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Sometimes in-house lawyers need to back away from the table

Lawyers for corporations always want a “seat at the table.” But sometimes, if the truth be told, it is a good idea not to be at the table. For example, if a business manager brings along an in-house lawyer to a meeting with another company’s executive, the mere presence of the lawyer may dampen the do-business spirit of the meeting (and I do not mean that collusion and anti-competitive behavior rears its head). A lawyer conveys to the other side significance and risk. An acute corollary of this is sending outside counsel to an EEOC hearing. “Wow,” thinks the examiner, “they must really be worried about this, so let me dig deeper.”

Some executives may dislike bringing an internal lawyer to a meeting lest the lawyer intimidate the other side or push them to bring their own lawyer (See my post of May 8, 2007: lawyers may intimidate their own clients.).

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