Do law firms make you feel insecure when they appear before clients, or do they make you look good?

Some in-house lawyers prevent partners from law firms having direct contact with senior executives, partly from a fear of being upstaged and supplanted. “If the partner comes across as smarter, more experienced, more likeable, what will become of me?” A natural fear, so it was good to read in the ACC Docket, Vol. 27, March 2009 at 14, the solid wisdom of Sabine Chalmers, the chief legal officer of Anheuser-Busch InBev.

“A common instinct of in-house lawyers is to get the external advisors as far away from the clients as possible — often out of the mistaken notion that they may make the in-house team look redundant. If you choose the right advisors, quite the opposite is true — not only will you look smart for having made the right choice for the company, but the whole exercise will ensure that the external lawyers have skin in the game as a result of being in the same firing line as the internal team. It will also ensure that your key stakeholders have the same sense of confidence in your advisors that you did — especially when you hit bumps in the road, which you eventually will.”

Solid and progressive thinking, I believe. Each side brings its own value to clients (See my post of Dec. 27, 2008: gatekeeping independence of inside and outside counsel.).

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