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“We hate surprises,” say general counsel, and law firms should take heed

On the first page of the JDS Uniphase guidelines for outside counsel gleams the distinctly un-lawyerly sentence “We hate surprises.” That dramatic and clear statement leads off two paragraphs about the utter importance of prompt and full communication between law firms and the law department (See my post of Aug. 15, 2008: case status reports as one suggestion.). No one likes surprises, and even with the best intentions the world throws everyone 12:00 to 6:00 curveballs (for those who don’t follow baseball, that is a curve that breaks down abruptly from noon to six). It’s best to inculcate full and fast disclosure.

If there is one hallmark of a trusting partner relationship, it is openness. As the same guidelines trenchantly say, “We will fail without superior and thoughtful communication with you.”

For more, see my blook on outside counsel management.