Keep Outside Counsel in the Loop
by Ed Poll
Whether the relationship between law firms and corporate counsel is new or long-standing, every new matter involves the opportunity to establish a dialogue that can support a collaborative relationship.
In-house counsel should make clear all expectations and objectives to outside counsel at the outset. Promoting quality communication between business client and firm depends on detailed and clear communication to create a mutually beneficial relationship that is cost-effective for the client and yet profitable for the firm — particularly given that priorities between corporate clients and lawyers often diverge on controlling costs.
In-house counsel can further that understanding by bringing to the table a formal checklist that defines exactly what is expected of their outside firms.
The list should cover both qualitative issues and procedural details in such a way that outside counsel clearly knows how the client defines fundamental satisfaction. Only then can the relationship be successful.
Such a checklist could cover these items:
It is essential that the corporate client knows what its outside lawyer is doing and that the client approves of the tactics to achieve the client's goal.
By making clear all expectations and objectives right at the start of any engagement or relationship, in-house counsel give their outside lawyers as much information as possible about the goals, anticipated strategies, desired outcomes and anticipated operating guidelines for the upcoming engagement.
Making clear the client's objectives and setting forth how to meet them are essential to securing the value that the corporate world wants from outside counsel.
© Copyright 2011. Edward Poll. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from Edward Poll.
Ed Poll principal of LawBiz Management Company, is a nationally recognized coach, law firm management consultant, and author who has coached and consulted with lawyers and law firms in strategic planning, profitability analysis, and practice development. Mr. Poll has practiced law on all sides of the table for 25 years-- as a corporate general counsel, government prosecutor, sole practitioner, partner, and law firm chief operating officer and been a consultant to small and large law firms for 20 years.
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