A long-time observer of the corporate legal scene in Australia, Peter Turner believes that “Maintaining professional standards and independence in an increasingly tough and unforgiving business environment is perhaps the greatest single challenge that the in-house profession will face in coming years.” Turner is the former CEO of the venerable Australian Corporate Lawyers Association (ACLA) and before that the general counsel of Fosters, so his views cannot be taken lightly. He wrote this for his chapter in Benny Tabalujan, ed. Leadership and Management Challenges of In-House Legal Counsel(LexisNexis Australia 2008) at 10.
Remaining professional as a lawyer counts significantly and poses periodic challenges, I will concede. Even so, as compared to productivity, cost, knowledge of the business, and team contribution, is independence the Achilles heel of in-side lawyers? Do outside counsel tout their supposed independence and objectivity, and make much of the employed lawyer as bending under pressure, as a significant truth or more as a marketing ploy? If business executives want pliant lawyers, why would they see stiff-necked hardliners outside as attractive?