For years I have shown a slide that lists the top five relationship mistakes law firm partners can make. The worst error on that slide is “patronizing attitude.” In-house audiences always titter nervously when I show that slide, but no one disagrees with its statement. Support for it comes from a
poll in 2004 of insurance and reinsurance companies around the world. As quoted in Reactions, May 2004 at 2, one US corporate counsel put the grievance this way: “Recognize that we are the client and stop paying lip service to the fact.”
It is politically incorrect to express the residual belief by many outside counsel that if you are in truth a really good lawyer you practice in a private firm. Brains, experience, discipline, and a willingness to work crazy hours distinguish outside from inside counsel. I believe, by contrast, that there are different sets of skills and characteristics that distinguish the two sides, and neither is privileged.