How to Impress In-House Counsel: Be Prepared, Be Responsive

Author: Admin User | December 27, 2010

In the last two blogs, I shared some insights on communicating with and budgeting for in-house counsel based on advice provided by a panel at a Los Angeles Intellectual Property Law Association meeting. The current blog reflects the panel’s recommendations on being prepared and responsive. Taking these simple but often overlooked measures will help you create a productive, long-term relationship with in-house counsel. To read the first post of this series, click here.

  • Be prepared. In-house counsel works with, and is accountable to, various business units and technical experts in their companies. These people are not legal professionals; they have jobs to do, so don’t waste their time. Do your homework, know your witnesses, and have a working knowledge of the company’s business, culture, industry, and regulatory issues. For example, if you are poorly prepared to take a deposition from such an in-house expert, he or she will likely tell in-house counsel about your attempts to wing it. Your actions will impact in-house counsel’s credibility because they hired you.
  • Know the technology related to your project. If you’re involved in a case concerning cellular siting, know the fundamentals well enough to be able to ask intelligent questions in your depositions. Also, if you’re using technical equipment in depositions and meetings, know how it works and have it ready to go.
  • Be responsive. Business people like certainty, so don’t make them wait for a day before you respond to an email. Always keep in-house counsel informed and give them the comfort of knowing that you’ve got things under control. For example, if you hear from in-house counsel just as you’re boarding a plane, let them know you’ll handle it as soon as you arrive at your hotel.
  • Don’t make in-house counsel do homework over the weekend. Don’t wait until Friday afternoon to submit work with a Friday deadline, forcing in-house counsel to review it on Saturday. Build in enough time to avoid pushing in-house counsel to the wall.
  • More good advice from the panel on building relationships and working with in-house counsel will follow in the next blog.

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