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7 Tips For Healthy Outside And General Counsel Relationship

  • In-house legal professionals are vital for the smooth functioning of all enterprises. However, in many situations, companies need specialized legal assistance. This requires the outside and general counsel to work together for fulfilling the objective. For instance, when a corporation begins its operations in a new foreign location, it will have to hire attorneys with extensive knowledge of local regulations. The resident advisor will have to work with the outside professionals to formulate effective strategies for different issues like compliance, taxation, etc. It is essential that both counselors build a healthy working relationship which will benefit the organization. There are various areas ranging from quality of work to billing in which disagreements can arise. Whether a business engages outside general counsel services or has a permanent consultant, the following suggestions will be helpful in building a dynamic partnership between the attorneys.     
    1. Convey Expectations To The External Attorney
    The best way to create a strong foundation for the association is by clearly communicating the organization’s expectation to the temporary consultant. This will minimize the scope for doubt and help avoid conflicts in the future. Encourage the external attorneys to state their expectations also so that the organization can take care of their interests. Discuss with them how the task will be completed and how both sides will communicate with each other. It will also be pertinent to explain the company’s working system to the engaged personnel so that they can make adjustments in time.  
    2. Explain The Enterprise’s Objectives Clearly
    A specialist lawyer is hired by enterprises to fulfill a specific objective. However, one particular aim may consist of numerous cases. It is essential that both experts understand each other perfectly in order to resolve all the different issues efficiently. Constant communication holds the key to building a strong alliance. Set realistic goals for each case and convey them to the independent counsel. Make sure they understand the business implications of the different possible outcomes in each instance. This will help them in creating an effective strategy for all the issues and work in a synchronized manner with the company’s legal team.
    3.  Outline The Budget For The Project
    One of the major causes of conflict between the general counsel attorney and the hired professional is billing. Many business owners complain of receiving unexpected large bills from the nonresident advisers. They and their GC are themselves to blame for this kind of situation which has arisen as a budget was not earmarked right at the outset. Treat the association as a project and discuss with the temporary counselor the expected timeframe for the work. This will give both sides a fair idea about the expenses involved in the project and eliminate confusion and dispute in the future.
    4. Foster The Partnership By Building Trust
    Trust is one of the most vital factors for building a healthy relationship between the outside and general counsel. It forms the core of all fruitful and enduring professional associations. It is necessary that both parties have confidence in each other. If an organization wants to get effective advice, then it must provide the lawyers with accurate information. Both the attorneys must exchange notes at regular intervals and make sure that the other side knows about all new developments. This will be helpful in creating a partnership which will help the enterprise in the future as well.   
    5. Provide Extensive Feedback To The Outside Lawyer
    Thoroughly professional independent counselors ask the in-house lawyers for feedback on their work. This helps them understand whether they are on the right track and fulfilling the expectations of the commercial organization. Even if the professional does not ask for the response, the GC must make it a point to do so. Conduct meetings at regular intervals to review the work. Mention all the areas where the consultant has done good work. At the same time, identify the areas which need improvement. This will help both sides to review their plans and keep them productive.  
    6. Make Bill Payments On Time
    A business requires specialist advice from time to time and it is possible that it will need the services of the same non-resident expert regularly. It will be sensible to build a long-term association with such persons. The best way to do so is by approving their bills and paying them on time. Everyone likes an employer who clears the dues and pays the total amount promptly. This will encourage the attorney to work with the enterprise in the future.
    7. Use Technology For Seamless Workflow
    Many times, a partnership is broken not because of serious disagreements but minor irritants like slow response time or late bill payments. In many organizations, the primary cause for such behavior is not an unhealthy work culture but an inefficient workflow. They are so caught up in their own work that they take time to respond to a query by the freelancer or are unable to clear the invoices in time. The in-house lawyers must advise their employers to use technological solutions to streamline the workflow. There are various platforms which are made for collaborative work and have in-built timekeeping and bill-generating features. Such solutions help in improving the communication between partners and also reduce the time taken to conduct tasks. This has a positive impact on the overall efficiency of the association and helps in improving its productivity.
    The relationship between the outside and general counsel of a corporation is built upon mutual respect and trust. Open and clear communication between both parties is essential for fostering a long association which will help the enterprise meet its objectives successfully.