The volatile mixture of legal and business advice by in-house counsel – some metrics

One of the most intractable issues in the management of in-house lawyers concerns the line between their rendering legal advice and their rendering business advice. That divide, which may be an omelet that can’t be reversed to eggs, implicates client expectations of in-house counsel, attorney-client privilege, workloads, training and professional development, and the basic orientation of the department to how it adds value.

Metrics on this issue, therefore are most welcome. E. Norman Veasey and Christine T. Di Guglielmo, in the Bus. Lawyer, Vol. 62, Nov. 2006 at 27, cite a study by Professor Vincent Alexander in the late 1980s. Alexander found that “47.8% of outside counsel and 46.7% of in-house counsel said that they give business advice frequently” (at footnote 92). I can’t think of any reason why those percentages would change appreciably two decades later, so there is at least one metrical baseline for how commonly corporate lawyers take a position on business grounds.

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