Not a good mission to “try and do as much legal work as possible in-house”

A law department I recently read about boasted this strategy explicitly, which set me to wondering about its advisability. My conclusion: a bad idea.

Extended very far this logic would push a general counsel to in-source as much as possible and therefore balloon the headcount. Some lawyers would not have a full plate because the servings are too small or too infrequent. How many bankruptcy preference claims come along? Mixing both metaphor and cliché, we all recognize that to staff up to handle peaks of work plunges into the valley of the shadow of inefficiency.

It’s a bad idea to try to max out what inside counsel and staff do because they can’t see as many variations of a problem as can a partner at a firm who handles many like issues for several clients. My final attack stems from client self-service. Most people read “in-house” to mean within the legal department. Many legal-related tasks, however, can be left to clients, with a modicum of training and tools and an escape valve to check with the law department on exceptions.

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