Welcome to Reuters Legal News beta. Please enjoy and provide us with your feedback as we continue to improve the Reuters Legal News experience.

Skip to main content
Skip to floating mini video

In-House Counsel Q&A with Erin Ziaja of NFP Corp.

3 minute read


Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

The company and law firm names shown above are generated automatically based on the text of the article. We are improving this feature as we continue to test and develop in beta. We welcome feedback, which you can provide using the feedback tab on the right of the page.

Practical Law Journal: Litigation recently spoke to Erin Ziaja, of NFP Corp., about what leads her to outside counsel & what they can do to impress her.

PLJ: What is keeping your company’s litigation attorneys the busiest at the moment?

Erin Ziaja: Since the courts resumed regular operations in 2021, there has been a great amount of case management activity on existing matters that had largely been on hold.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Additionally, despite technology assistance for functions such as implementing legal holds and invoice processing, the administrative tasks associated with managing litigation are incredibly time-consuming.

PLJ: How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the way your department operates?

Erin Ziaja: As a global company, NFP’s legal department was used to providing remote assistance. Now, it just happens to be from our kitchen tables. We formalized weekly team meetings to check in on each other and our work progress. Connecting, even if only through Zoom, provided insight into each other’s personal lives, such as by allowing people to meet each other’s kids and pets, and made for a more cohesive team. Seeing the success of working from home, NFP will continue utilizing a hybrid work model.

PLJ: What types of issues will cause you to turn to outside counsel?

Erin Ziaja: Increasingly, we utilize regional counsel to proactively assess the impact that state law changes may have on the organization. Additionally, we are mindful of the implications for attorney-client privilege in highly sensitive matters and will engage outside counsel to oversee the investigatory process.

PLJ: What three things does a law firm need to do to impress you?

Erin Ziaja: A law firm should:

  • Quickly establish subject matter expertise and a well-articulated litigation strategy.
  • Use NFP’s time and money wisely.
  • Staff our cases with a diverse team of smart attorneys.

PLJ: What is the best career advice you ever received?

Erin Ziaja: Take your job seriously, but do not take yourself too seriously. In litigation, clients are often stressed, angry, or worried. Your job is to get them through that tough time to the best possible outcome. If you can do that with humor and humility, you will have better interactions and quicker resolutions.

Erin Ziaja

PLJ: What is one mistake you made early on in your legal career and what did you learn from it?

Erin Ziaja: I never networked. I thought it was enough to keep my head down and produce good work, but that is not the case. You must put yourself out there. That was hard for an introvert like me until I realized I had been conflating networking with going to large, formal networking events. Now, I focus on small group activities I enjoy, like lunch with colleagues and volunteering. I have even networked over goat yoga.

PLJ: What advice would you give to prospective in-house litigation counsel?

Erin Ziaja: Know that as in-house counsel, you will acquire new skills in areas such as finance or business management, but your litigation skills will deteriorate. It is unlikely that there will be any more adrenaline-pumping moments, like running into court for a temporary restraining order, or war stories about how you got the admission on cross-examination. For most of us who transition to in-house, that chapter is closed, which can be hard for a litigator to accept.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Opinions expressed are those of the author. They do not reflect the views of Reuters News, which, under the Trust Principles, is committed to integrity, independence, and freedom from bias. Thomson Reuters Institute is owned by Thomson Reuters and operates independently of Reuters News.

The Thomson Reuters Institute brings together people from across the legal, corporate, tax & accounting, and government communities to ignite conversation and debate, make sense of the latest events and trends, and provide essential guidance on the opportunities and challenges facing their world today.

More from Reuters