In-house Counsel Need to Be Proactive About Internal Lawyering

I know I've failed as in-house counsel when I hear by accident about a new project or transaction of my non-profit organization. If that happens I haven't done my job. One of the primary reasons for having and paying for inside counsel is to keep the organization on the legal straight and narrow as efficiently as possible. If the in-house lawyer is finding out about new projects only as they are about to launch, much of the advantage of being in-house is lost. You might as well be outside counsel. It's not a good position to be in either for the lawyer or the organization.

Over the years I have preached to my colleagues, in the words of the old Fram oil filter commercials, to "pay me now, or pay me later." By that I mean they should bring in the lawyer early for every new project or transaction. Because, again in the words of Fram, if they don't "pay me now" (so to speak) they will surely "pay me later" as I try to play catch-up in identifying, then heading off, any legal complications.


Bruce D. Collins

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