In-house counsel should not become evaluators of the performance of the executives they advise

One notion in a recent article suggests that inside lawyers, working closely with managers throughout the company, can provide significant value as evaluators of their performance. Jason Mark Anderman writes that “in-house lawyers often know which low-performing managers are incorrectly perceived as being successful, what departments have squandered resources on unnecessary deals and when an intended acquisition no longer makes sense but is being relentlessly pursued by a corporate leader to justify her personal goals. On the positive side, in-house attorneys see which company employees are demonstrating outstanding project-management skills, making insightful decisions on which deals to close and which deals to walk away from, and maximizing the value of sales and expenses by providing tremendous value as a terrific return on investment.”

Even if this claimed insight exists, it would be highly inadvisable for inside lawyers to formally rate their clients on their managerial skills. Other than saying “no” too much, nothing would chill the (already often flickering) desire of clients to seek legal advice than the fear of being graded by their legal advisors. Lawyers for corporations not only lack the experience to assess managerial abilities but they also do not have the time to do this. Client evaluations would traumatize the fragile ecosystem.

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