The four most important attributes of an in-house lawyer, but unbalanced emphasis

A panelist at the Georgetown University’s Center for the Study of the Legal Profession conference on March 9th, remarked that a successful in-house lawyer needs four attributes. He listed knowledge (what the lawyer knows), skills (how the lawyer applies that knowledge), behavior (what the lawyer does while applying that knowledge) and attitude (what the lawyer believes). Nothing new here to many readers, I suspect, but the quartet rang true and useful for me.

Most client satisfaction surveys dwell on technical knowledge and its practical application. They inquire less about desk-side manner or philosophical framework. For that matter, with evaluations of law firms the first two attributes also dominate: legal experience and applied know-how. The tenor changes a bit with annual evaluations of lawyers, which may emphasize collegiality, shared culture and other attributes somewhat more along with the traditional pair.

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