Posted by: johnocunningham | August 20, 2019

“Hot Button” Issues for In-House Legal Counsel at Big Companies

Corporate legal clients told law firm audience members about their “hot button” legal service issues at the annual Legal Sales and Service Organization (“LSSO”) RainDance conference in June.

Thanks to Louise Henkel, director of business development and marketing at Hill Ward Henderson, for her notes on the input provided by the following panelists:

  • Christine Castellano, former Sr. VP, GC and Chief Compliance Officer for Ingredion, Inc.
  • Dennis Garcia, Assistant GC at Microsoft
  • Steven Heinrichs, Executive VP, GC and Chief Legal Compliance Officer at Mueller Water Products
  • Edward Paulis III, VP and Sr. Assistant GC at Zurich North America

And here is a snapshot of what panelists told law firms about their “hot button” issues with legal service:

  • Technology should be a lawyer’s “best friend” and law firm should be exploiting it more, especially with respect to hyper-cloud solutions tools.
  • Some outside lawyers still fail to communicate proactively when a matter is going South so that damage can be minimized.
  • Some outside lawyers are still failing to communicate well on all matters, and that usually results in no more business coming their way.
  • Outside lawyers who find in-house lawyers calling them regularly for updates should take that as a warning sign that communication is lagging.
  • When outside counsel does communicate, it is important to do so in “executive summary” fashion, getting to the point quickly and effectively.

Clearly, the hottest of hot buttons seem to center around communication, suggesting that outside lawyers might benefit from some formal training on how to communicate effectively with in-house contacts in way that is sensitive to their perspectives and needs (which are different from private practice).

Big kudos to moderator Julianne Hartzell, partner at Marshall Gerstein, for some excellent panel questioning.

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