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Ways a general counsel can cut down on direct retentions by clients of outside lawyers

Many companies officially adhere to a policy that “Only the law department may retain external counsel.” The rule generally honored, infractions still pop up here and there. What can a GC do?

Make sure there is a clearly-worded corporate policy easily obtained by everyone in the company.

Continually repeat and explain the policy to clients at all levels (See my post of Oct. 31, 2010: repeat key messages over and over and then again.).

Encourage law department staff to report situations of non-compliance.

Tell every law firm you retain that it may only deal with and through the law department. State that obligation in your outside counsel guidelines.

Ask law firms to let you know about firms that break the rule, if they uncover instances. It is in their interest to advise you of infractions.

Inform accounts payable to draw checks only to law firms authorized by the law department.