Month: November 2016

Ten Things: Preparing Outside Counsel Guidelines – The Keys

Managing your relationship with outside counsel can be challenging.  The good ones work hard to make it easy but, even so, there are times when you and your outside lawyers are not on the same page.  One of the areas where this is most common is billing.  In short, what should you expect to pay for and what should you not expect to see on a bill?  Moreover, there is the issue of logistics, i.e., when do you need to get the bills, what information needs to be included, etc.  There are many facets of your relationship with outside counsel that you need to think about and constantly manage.  One way to do this is through an engagement letter.  While this is a good device to manage some aspects of a particular project, the better path is to create and maintain a set of “Outside Counsel Guidelines” — a standing set of rules for how you and your outside counsel will interact on key issues, especially on billing.

Most in-house legal departments have such guidelines ranging from a few pages to over 50 pages or more.  Some newer or smaller legal departments may not have any guidelines at all.  Regardless of where you find yourself on the continuum of “got them” to “don’t got them,” as we near the end of the year this is the perfect time to either plan on creating guidelines in 2017 or updating the guidelines you already have on the shelf.  If you’re in the latter position, it might be time to think about a wholesale review of your guidelines and whether or not you have a set that matches up with how the department operates today or whether you are living with something created 10 to 15 years ago that doesn’t work well in today’s environment.  This edition of “Ten Things” will set out some of the basic things you need to consider when preparing or updating your Outside Counsel Guidelines:

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Ten Things: An Index to All the Posts – November 2014 to November 2016

I published the first “Ten Things You Need to Know as In-House Counsel” blog about two years ago this month.  It all began after my talking with a group of young in-house lawyers who asked me “What do I need to know to be General Counsel some day?”  Hmmm, I thought.  I should start writing this stuff down.  So I have and it’s been a surprising success.  Very surprising.  The blog has over 1,400 followers and keeps growing by leaps and bounds.  It was nominated for “Best Blog of 2016” by the Expert Institute and the American Bar Association will be publishing a “Best of” collection of posts in book form in early 2017.   I have been asked to speak to a number of different groups of in-house lawyers and legal departments based on “something they read in the blog.” And – what I consider the neatest part –  I have heard directly from readers all over the world via email, LinkedIn, and even on the phone.  I enjoy hearing from all of you (good or bad), especially if you find the blog helpful or, even better, if you have ideas for future posts.  Always feel free to contact me with your feedback, questions, or ideas.

I still haven’t figured out how to create a good index to all the posts on the blog site (the book will have updated posts set out by category).  So, please bear with me for at least one more “Index” post.  I will eventually figure it out (or upgrade my site).  Until then, and since there are at least 500 new followers since I last did this, it’s a good point in time for an updated index of “Ten Things” posts (all 50 of them), hyper-linked and in chronological order from past to most current:

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