you’ve done both now, the pros and cons of each? Yeah, I think 

[00:13:32] Matt Campobasso: there’s tons of pros for both, right? And the cons I think are very specific. Steve, you know, as a law firm attorney, you’re getting the opportunity to work with a lot of different types of companies, right?

[00:13:42] Matt Campobasso: You know, for me, I work for infusion and our business is my business, right? When I was a law firm practitioner, like I said earlier, I was doing, you know, dozens of cases a year all over the map from a substance perspective. And I think at that point in my career, that was a significant pro because I was realizing.

[00:14:01] Matt Campobasso: Hey, different situations require different tools. And some of those I didn’t have in my toolbox or some weren’t as sharp as I wish they had been. And so I learned a ton. You know, I think a pro, another pro of being at a law firm is, you know, when the firm I was with was 150 lawyers, some of the best lawyers I’ve ever worked with.

[00:14:17] Matt Campobasso: And I almost felt like a kid in a candy shop when I started there, because I was like, there’s so many people here who are each good at specific things. And I feel like if you have like the right mindset and you’re willing to learn and steal is probably not the right word, but borrow from people, it’s such an incredible opportunity.

[00:14:34] Matt Campobasso: Right? Like if you were to go to a company, like if I had come to infusion and been one of three lawyers right out of law school. There’s two lawyers I would be learning from and, you know, maybe I learned some things, but having, you know, a hundred lawyers plus and saying, Hey, this person is an incredible writer.

[00:14:48] Matt Campobasso: And, and this woman goes to court and no one is more prepared or the way this guy picks a jury. And that’s what I had the benefit of for like 11 years. 

[00:14:55] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. But then, but then on top of that, Matt, you were saying like all the different companies that you get to work with and all the different types of law that you get to practice, even if you’re a specific type of litigator or transactional.

[00:15:07] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. Right, so you’re getting it from both sides, you’re getting it from all the comp, all the different Matters that happen and then you’re getting it from inside with all the attorneys you get to learn from so I think that’s exactly yeah That’s 

[00:15:17] Matt Campobasso: exposure. Yeah, that’s pretty pretty broad exposure. Yeah, it was wonderful I mean again, I you know, it’s easy to say this because of my career has been one journey But like I don’t know how I end up where I am now and capable of doing what I’m doing If not for that time, and like I said, there’s a version of my life where I stay in the law firm model and I do that until I retire and I’m very happy and I’m, I come out of that a great lawyer to me, what I think, you know, so those, I guess to answer your question, but those are the pros.

[00:15:43] Steve Fretzin: Yeah, but I, and I want to give one more pro and let’s stay on private practice for another few minutes, but one more pro I want to give is, is that. And this is, this is not a plug for my services, but it’s something that every lawyer knows and especially lawyers listening to this show, that if you’re just a service partner, that’s not the pro.

[00:16:01] Steve Fretzin: The pro is when you can develop the million, two, three, four million dollar books of business and have the power, have the control and have your own clients to work on. That’s a huge advantage on so many levels as a pro to stay in private practice. And we’re not, so I just want to add that pro before we move to the con, which, you know, we can start off with the latter, which is staying a service partner.

[00:16:27] Steve Fretzin: And you have 10 companies that your work doing matters on. So you have 10 bosses in the companies that you’re working for the GCs and CEOs telling you what to do, and you’re getting fed that work by five lawyers. So now you have five lawyer bosses. So you have. You know, 10, 15 bosses, essentially not including your internal team.

[00:16:46] Steve Fretzin: Um, so starting off with that con in private practice as a, as a kind of a major one, 

[00:16:52] Matt Campobasso: yeah, it’s tough because you’re answering to a lot of people. And the only person who’s really cognizant of like what your resource bandwidth is, is you. And so, you know, depending on your personality and a lot of lawyers are very type a, you want to keep everybody happy all the time.

[00:17:05] Matt Campobasso: It can be definitely a strain. Um, and it can, it can affect like work life balance to your point. Right. If you’re able to build that book of business and you’re able to say, Hey, I’ve got one, two, three clients that I am their go to outside lawyer. And that yields a million, two, 3 million a year. And in, in revenue for the firm that you’re with, like, that’s an incredible position to be in.

[00:17:24] Matt Campobasso: Right. And there are people, I watched firsthand lawyers build that book of business. And, you know, I think a lot of lawyers are kind of like, and I remember thinking this as a young lawyer, I’ll just do good work. I’ll keep my head down and clients will come to me. That’s just not how the world works. You know?

[00:17:37] Matt Campobasso: Yeah. Sometimes a client will fall in your lap, but it’s, that’s the exception. You know, I think to your, you know, this is what you do, right? Like, you know, this as well as anyone, you’ve got to go out there and be very mindful and deliberate about building that book of business and how do you market yourself?

[00:17:51] Matt Campobasso: And, and not a lot of lawyers are very good at that. The ones that are, are truly like masters of the universe, right? Like they’re the ones who are like, I’ve got five clients, I’ve got 8 I’ve got a team of 14 lawyers that support me and my clients. Like it’s a very good position to be in, but it’s, it’s the exception.

[00:18:07] Matt Campobasso: And so, yeah, when you’re on the other side of that equation and you’re a service partner, you know, there are some of the best lawyers I’ve ever met are service partners and they’re just, you go into their specific vertical and no one knows more than they do. But with that depth of knowledge and that expertise, if you don’t have the other piece of that, which is.

[00:18:23] Matt Campobasso: You know, the money coming in under your name, it creates a very tenuous situation. So that’s absolutely a con because, you know, you know, every lawyer at a law firm is out there looking for a whale. There’s only so many whales in the ocean. 

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[00:20:30] Steve Fretzin: I mean, and then, you know, again, there’s some lawyers working 60 hours a week. They’re working weekends. They’re on call all the time so, you know, there’s a reason why there’s a group of lawyers who are continually Have that one foot in one foot out looking for that in house role because they feel like it, you know, the grass is going to be greener.

[00:20:50] Steve Fretzin: And I think in some instances it definitely is, especially if they’re not really motivated for business development, if that isn’t something they have any inclination for interest in, it’s never going to be their thing. But there is an issue there though, because maybe we’re moving to the, to the in house side.

[00:21:07] Steve Fretzin: I know that in house jobs used to be 20, 30 year, you know, uh, commitments, right? You’d have your in house job forever. I mean, how long do you think an in house job lasts these days? 

[00:21:19] Matt Campobasso: Yeah, that’s a great question. I think it’s probably somewhat contingent on like the maturity of the business, right? If you’ve got like a, let’s call it a GE or, you know, some sort of a manufacturing business or something that’s been around for 50 years, I would say you probably tend to see those decade, decade plus.

[00:21:36] Matt Campobasso: You know, for a lot of different types of companies, startups, technology. I would say shorter. Right? You know, you’ve got things changing, companies evolving quickly, their needs change. Um, there’s mo you know, in this day and age, mergers and acquisitions are, you know, mo very prevalent. And so you get companies that are getting swooped up and there’s redundancies.

[00:21:53] Matt Campobasso: So I would say, yeah, I mean, it’s in-house. Like I, I don’t have any like hard numbers to point to Steve, but I think I would say that, yeah, I, I’ve heard those stories, right, where people are like, oh, I was a in-house lawyer that I did, I did corporate work for this company for 25 years. I hear those stories less and less, and when I do hear them.

[00:22:10] Matt Campobasso: I mean, just by the nature of, you know, age and length of profession, it’s older attorneys. I’ve noticed there’s a lot more, you know, nomadic tendencies with younger lawyers. And by younger, I would say like, you know, 50 and under. 

[00:22:22] Steve Fretzin: Well, it’s, it’s a bit of, um, it’s a bit, there is some networking and some business development going on in the sense that if, if you have an assistant GC working under you, they know you’re not going anywhere.

[00:22:33] Steve Fretzin: Matt’s the, Matt’s the bomb. He ain’t going anywhere. He’s going to run this company for the next 10 years. You know, what’s their incentive if they want to develop, they can’t take your job necessarily could try, but you know, they may say, Hey, now I have enough experience working under Matt. I want to go take this experience and go try to be the top GC somewhere else or maybe an assistant GC at a larger company.

[00:22:54] Steve Fretzin: So I think there’s positioning that’s happening, but, but if a company gets bought, if a company merges, if the IBM, whatever. And then you’re out. And if there isn’t another role ready for you, like waiting for you, then what? Right? You’re kind of an in house with no book of business. What’s that forecast?

[00:23:14] Matt Campobasso: Yeah, I mean, it’s something that I’ve thought about. I will, I’ll be honest, I don’t think about it a ton. Well, maybe you better 

[00:23:21] Steve Fretzin: start thinking about it. I mean, that’s a good, yeah. No, we’re going to have a conversation about you. No. 

[00:23:26] Matt Campobasso: Yeah, no, no, no. But listen, I think you’re absolutely right. Like any lawyer, you’re absolutely right.

[00:23:30] Matt Campobasso: The economy in the world, the job market has changed to your point. You know, my dad ran a company for 35 years and like he retired and that was it. And it’s like, I’ve had more jobs at 45 than my dad had, you know, at 70. And so things change, right? And there’s a whole variety of factors. Sometimes it’s forced through an acquisition or a sale.

[00:23:48] Matt Campobasso: Sometimes it’s. Through, you know, uh, I don’t know, performance related issues or people want to, you know, they talk about moving from one role to another as a way to maximize earnings. There’s a whole bunch of reasons, but the bottom line is to your point, people are changing jobs now more rapidly than ever to your point about, you know, for me, I think there’s two things I heard.

[00:24:06] Matt Campobasso: Number one is kind of my, you know, if you think about an AGC who reports to me, number one, my goal is, and I’ve said this to my team, maybe as recently as earlier this week. Look, I don’t have any sort of delusion that we’re all going to retire from Infusion together someday. I mean, that would be lovely, but that’s a storybook.

[00:24:23] Matt Campobasso: My goal is to maximize their input at Infusion while they’re here, but also to give them the opportunity to learn as much as possible. So in fact, like nothing would make me happier. I’m a big football fan. You hear about the Bill Parcells, like tree of coaching, right? All those guys who were assistants under him who now are head coaches or were head coaches, Bill Belichick and, and you know, Ryan, my dream would be in 10 years to look around and see four of my other eight lawyers on my team or more being GCs at companies of varying sizes.

[00:24:51] Matt Campobasso: Like that would be incredible. Right? That’s success in my mind, because that means they’re maximizing their growth. They feel engaged. So that’s one piece of it to, to your question about me specifically. Yeah. If tomorrow I found out, Hey, um, infusion is getting bought Matt and thanks for everything. But, you know, this is where we leave you.

[00:25:09] Matt Campobasso: I’d have to think long and hard about what that looks like, right? Do I go find a role that, you know, how does that look? Do I go back to a law firm? To your point, I don’t have a book of business. So what does that look like? Hopefully my value proposition as a, as a general counsel open some doors, but you know, they, those doors aren’t open until they’re open.

[00:25:26] Matt Campobasso: And so absolutely. To your point, I mean, you kind of got to pick a path, I think at some point. And I know you wanted to hear a little bit about the pros of going in house. I definitely had a, you know, I had some business when I left the law firm practice and I kind of was like, all right, well, I’m going to hand this off to some of my colleagues and I’m going to go do this.

[00:25:43] Matt Campobasso: I hope this works because if it doesn’t, I’ve kind of given away this accumulated leverage that I had over time that added to my value proposition. So yeah, you know, do you want me to talk a little bit about like pros and cons? I mean, I think I think 

[00:25:55] Steve Fretzin: we’re gonna have to do like 30 seconds because I have a very important direction I want to go with this and we’re running out of time.

[00:26:02] Steve Fretzin: Just I think absolutely just got excited real quick so give us give us a couple of you know, I think lawyers know some of the benefits of going in house and We just covered a con, but maybe just hit, hit two real quick. And then, then we got, I got a big question for you. 

[00:26:16] Matt Campobasso: The two obvious ones to me are number one, you have one client to know, right?

[00:26:21] Matt Campobasso: Within that business, you have multiple clients, you have different teams and organizations, but you understand if you’re doing your job and you’re paying attention and you have good communication, you understand the general direction that your client, the company, the stakeholders is moving at all times.

[00:26:36] Matt Campobasso: And so in my, I’ve said this for a long time, the best lawyers. The best way to protect their clients is to know their clients. And there’s no better way to know your client from the inside. And that’s, to me, that’s like the biggest thing. I know more about infusion obviously than I knew about any of my clients as a law firm attorney.

[00:26:54] Matt Campobasso: And it’s allowing me to be very fluid and nimble and to react in real time. And sometimes time is of the essence. You know, you have, you don’t have, you don’t have a week to think about an issue. You have an hour and you got to make a quick decision. So that’s one big thing is just knowledge of my client infusion.

[00:27:08] Matt Campobasso: The other one is I would say diversity of experience. And so previously I mentioned like you have diversity of skillsets with lawyers at a law firm, you have diversity of clients that you’re working for. Right. Now, because I’m so close to the business, I’m involved in every conceivable aspect of what we do.

[00:27:23] Matt Campobasso: Things that I never would have dreamt about being involved with when I was an outside lawyer. Because you get involved in the business side of it, right? Exactly. That’s exactly right. So I’ve thought more. My evolution as a business person over the last six years has, you know, if you were looking at a growth curve, it was incremental and it was really kind of case specific.

[00:27:41] Matt Campobasso: Now it’s like, you know, straight up and down because every single day I’m exposed to things, you know, just like the financials of a public company reporting. That is something that our CFO and I’ve learned so much about over the last 18 months. And it’s things I’d never even thought about before. So to me, those are the two big pros.

[00:27:57] Matt Campobasso: You learn more about business. Like true business, and you have a much better day to day knowledge of your client. 

[00:28:02] Steve Fretzin: Well, and I think it’s also, you know, you’re having a more sort of stable work life balance in the sense that there aren’t, you know, fires to put out every weekend or fires to put out every evening.

[00:28:13] Steve Fretzin: You know, you’re not getting your phone isn’t just ringing off the hook. You don’t, you’re not dealing with hundreds of emails from dozens of different people, right? So, I mean, I think that’s part of what the, the, the, again, the, The beautiful part of it is, is that, that idea that, Hey, I’m not going to have the same stress that I have in, in, in, in a private practice.

[00:28:30] Steve Fretzin: So again, pros and cons on both sides. Um, what I really wanted to get to, and we only have a few minutes, Matt, I’m really kind of disappointed because I wanted to spend a good five, eight minutes on this and we don’t have it. So we’re gonna have to be very precise in how we, how we handle this question.

[00:28:44] Steve Fretzin: There are lawyers that are in private practice that really want to work with companies and have to get to the companies through general counsels. As a GC, someone that’s worked on the private side, what’s the best approach for, for a lawyer who wants to work with Infusion to court you, to talk with you, to engage you You know, figure out where there might be synergy.

[00:29:10] Matt Campobasso: What I’ve found most effective, Steve, is, you know, since moving in house and definitely since becoming GC a little bit over a year and a half ago, I get emails, phone calls constantly. And a lot of them are, here’s why we’re great. And it’s just kind of, that’s the start. That’s the beginning and the ending of it.

[00:29:26] Matt Campobasso: Here’s why we’re great. Here’s my firm. Here’s our reputation. Here’s what I can do. And that’s great. Like, look, there are many, many capable lawyers out there. The conversations and the approach that I have found that I personally react best to. Are those where people come to me, not about why they’re great or what they can do, but where they’re like, Hey, I spent some time understanding your company and we’re public, right?

[00:29:47] Matt Campobasso: Our, our 10 Ks, 10 Qs are out there in the world. You can get on our, on our website and understand our business where they come to me and they say, Hey, I spent some time understanding your business, the industry you’re in, the market, the sorts of issues that. You’re probably dealing with on a day to day basis and immediately it opens in my mind.

[00:30:05] Matt Campobasso: Hey, here’s an opportunity to like, have a conversation. That’s not just like, I’m great. Here’s why you should hire me. It’s a conversation about here’s why I’m the right lawyer for your company. And here’s why, what I can do to help ease your pain. Because to me, at the end of the day, the The best lawyers that I’ve worked with and those lawyers that have had the most, let’s say success, like, you know, being that phone first phone call for me are the ones that are like reading my mind, right?

[00:30:29] Matt Campobasso: And they may see something in the news about my company and they may send me an email and say, Hey, we saw this. I’m assuming you have it under control, but to the extent you want to have a conversation, let me know. And to me, that’s like, you know, they’re, they’re lightening my load. Those are the best outside lawyers, right?

[00:30:44] Matt Campobasso: Like. Yeah. And so, and I always, and this is something that I learned pretty quickly when I came in house is, as an outside lawyer, when I would get a phone call from a GC or a CEO, I would think, oh, this must be the most important thing going on in their world right now. They’ve gotten sued, or they need to sue someone.

[00:30:59] Matt Campobasso: That could not be further from the truth. Now, if it’s about the company lawsuit, probably, it’s keeping them up at night. But, for me, when I get on a phone with an outside lawyer for 15 minutes on a Thursday afternoon at 2 o’clock, it’s like one of 50 things that I’m navigating in that moment. And my goal is to take that baton and hand it to them, and hopefully in a day or two or four they come back to me and hand it back.

[00:31:20] Matt Campobasso: And the idea of how we proceed or how we deal with something is much clearer, right? I’ve handed this to them. When they hand it back, it’s better. And so, yeah, to your question, I think the lawyers, the outside lawyers that really meet GCs or CEOs kind of where they live versus just saying, Hey, look at my pedigree and look at what law school I went to and look at this big firm I go to.

[00:31:41] Matt Campobasso: There’s those sorts of lawyers, in my opinion, are not everywhere, but there’s a lot of them. How do you distinguish yourself? And I think it’s by showing Your perspective client pay. I’ve spent some time getting to know your business and here’s how I think I can be valuable to you. 

[00:31:56] Steve Fretzin: And I think the other thing that’s important is, you know, where’s the, where’s this lawyer coming from?

[00:32:01] Steve Fretzin: Are they soliciting you straight up out of nowhere? Are they being brought to you through a trusted advisor through, you know, a law firm you’re already working with or, or another consultant that you’re working with, or, you know, some other element, or maybe it’s someone that, you know, from law school that you’ve kept in touch with.

[00:32:17] Steve Fretzin: You know, they’re thinking, Hey, there might be something here, but there’s a relationship that either, you know, is developed or through inherited trust through someone that, you know, right. It’s probably not someone that’s just cold calling you out of nowhere. 

[00:32:30] Matt Campobasso: It’s rare that it’s a cold call. And the only time I would really say that I’ve, I’ve, that’s been a path is when, like, Hey, they happen to be the only lawyer that ever reached out to me on this very narrow issue.

[00:32:40] Matt Campobasso: And I just happen to have that narrow issue. But you think about the numbers game there. It’s such a low probability. 

[00:32:45] Steve Fretzin: It’s 

[00:32:45] Matt Campobasso: usually somebody I’ve worked with, who I respect immensely. Someone who I went to law school with, who I’ve, you know, we’ve stayed in touch and I know what their capabilities are. And I would say that’s probably half of it.

[00:32:56] Matt Campobasso: The other half of the time, it’s usually, Hey, you know, somebody that I work with is like, Hey, I came from this place and this is a firm that I know, and I’ve trust them and they’ve got the best group that does X. And so it’s, to your point, it’s kind of a transferred credibility. Uh, where somebody I trust trust them and they make an introduction and we have a conversation, but I’d say both.

[00:33:15] Matt Campobasso: I mean, sometimes it’s just personal relationships where at the end of the day, Steve, like either I need to trust this person to help or somebody I trust needs to trust them. That’s the biggest thing here. And and trust is not something you just turn on. It’s it’s earned, 

[00:33:30] Steve Fretzin: but we’re hitting, we’re hitting, you know, trust.

[00:33:32] Steve Fretzin: We’re hitting, you know, find your stressors. We’re fine. You know, we’re, we’re, you know, not every law firm that you’re dishing business and work out to you’re a 10 out of 10 happy with. Right? I mean, there’s some that you might be, there’s others that might be middle of the road that are replaceable. If you were to find a better fit, it’s just a matter of which business developer can develop the relationship, the trust and get in there, find your stressors.

[00:33:55] Steve Fretzin: And, you know, Take the door that might be open a crack and swing it open a foot and that isn’t that isn’t most attorneys that are willing to put themselves out there to to go after the general counsel and I’m training them every day to do that in this in a similar fashion that we’re talking about in they just think oh well they already have counsel they wouldn’t want to talk to me.

[00:34:13] Steve Fretzin: No, not the case. I think you have to. You have to try. 

[00:34:17] Matt Campobasso: Yeah. And to your point, and you’re absolutely right. Like, you know, there are multiple firms that we use. Um, some, you know, I don’t know that I could ever live without them. There are others where they’re getting the job done, but in my mind, there may be a better value fit from another firm.

[00:34:33] Matt Campobasso: And so, you know, one of the things I’ve seen done with great success, both with me and people I know that are GCs and decision makers at other companies. Is to your point, there’s a crack in the door. You get your foot in the door and you say, Hey, how can I help? Like, let me show you what we’ve got. And look in sometimes it’s like, Hey, we’re going to do this without cost or at a significant discount.

[00:34:52] Matt Campobasso: And it’s like, Hey, let me give you a proof of concept about why we’re a good fit. And then, you know, you revisit that six months later. And so absolutely. But to your point, I think the first step from a law firm perspective is you just got to try. And I think, you know, when I was a law firm attorney early on, before I had the benefit of like kind of seeing what would work.

[00:35:09] Matt Campobasso: And before you and I had a chance to work together years ago, I just kind of thought like, Hey, you just like, Take people to dinner or take them to a Cubs game. And it’s like, that’s just magically business appears. There’s so much more there. It’s relationship building. It’s understanding it’s putting yourself in the headspace of those decision makers and thinking, what do they prioritize?

[00:35:26] Matt Campobasso: And look, another GC might prioritize totally different things than me. And we all have different factors, right? Sometimes it’s economic. Sometimes it’s trust. Sometimes it’s what’s the type of business, what are my internal capabilities? But I think it’s just getting to know. Who you’re selling to and then really being deliberate about how you communicate with them and demonstrating your value proposition, not just as a lawyer, but for that specific business.

[00:35:48] Steve Fretzin: Well, spot on my friend. Thanks so much for coming on and sharing your wisdom. We’ve got maybe 30 seconds on our game changing book upstream. You talk to talk a little bit about that. I’ve heard of that. 

[00:35:59] Matt Campobasso: Yeah, we can bookend it with my, you know, with the Benjamin Franklin quote, prevention versus, you know, cure.

[00:36:06] Matt Campobasso: Upstream is a book that my team and I read this year. It is really colored our perspective on how we want to proceed through 2024 as a legal department. And the whole idea is how do we get ahead of these repeated issues we’re experiencing pain on and prevent them. And so the entire book, I would recommend it to anyone, lawyers.

[00:36:23] Matt Campobasso: It’s not a book about lawyers or the law. It’s just about problem solving. Healthcare is one of them. Home maintenance, um, educational issues where school systems are failing. But the concept is the same and the thread that runs through all of it is being proactive and being thoughtful up front even though you’re not going to have the parade that a firefighter gets.

[00:36:41] Matt Campobasso: You know, installing sprinklers, there’s actually intrinsically more value in doing that because it’s the problem, you know, I say this always, the best problem is one you never have. And so proactive upstream thinking to me is, is the most consistent way to avoid those problems in the first place. 

[00:36:57] Steve Fretzin: Yeah.

[00:36:58] Steve Fretzin: Awesome, man. Thank you so much, Matt. I appreciate you coming on the show. As we wrap up, I want to thank our sponsors, of course, Green Cardigan Marketing, Lawmatics, and Get Staffed Up, all great friends of the show. And, um, Matt, thanks, man. I appreciate this. I, this is a new perspective that we’re sharing today that I don’t think I’d had in, in 400 episodes.

[00:37:15] Steve Fretzin: So, you know, I think it really, it’s really impactful for people to hear. The pros and cons of the in house versus private. And then, you know, that, that they shouldn’t be afraid to go after the GCs and the softest possible way to develop trust and understand them at a, at a high level and, and, and try to get that business.

[00:37:33] Steve Fretzin: And I think sharing, sharing, shedding some light on that was super helpful. 

[00:37:37] Matt Campobasso: Well, I’m, I was happy to be here, Steve. Thanks again for having me. I really enjoyed it. 

[00:37:41] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. Yeah. And thank you everybody for spending time with Matt and I today on the, Be That Lawyer with Brettson podcast. Take care, everybody. Be safe.

[00:37:47] Steve Fretzin: Be well. We will talk again soon.

[00:37:53] Narrator: Thanks for listening to Be That Loyalty, life changing strategies and resources for growing a successful law practice. Visit Steve’s website Fretzin. com for additional information and to stay up to date on the latest legal business development and marketing trends. For more information and important links about today’s episode, check out today’s show notes.