How did Megaport’s Senior Legal Counsel grow her passion project into a thriving side hustle while successfully balancing her career? Mel Scott shared how she did it, and how with courage, persistence, and the right employer behind you, you can do the same.
Have you ever wanted to pursue a passion outside of work, but didn’t quite know how to get started? That was Mel once.
Megaport’s Senior Legal Counsel isn’t your average in-house lawyer. Bubbly, creative, and full of bright ideas, if Mel wants to try something new, she won’t let anyone stop her. Seriously, back in 2016 she lived on chicken and broccoli for nine months to compete in a bodybuilding competition, just to see if she could do it. (Spoiler – she did.)
But after ruminating on an idea to start her own podcast to connect isolated in-house lawyers in disparate industries around the world, even she had to wonder if she was being overly ambitious. She’d never done anything like it before. What if it flopped? What if she couldn’t manage to juggle it with her career? But after working up the courage, she did what she always ends up doing – she gave it her best shot.
Fast forward 18 months and Mel’s podcast, Counsel, has grown to reach more than 24 countries globally, amassed thousands of loyal listeners, and even attracted brand sponsors. Her journey had no shortage of challenges, but it showed her just how much she was capable of achieving – especially with Megaport behind her.
We spoke to Mel about what Counsel is all about, how she grew the project, and why you shouldn’t be afraid to share your story.
MP1: Hi, Mel! To start, tell us about Counsel.
Mel: It can be lonely working as an in-house lawyer. Often, you’re the only one in the entire company! Humans need connection and community now more than ever, and even lawyers aren’t exempt. But working as an in-house lawyer is also a fun, challenging, and vibrant career path for any lawyer.
With Counsel, I want to create this community and shine a light on a growing section of the legal profession, because really, there’s never been a more exciting time to be an in-house lawyer.
MP1: How did you start Counsel?
Mel: I wanted to make this podcast for at least two years before I actually started. But at first, I didn’t have the confidence and I was still growing into my new role at Megaport.
When we were all sent home full-time during Brisbane’s first COVID-19 lockdown in April 2020, I found myself with more time available on the weekend than ever before. That’s when I knew it was time to start this passion project and see where I could take it.
MP1: How did Counsel grow from an idea to the success it is today?
Mel: I love podcasts. The medium is so powerful; humans have always loved hearing each other’s stories.
When I started Counsel, I completely bootstrapped it and spent about $250 – half of it on the microphone. I documented my journey on my Instagram, @theinhouselawyer, and have loved every minute of it.
The podcast has now had over 25,000 downloads in more than 24 countries around the world. I’ve interviewed in-house lawyers from Canva, Who Gives A Crap, and University of Kentucky, to name a few. Some pretty special guests are also in the works, including influential lawyers from the NFT and cryptocurrency space!
MP1: What would you say is the biggest thing you have learned about yourself on this journey?
Mel: I don’t like being a beginner at something.
I didn’t start my podcast for so many years because, honestly, I just didn’t want to suck at something new! I’ve learned to be patient and kind with myself as I learn, grow, and evolve my technical audio editing, interviewing, and storytelling skills.
It’s taken 18 months, and I’m now really proud of the quality of each episode. From guest onboarding to post-production and social media marketing, it’s a well-oiled and automated content machine.
MP1: What was the biggest challenge in starting and growing this podcast, and how did you overcome it?
Mel: The biggest challenge was the old “what will people think?” story in my head. I was concerned about what my colleagues would think, what my peers would think, what my friends would think.
I have been incredibly thoughtful in showcasing my project as something that doesn’t affect my ability to show up and deliver a high standard of work for Megaport. However, I shouldn’t have been so concerned. Most people only want you to succeed, and if they don’t, at least I haven’t heard about it to my face.
Another challenge – time. It takes longer to edit than I expected. Saturday mornings are usually spent editing while my husband Troy plays a round of golf (his passion). However, now that I have sponsorship money coming in, I can outsource this work to a virtual assistant (via Upwork – great find) and buy back my time! Such a win!
MP1: How has Megaport supported you to start and grow Counsel?
Mel: It simply wouldn’t have been possible to grow this project into what it is without the support of my leader, Anna Tichborne. Anna even made a guest appearance and let me interview her!
My team supports my passion too. My colleagues often comment on their favorite episode, and they aren’t even lawyers! It always warms my heart to hear they’ve spent their precious time listening to me chat about all things in-house.
Recently, Megaport’s CMO Eric Troyer even reached out to me to ask how the marketing team could help promote the podcast. That was the genesis of this blog, yet another example of the support I have received. I’m incredibly grateful.
MP1: And when it comes to work/life balance, how does Megaport compare to other places, in your experience?
Mel: We have something pretty unique here. The difference is that we talk the talk, and we walk the walk. Megaport’s work/life balance spiel isn’t just lip service; it’s genuinely something that’s encouraged.
Here, people don’t notice “time at desk” as a marker of valuable work. From what I see, our Megaport leaders trust their team to deliver high-quality work; how and when this happens is fluid, flexible, and truly supported. If the legal team, traditionally seen as a pretty dry group of people (lol), can have a life outside of work, then everyone can!
MP1: Where do you see Counsel going in the near (and distant) future? Where do you want it to go?
Mel: It could be a legal media empire one day, haha! But really, why not dream big? Just quietly, I could totally see myself as a media mogul.
More realistically, I’m looking forward to working with my first sponsors to deliver brand exposure for them and quality, relevant offerings for my community.
MP1: What would your advice be to anyone who wants to pursue a passion outside of work?
Mel: Maintain open and transparent communication with your manager and other relevant stakeholders in your workplace. It’s important that they trust you to keep a respectful balance, and communication will be key in this regard. If in doubt – disclose. If you’re scared of what the reaction might be, you could be in the wrong workplace.
Apart from that, go for it! It will make you a happier and healthier person which only brings good things to your work life and, in turn, your employer.
MP1: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Mel: Everyone—and I mean everyone—has a story.
Your story is powerful. Your voice is powerful. Don’t be afraid to use it.
You can find more info about Mel’s podcast at www.counselpodcast.com and stream episodes now on Spotify, Apple, and Google. Even if you’re not an in-house lawyer, you’ll get excellent career and life advice from some of the greatest legal and business minds out there.
Keep up to date with Mel on Instagram at @inhouselawyer.