Strategies for Fostering Productive Corporate Counsel Relationships By Elizabeth Weldon and Lindsey Martinez


Originally published in Orange County Business Journal June 6-12 2011.

Productive relationships between corporate and outside counsel are essential to efficient management of corporate legal matters. While every matter and relationship is different, the strategies shared below could be applicable to a range of matters, from bet-the-company litigation to small stakes transactional work, and can be used to help define and create an environment for mutual success.

1. Set Up Effective Communication at the Beginning of the Relationship

Effective communication between corporate and outside counsel creates the high level of trust and confidence needed to achieve the client's business goals. In order to achieve clear and strong communications at the outset of a legal matter or relationship, both corporate and outside counsel should openly discuss their needs and as well as how they prefer to communicate. For some, email communications are the best way to manage a busy practice, but for others a phone call is a better way to differentiate an important communication from the overwhelming number of email correspondence received. Whatever the mode of communication, counsel should take care that it is tailored to the matter and the individual participants. One of the first topics of communication should be creating a strategy for the matter. Outside counsel is often responsible for providing a proposed and defined strategy – with the assistance and approval of corporate counsel – and should give the in-house counsel team updates as that plan necessarily changes over the course of the matter. It is important for corporate counsel to participate in the creation of the strategy, as these early decisions will be guiding outside counsels' actions and costs for the duration of the matter.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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