Seek oral advice from your law firms, unless you expressly request a memorandum

This cost-control measure caught my eye in the outside-counsel guidelines of one company and in the management style of another company’s legal team. It makes sense, to my way of thinking, to have the default method of communication be oral, since talking is much more flexible, quicker, resistant to over-staffing, inexpensive, and in the control of the responsible in-house lawyer. Counseling by conversation also brings partners into the discussion much more frequently.

A law firm might believe that it has to have a written record of the advice it gives, if for no other reason than to protect it from malpractice claims. But that precaution of the firm does not mean that the law department must fund it. Perhaps law firms and law departments can reach an agreement that partially waives malpractice rights of the department when advice is delivered orally?

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