From the perspective of an attorney who’s been there, done that, overall efficiency and the “work/life balance” of both a large corporation’s legal department and Big Law can be influenced in quite a few ways by an in-house attorney.
Jason Mark Anderman (pictured here) recently posted in Corporate Counsel about his experiences in a Fortune 500 corporation, handling contracts. His biggest concern was that the workload wouldn’t be as challenging as when he had been practicing law at a firm. That wasn’t the case at all. “I still received work in my…areas of expertise but also handled… commercial leases, construction deals, life sciences sales, manufacturing arrangements, capital equipment matters and supply agreements.”
If just reading that list makes the reader wince, that’s what life was like as in-house counsel for a large medical technology corporation. His skill set improved considerably, most notably his drafting quality. But along the way, he found room for a few improvements within the structure of the company.
Although he realized that compromise is crucial in all arenas, he came to see that well-placed changes might offer solutions which would increase efficiency.
For instance, law departments, he said, tend to be “flat places”. By that, he means that “it’s routine for a newly-hired lawyer to be doing the exact same work as an associate general counsel.” He would prefer to see someone who’s familiar with the ins-and-outs of a company to provide a different role within the infrastructure.
Anderman also likens the legal resources to one big pool of money…some going to outside counsel, some to in-house attorneys. He supports the concept that monies and brain power can be better allocated by taking the in-house attorney’s workload, outsourcing it to a third-party legal provider, and having that provider product “higher-quality work in a timely manner for a lower price”.
That, Anderman believes, would leave “transactional attorneys” [who are hired to write contracts that protect clients when things go wrong; see resource, below] to “develop the best knowledge management systems” they can. Anderman would also have this in-house attorney deploying these systems with law firms and legal process outsourcing companies. They would do this using document assembly and workflow software.
For more on Anderman’s efficiency-promoting ideas, go to: http://www.law.com/jsp/cc/PubArticleCC.jsp?id=1202486606028&Whats_Wrong_InHouse_Lawyers__Falling_Out_of_Love_With_Your_Career
And if you’d like to read a thought-provoking definition of a transactional attorney, go here: http://civpro.blogs.com/civil_procedure/2004/03/we_imagine_the_.html http://www.law.com/jsp/cc/PubArticleCC.jsp?id=1202486606028&Whats_Wrong_InHouse_Lawyers__Falling_Out_of_Love_With_Your_Career