The General Counsel Survey 2009 from the Belgium-based consultants, FrahanBlondé, delves thoughtfully into the relationship partner system. I am going to blog on portions of it, but to purchase a full copy of this excellent report, please email Antoine Frahan.
The authors make the point that preferences vary among general counsel. “Some want the relationship partner to be heavily involved in the caseload, some prefer one with a more detached position.” I lean toward involvement but I appreciate that detachment serves both sides well. The more detached, however, the more you serve mostly as a neutral conduit, which takes time and may distort the message of the client. Ultimately, the client service partner will want specifics and will want to explore ways to respond.
The other aspect that the Survey comments on is the level of formality of the arrangement. Some general counsel “like a well-structured framework, while others prefer informal contacts.” Here, I lean toward clear expectations but loose arrangements. Both sides should understand clearly the purpose and powers of the relationship partner arrangement but how it actually functions month to month can and should change with circumstances.
More is available on this blog about relationship partners (See my post of July 26, 2008: relationship partners with 8 references.).