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In-house counsel should not be simply the “gatekeeper” between outside counsel and corporate clients

A piece by a Thomson & Knight partner states what must have seemed obvious to that person: “The in house attorney is the gatekeeper between the outside lawyers and their management.” I challenge that assumption of necessarily serving as an intermediary and watchdog.

Where the in-house counsel can add knowledge of the business, practical experience with the legal issue, or insights of strategy and nuance, the heavy lifting should be by outside counsel and let the inside lawyer step aside. Clients wonder about the value added by their colleague lawyers as it is.

Unless the inside lawyer adds value, let the outside lawyer speak directly to the client.

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