Working with In-House Counsel: Practice Management Tips for Associates

In the previous blogs, I shared insights on building productive relationships with in-house counsel based on advice provided by an in-house counsel panel at a Los Angeles Intellectual Property Law Association meeting. The panel also offered practice management tips specifically for associates who want to distinguish themselves in their work with in-house counsel so they can get ahead and make partner. Many of these points are good reminders for partners as well.

To read the first post of this series, click here.

  • Exceed in-house counsel’s expectations. View every contact as an opportunity to distinguish yourself through your expertise and superior client service.
  • Familiarize yourself with in-house counsel’s organization and the industry. Read the annual report. Know who the company’s customers are and why they are buying its products.
  • Think beyond just meeting your own deadline. Remember that in-house counsel is working on several matters, not just yours. Like you, in-house counsel has multiple deadlines, so be sensitive to timing and do what you can to make their life easier.
  • Always respond to emails and voicemails promptly. Getting back to in-house counsel quickly, again and again, builds the relationship. If you leave a voicemail asking in-house counsel to call you, be prepared for the call. Don’t ask them to give you a call any time and then be unprepared when they do. If you need time to prepare, tell them when you’ll be ready to talk.
  • Take the lead and be in-house counsel’s point of contact, but know your limitations. For example, if you’re asked a question that exceeds your authority or expertise, let in-house counsel know you’ll have to check with a partner. Keep them informed of your progress in obtaining an answer.

The next blog will cover the advice the panel provided specifically for law firms and getting your foot in the door.

Click to read more about our marketing and public relations experience for intellectual property law firms.

For more information about the Los Angeles Intellectual Property Association click here.


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