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Common Mistakes Made By New In-House Counsel

sad lawyer litigator in front of building

No, no, no! This isn’t occurring. This isn’t occurring. (by way of Getty Pictures)

It’s laborious to consider that it’s been over six years since I left Biglaw to hitch an organization and that I can not declare that I’m new to being in-house counsel.

Trying again over my time, I’ve definitely discovered a factor or two. Listed here are some widespread errors I made or noticed.

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Advising In A Silo

I distinctly bear in mind visiting considered one of my enterprise shopper areas for the primary time. For the sake of this story, let’s name them Avenue Q. At Avenue Q, I used to be launched to a room filled with stakeholders on the tail finish of an everyday enterprise assembly. After the assembly, I used to be stopped whereas I used to be on my means out and was requested a query. Desirous to please and make impression — and assured in my reply to the authorized query, I shared my authorized opinion.

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Inside a number of hours, I used to be shocked to obtain a name from a authorized colleague from a unique division. Shocked as a result of I didn’t understand that my work cellphone quantity even labored but! After introductions and somewhat small speak, she requested me if I not too long ago gave recommendation to Avenue Q, and I proudly stated sure, assured in my authorized prowess and anticipated a thanks for taking it off her to-do record.

Little did I do know that Avenue Q was partaking in some discussion board purchasing and had already consulted with my authorized colleague earlier than asking “the brand new lady,” me — who gave a unique reply, with none background or historic information.

Yeah … don’t be me. Be sure you seek the advice of necessary stakeholders, together with your individual workforce.

Solely Giving The Authorized Evaluation

Whereas as in-house counsel, we’re clearly legal professionals and supply authorized recommendation — enterprise shoppers can get annoyed if that’s all you do. Offering the authorized professionals and cons and dangers is simply half of the job. The opposite half is to think about the sensible ramifications of the choices introduced and serving to the shopper attain an affordable choice that greatest fulfills the “why” of stated challenge or of the corporate. And in some instances, a part of the job can be serving to the enterprise shopper defend its choice to different stakeholders, which frequently includes stating that “authorized accredited it.”

As a result of there’s extra to the job than merely giving the authorized evaluation, because of this I warning in opposition to having an everyday follow the place enterprise shoppers go on to exterior counsel. In-house counsel, who often have a greater, extra intimate understanding of the enterprise targets of any given challenge, in addition to any politics that could be concerned, ought to be part of the method.

Failing To Confirm

Isn’t the saying “belief, however confirm?” There are occasions when new legal guidelines turn out to be efficient, and shoppers want to easily comply. And in case your earlier roles have solely been as exterior counsel, it’s possible you’ll be below the misunderstanding that each one it’s a must to do is to supply the brand new legislation to your shopper.

In actuality, you might also want to supply concepts on how to adjust to the legislation — and observe up to make sure that well timed modifications are made. Whereas your position might be not execution, “it wasn’t me” nonetheless isn’t a fantastic look.


Meyling Mey Ly OrtizMeyling “Mey” Ly Ortiz is in-house at Toyota Motor North America. Her passions embody mentoring, championing belonging, and a private weblog: TheMeybe.com. At dwelling, you could find her doing her greatest to be a “enjoyable” mother to a toddler and preschooler and chasing her greatest self on her Peloton. You may observe her on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/meybe/). And also you knew this was coming: her opinions are hers alone.

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