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For each of your primary law firms, assign an in-house lawyer to be the relationship manager

Many law firms designate a partner to serve as the liaison between the firm and a major client – a relationship partner. Law departments should do the same, and not just for symmetry. It’s sensible.

Someone in the law department should be accountable for how the department interacts with a primary firm, for fielding questions and problems from the law firm about how the law department acts, and for collecting evaluations and data for periodic meetings with that firm.

The in-house relationship counsel should be chosen with care, with an eye to a person who wants the attorney-client relationship to flourish. Relationship counsels need to think and act as mediators, project managers, disciplinarians, and consultants.