🏎️ Why Tesla’s GC doesn’t rely on big firms when he needs outside counsel

Yusuf Mohamed became Tesla’s general counsel six years ago (after applying on LinkedIn! Shoot your shot, everybody!). Tesla founder Elon Musk may be doing everything from designing the truck of the future to sending people into space, but most of Mohamed’s time is spent on the legal work required for growing a company fast -- from 10,000 employees when he started to more than 40,000 today. 

In an interview with Daily Report Online, Mohamed discussed a few strategies for his work at Tesla: 

In-house vs outside: Mohamed typically relies on a staff of 13 attorneys for internal clients. When something requires litigation, he often hires outside counsel. 

Skipping the big firms: When faced with litigation, Mohamed, who did not work for Big Law and whose previous employers include the Department of Labor and Wayne Farms, does not usually hire one big firm. He picks and chooses lawyers that are the right fit for different pieces of the litigation: “I like to hire lawyers, not law firms,” he told Daily Report Online. “I like to hire talent, not law firm brands.”       

What he looks for in talent: Mohamed emphasizes hiring outside lawyers who know local judges. The best of these lawyers, he says, sometimes don’t work for big firms.