The world of an in-house lawyer is strikingly different from law-firm life. The client and the client’s problems are not limited to the discrete legal matters that land in your office: your client and your responsibilities become all encompassing. The tsunami of new responsibilities can quickly overwhelm an in-house lawyer. This presentation will help distill these responsibilities in order to help in-house lawyers of all experience levels enter, survive, and thrive in the in-house world.
A lawyer just entering the in-house world must understand how to apply professional responsibilities to their new client: their employer. An in-house lawyer has three main areas to consider ethically:
- Understanding who their new client is and how interacting day-to day with their client’s employees, agents, and directors may quickly complicate their ethical duties. Entrenched within the day-to-day workings on their client, in-house lawyers must understand how their professional duty to the client interplays with their interactions for their client’s employees, officers, and directors.
- Protecting their client’s confidential information under the attorney-client privilege, particularly when legal advice intersects with business advice. The best in-house lawyers will know their client well, and that knowledge means any advice will often mix legal advice with business advice, where the attorney-client privilege may not apply.
- Learning their role in corporate governance. For governance, in-house lawyers determine their role with respect to corporate governance matters, identifying when their board and other committees needs independent counsel. They must also learn what to do when they discover wrongdoing. Finally, in-house lawyers must help set the cultural tone and understand how governance is an integral part of the corporation’s value.