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Law department as intermediary between clients and law firms

No self-respecting in-house attorney wants to be besmirched as a relay station to outside counsel. Client calls; inside counsel speed dials; partner does the work.

It is fine and proper to be the switch when you judiciously choose the external firm, frame carefully what they are to do, and translate their legalese into practical business-speak. But mechanical pass-the-potato adds zero value (See my post of Sept. 17, 2005: outsource work rather than just pass it on; Nov. 8, 2005: specialist lawyers turn most often to outside counsel; Dec. 9, 2005: add value, don’t just passively intermediate or gatekeep; Dec. 17, 2006: ADVO’s sole lawyer was to filter and direct questions; Feb. 4, 2007: first lawyer in company might be primarily a conduit; and July 13, 2011: sometimes clients should go straight to outside firm.). Clients may rarely voice the question that troubles them, but it’s there just the same: “If you are my lawyer, why do we need to pay wads to law firms?”