This on-the-money quote appears in the NYSBA J., Oct. 2010 at 37, and is attributed to a senior lawyer at United Technologies. It hits the right note.
In-house lawyers give their advice as part of a larger business problem. They are rarely king of the hill, with pivotal decisions resting on their statutory interpretation, decision analysis, or other legal legerdemain. Always, financial considerations, risks to reputation or business, resource constraints, competitive tactics, and host of other business factors overlay and dominate executive decisions.
For this reason, lawyers mostly react to business problems; for this reason client satisfaction matters most highly; and for this reason knowledge of the business stands on a par with knowledge of the law for in-house counsel.