On my desk I have a plaque from Slovenia a friend picked up for me on one of her travels. The painting shows two men fighting over a cow who fail to notice as a third man milks the cow. The words translate into what I am sure is one of the world’s oldest lawyer’s jokes. “While the farmers fight over the cow, the lawyer gets all the cream.”
Yes, I am a lawyer. (And I appreciate lawyer jokes, as long as they don’t involve 10,000 of us dead at the bottom of the ocean). In fact, I am one of five lawyers who work in NPPD’s General Counsel’s Office. NPPD saves a lot of money by having its own attorneys on staff. In-house counsel help keep costs down, which helps keep electric rates affordable.
So, why does NPPD need in house attorneys? Although litigation is part of what we do, we typically are not in a court room on a daily basis. NPPD has legal needs that include contractual issues, transactional business, and personnel matters just like any other big company with more than 2,000 employees. But unlike other companies, NPPD is a complex public utility subject to many state and federal regulatory guidelines, and it is of constant importance to ensure legal compliance.
Laws, regulations, rules, policies, and procedures are like chalk lines on a baseball field. As long as you keep the ball between the lines, your hit is fair; if you go outside of them, your hit is foul. We lawyers get to be umpires of the game. Much of the legal work we do at NPPD is to recognize and define the boundaries our teammates must work within while seeking to accomplish the company’s goals. Sure, we have to deal with a few foul balls, now and then, but the better we do our jobs the more likely they are to knock it out of the park!
As lawyers go (“Please!” Groucho Marx might have said … ta dum) I am blessed. I have great “clients.” I am paid on time, and I never get called at 2 a.m. to bail them out of jail. Who are these wonderful clients? All the employees of NPPD. I work for them, and they, in turn, work for you, our customers, to provide low-cost, reliable power. And that’s no joke.