A contrarian argument for why in-house lawyers are more independent than external counsel

In a reversal of the normal argument that external lawyers are more objective and forceful since they can walk away, Int’l In-House Counsel J., Vol 2, Summer 2009 at 1344, puts an opposite spin. In-house counsel are not muzzled and tethered by their employment position (See my post of Jan. 22, 2009: objectivity of in-house attorneys with 11 references.).

“We note that the most in-house legal do not have to compete for legal work (at least not in the way that external counsel do). Furthermore, the in-house counsel is typically paid a salary. Being in a salaried position and employed, the in-house counsel has some security of tenure, a security that is generally not available to external counsel. This can allow the in-house counsel to confidently give legal advice, even unpopular advice, secure in the knowledge that providing such legal advice will not necessarily compromise the in-house counsel’s income stream.”

The argument for internal objectivity, because of employment status, may stand up better in countries with fewer at will employees. Still, the notion that in-house lawyers are hobbled and obsequious rankles, and I doubt that outside lawyers are any less pliable under pressure.

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