Managing Outside Counsel – Pleasure or Pain?

My last post, about alternative fee arrangements, generated a lot (relatively) of comments from both private practice and in-house lawyers. It seems that there is a desire on Slaw to discuss the often hidden world of interactions between private practice lawyers and their in-house counterparts. Having recently made the switch myself, I’ve found that part of my job to be incredibly interesting and rewarding.

While I don’t plead cases anymore, I am still involved in complex legal issues, but am focused more on providing business-orientated advice – making sure that I enable my colleagues to accomplish their mission rather than serving as an impediment or being perceived as the “the lawyer who says no”. Instead of managing files, I manage a team, strategy and the delegation of files (which seems to be an art in and of itself).

Finding new outside counsel, negotiating fee agreements and delegating files (large and small) have allowed me to combine both the business and legal sides of my practice. Working for a company that’s just starting up in Canada has allowed me to take on each of those tasks from scratch and develop a plan. For my next series of posts, I thought I’d examine those three main tasks in more detail. I’d love to have your thoughts and input on what else we could discuss.

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